You hear about cybersecurity attacks every day. IT security companies continue to come up with ways to prevent these attacks, but the cyber criminals keep cooking up new ways to steal information. Below are the biggest cyber crisis events that happened in 2017, and a few key lessons learned:

Ransomware attacks on the NHS. The National Health Service along with other hospitals and small businesses were attacked early in 2017 by a group of hackers using the malware WannaCry. This malware temporarily shut down network systems and computers. The hackers demanded ransom, payable to an untraceable Bitcoin wallet. These attacks spread across countries in Europe and Asia, temporarily disabling hospitals, public utility companies and more.

This attack was short lived, and the criminals escaped with less than $200,000 from their victims.

Lesson learned: Malware attacks similar to this one are a significant threat, and new ransomware programs stronger than WannaCry are rumored to be in development.

“Vault 7” published on WikiLeaks. Wikileaks, the online platform for publishing news leaks and classified information, published a series of articles titled “Vault 7”. These articles contained information about the CIA’s ability to compromise and track consumer devices as a form of intelligence gathering. Third party sources confirmed the information to be accurate, which caused major concern from the public about government surveillance.

Lesson learned: The Vault 7 articles demonstrated the CIA’s ability to track phones, tablets, smart computers, and other devices — meaning cyber criminals could potentially do the same thing. The time is now to strengthen defenses against personal tracking and security breaches.

American Voter Records exposed. This year, close to 200 million Americans’ voter records were exposed on an unsecured storage server. The records supposedly contained personal information and voting histories for every registered voter for almost ten years. It doesn’t appear as if anyone viewed or exploited the information, but there is no way to know with certainty.

Lesson learned: The information was stored by a private company that collects voter data and sells it to political parties. The material did come from voting records that are publicly available. Still, as more political campaigns become interested in big data to help them influence voters and win elections, your voting record could become public.

If your company is concerned about being a victim of a cyberattack, contact the associates at Tucker/Hall for cybersecurity communications planning.