The other night I got a telephone call from someone who identified himself as an employee of Windows. He informed me that there was a major hacking threat to my computer and said Windows would take care of it.
“Give me your email address and some other information, and I’ll stop it right now,” he said.
“Thanks,” I replied, “Just give me your name and company phone number, and I’ll call you right back.”
“I can handle it right now, just give me the information,” he said. “OK,” just give me your number and after I call back you, you can handle the problem,” I said. “F — off was his expletive response as he hung up. Obviously, he was trying to hack into my computer.
I understand this scam has cost some local folks thousands of dollars and a nightmare of a problem because they fell for the pitch. Don’t be fooled. Insist on getting his company phone number and say you will call him back. Better yet just tell him to buzz off. Costs to people like you and me, caused by hackers, can cost a lot of money, but not near as much as what hackers are costing businesses every day.
According to Richard Power, the editorial director of the Computer Security Institute, the costs of cyber attacks on businesses is hard to estimate, but generally losses run between the tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars, mostly attributed to clean-up and investigations. One fortune 500 corporation was hit by the “Melissa” virus when it came out and their own internal tabulation set their loss at $10 million. The costs of the “love letter” virus, which could have affected everyone, ranges between $4 billion to $10 billion. It was caused by one individual.
If you’re conducting an e-business and you’re counting on $600,000 an hour, for instance, you could lose that much for every hour you are down. It could be a staggering amount. Just imagine the costs to Amazon, for example. If you’re Cisco you could lose $7 million in online revenue for every day you’re down. That’s where you start!
Most every corporation values its inside information. If a trade secret is compromised online or through some ki9nd of hacking, inside or outside, the loss in dollars is impossible to estimate. On-line crime costs are hard to measure, but world wide it is estimated that hackers have probably cost victims an estimated amount in excess of $400 billion. The Wall Street Journal estimates the costs of cyber espionage and cyber crime to the U.S. alone may reach $100 million this year. The costs are staggering.
Bloomberg reports the China hackers who stole personal date on 4 million government employees from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management sneaked past a sophisticated counter-hacking system called Einstein 3, the highly touted, multi-million dollar, most secretive technology that’s been years in the making. It cost about $1 billion between the years 2012-2014, three years in development.
Last year venture capitalists spent billions in cyber security. The government is trying to figure out how to tap into the technologies coming out of that. Despite its seemingly advantage, the government is now playing catch up to the private sector.
Just how do we go about stopping the international cyber espionage on the U.S. government. not to mention state and local governments which are also potential victims of hackers and cyber crime? That’s the question. Attacks upon government agencies could easily reveal personal information of individuals, such as Social Security numbers and drivers license numbers. This information, falling into the wrong hands could cost many individual thousands of dollars. The total amount could be unfathomable.
Your personal information could wind up in the hands of Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping. With all the cyber espionage reportedly going on by China and Russia, and by individuals in those countries, anything could happen. This may be the most perplexing, costly, and possibly most dangerous problem we face. It is not unthinkable that foreign countries could get their hands on the identity of our espionage agents, putting them at great risk.
Life used to be so simple. I could get by giving simple warnings, such as Don‘t pick up hitchhikers. Don’t drink liquor in excess, or smoke, chew or dip tobacco, and don’t go out with those who do. Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream if you want to keep your britches dry. And never, I mean never, believe a word Donald Trump has to say.
Some things never change. Life was so easy back then
Glen McAdoo, a Fallon resident, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org