Dec 23, 2017

The everyday attacks in modern cyber warfare

Illustration: Axios Visuals

The Department of Homeland Security has identified 16 critical parts of our infrastructure that are at risk for a cyber attack — energy, financial services, transportation, water, and defense, to name a few.

But, but, but: Adam Meyers, vice president of Intelligence for cyber security company CrowdStrike, told Axios that the focus on critical infrastructure is misplaced; he argues there are smaller hacks occurring every day "that are laying the groundwork" for even bigger attacks in the future.

Why it matters: When it comes to cyber-security vulnerabilities, the U.S. has "unlimited risk, limited resources, and a thinking enemy," according to the Director of George Washington University's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, Frank Cilluffo.

Recent attacks on everyday items:

  • The Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, New York, was the biggest U.S. hospital hack in 2017, per CBS News. The computer system of the level one trauma center was down for six weeks. The head of the cyber security firm that got the hospital back online told CBS this hints at other major concerns: "Imagine that physicians, clinical staff, nurses came in one day and...all of the data in the EMR [electronic medical records] was actually just wrong and you didn't know which data was wrong."
  • 500,000 pacemakers were recalled in August by the FDA due to fears of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. While there were no reports of hacks, the FDA recognized the weak-spot in pacemakers that could allow hackers to "deliberately run the battery flat," or alter its pacing, the Guardian reports.
  • The Equifax security breach earlier this year compromised the personal data of over 140 million people, exposing extremely sensitive information for everyday Americans.
  • More than 30 schools in a Montana school district were targeted in a cyber hack in October, CNN reports. Hackers demanded money, or threatened to release private records on students and staff. The Department of Education warned parents and teachers that these extortion attempts have "included threats of violence, shaming, or bullying the children unless payment is received."
  • North Korea, Russia, or China aren't as likely to go for a massive critical infrastructure attack just yet, because "the U.S. has articulated there will be significant consequences," according to Will Carter, deputy director at the Technology Policy Program for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. So instead, they're aiming to gather data on Americans with the goal of manipulating people into stealing intellectual property, spying for them, and furthering their "espionage goals."

One last thing: A Pew Research survey shows that awareness of cyber vulnerabilities has grown among Americans. 70% of Americans expect a major cyberattack on infrastructure in the next five years, and 62% believe the government can handle it.

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Trump touts press briefing "ratings" as U.S. coronavirus case surge

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.

World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 50 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 704,095 — Total deaths: 33,509 — Total recoveries: 148,824.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 132,637 — Total deaths: 2,351 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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