Homeland Security Warns of Cyberattacks Intended to Kill People

Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary, warns that cyberattacks could cause the death of thousands. This is a dangerous and imminent shift away from ransomware to malware.
Mayorkas spoke out to USA Today about the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline in April that shut down gas supplies along the East Coast. This was distracting from another far more serious hack.

He said that the attack on the Florida water treatment plant was an attempt to hack it.

A remote hacker attempted to increase sodium hydroxide 100 times, threatening to poison Oldsmar's water supply. Higher undiluted concentrations of the chemical, also known as lye are deadly.

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Mayorkas stated that the attempted hacking of this water treatment plant in February 2021 showed the serious risks that malicious cyber activity poses for public safety and health. Cybersecurity must be a top priority for everyone as attacks are becoming more frequent and more severe.

Hackers have many more vulnerabilities to exploit because of the proliferation of internet-connected devices across America.

Cyber attackers could become a real threat eventually. Gartner, a security firm, warned in July that cyber attackers would have developed operational technology environments to harm or kill people by 2025.

Hackers targeting hospitals is even more concerning than the Oldsmar attack. Patients could suffer long-term, grave consequences for their health and even death from such an attack.

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USA Today reports that ransomware hacks are not reported by private healthcare providers.

A woman sued a hospital for failing to report a ransomware attack which allegedly led to her child's death. Hackers seized control of the Springhill Medical Center, Alabama in 2019. According to The Wall Street Journal, the hospital never admitted to the attack.

Gartners report says it will soon be financially sensible to take these threats seriously and take preventive action.

The report states that even if you don't consider the true value of a human being's life, organizations will face significant costs in terms of litigation, insurance, reputation loss, compensation and litigation.

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This is a worrying development and should be a warning sign. There are many parts of the country's vital infrastructure that are now more vulnerable than ever, and lives are at risk.

READ MORE: Ransomware is not the next major cyberthreat. It's called killware. It is as horrible as it sounds. [USA Today]



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