Data breaches have become so commonplace that we almost expect them.
Credit cards are compromised when retail stores are hacked. Social Security numbers are at risk when government agencies or physician’s offices fall prey to phishing expeditions.
And those are just the perils the average American faces with domestic hackers. It’s just as easy for people from far-flung countries – some of whom may be working on the behest of their governments – to infiltrate our computer systems and disrupt our way of life.
“The Internet is taking down the borders around countries all over the world,” says Michael Daugherty, a cybersecurity expert and author of the book “The Devil Inside the Beltway: The Shocking Expose of the U.S. Government’s Surveillance and Overreach into Cybersecurity, Medicine and Small Business” (www.michaeljdaugherty.com).
This year, the federal Office of Personnel Management was hacked, putting the data of more than 22 million Americans at risk. That hack reportedly originated in China. In another case, four people were arrested this summer in Israel and Florida in connection with fraud schemes related to a 2014 hack of JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal just recently reported that 29 countries have formal military or intelligence units dedicated to offensive hacking efforts.
“It’s scary what the possibilities are, because this isn’t quite the same as securing our borders against a military attack,” Daugherty says. “Not every country has a powerful military, but it’s so much easier to wage a cyber war.”
He suggests several reasons why this can be a concern for everyone.
• All individuals are at risk. Maybe no one in North Korea or Pakistan is targeting you personally, but that doesn’t keep you from being affected. “The downside of technology is that it pools everything together, and if someone breaks into it, there’s just a whole lot there to take,” Daugherty says. “Your information is there. My information is there. Everyone else’s information is there. That’s the problem from an individual American’s standpoint.”
• Advances happen too quickly. The development of technology has moved so fast that government and laws have struggled to keep up. “We are still in a very early stage of an explosive new era of technology, almost like medicine was 150 years ago,” Daugherty says. “So we’re going to have governments behind. Everyone is behind. While on my recent speaking and book tour in Australia, I was saying there that it’s all the more reason why we have to help each other, co-educate and collaborate.”
• Cyber attacks don’t need to be sophisticated. A hacker can use the email address of an employee of a federal agency to send emails with a malicious link to other employees. Those employees, thinking the email comes from someone they know and trust, open the email and the link, allowing the breach to occur. “This all boils down to knowledge and training,” Daugherty says. “You are only as strong as your weakest employee.”
About Michael J. Daugherty
Michael J Daugherty is Founder, President & CEO of LabMD, a cancer detection laboratory based in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as the author of the book “The Devil Inside the Beltway, The Shocking Expose of the US Government’s Surveillance and Overreach into Cybersecurity, Medicine and Small Business.” The book details Daugherty’s battle with the Federal Trade Commission over its investigation into LabMD’s data security practices. It is an insider’s look at how agencies exploit the Administrative Procedure Act to grab for power by exploiting the small and weak to control the big and powerful.
Because of his work, Daugherty has testified before the House of Representatives House Oversight Committee and regularly keynotes in front of healthcare, law, business and technology audience educating them on what to expect when the Federal Government investigates you. He spoke at the Gartner Security Summit in Washington, D.C., in June and in August also spoke at a Black Hat USA security gathering in Las Vegas. He holds a BA in Economics from University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, regularly blogs at www.michaeljdaugherty.com and sits on the board of Snoopwall, a privacy company based in Nashua, N.H. He is also a pilot and resides in Atlanta, Ga. He can be followed on Twitter at @DaughertyMJ.