Jul 8, 2017

The human cost of cyber attacks

Sam Jayne / Axios

As governments, corporations, and hospitals around the world struggle to get back up and running after a string of recent ransomware attacks, scientists in Israel have uncovered another effect of cyber attacks: mass psychological distress.

  • The Financial Times reported the study's findings, which showed that participants' levels of cortisol — the stress hormone — increased after experiencing simulated cyber attacks.
  • Why it matters: The goal of hacks is generally to target institutions, not individuals, but this study indicates that cyber attacks can be as potent as terrorism in causing widespread fear.
  • The researchers wrote: "To accomplish this end, one need not commit horrific acts of murder. In a modern society it is enough attack the foundations of everyday life."
  • It's personal: Political scientists at the University of Haifa in Israel tested cortisol levels in participants' saliva after subjecting them to cyber attacks via computers and personal cell phones. "The text message to the participants' cell phones cemented the feeling among participants that they were the target of the cyberattack, not the lab computer," the study said.
  • The lasting damage: Researchers also found that subjects who had undergone the experiment were more fearful about the prospect of a cyber attack against Israel than those who had participated in the control group. Being exposed to cyber attacks once seemed to significantly increase panic about a repeat attack.
  • Focus on individuals: The study urged cyber security researchers to focus on the personal impact of attacks in addition to the national impact. The psychological stress of cyber attacks could affect individuals' decision-making, leading to "militant and aggressive attitudes" in the population, researchers said.

Go deeper

Buttigieg campaign claims Nevada caucuses were "plagued with errors"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg's campaign wrote a letter on Sunday asking the Nevada State Democratic Party to release early vote and in-person vote totals by precinct and address certain caucus errors identified by campaigns, The Nevada Independent reports.

The big picture: The campaign alleges that the process of integrating early votes on caucus day was “plagued with errors and inconsistencies,” and says it received more than 200 incident reports from precincts around the state.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 7 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus threat grows, threatening some drug supplies

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.

As the novel coronavirus continues spreading globally and China grapples with a limited production capability, there's a growing risk to about 150 prescription drugs in the U.S., sources tell Axios.

The big picture: The coronavirus has spread to more countries, with both South Korea and Italy stepping up emergency measures amid rising case numbers on Sunday. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,467 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 57 mins ago - Health

Warren sees bump in national poll following Nevada debate

Photo: David Becker/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren surged to 19% and second place in a CBS News/YouGov national poll released Sunday, trailing front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders (28%) but edging out Joe Biden (17%) and Michael Bloomberg (13%).

Why it matters: The poll notes that only 42% of Democratic primary voters have made up their minds. While Warren underperformed in the first three states, her strong debate performance in Nevada last week may have given her campaign new life.