How many times have you heard a statistic about rampant cyberattacks and thought… nothing? On September 10, 2020, a cyberattack took place impacting Duesseldorf University Clinic’s systems. As a result, a patient needing urgent care was redirected to a hospital in another city. Prolonging necessary treatment during a critical time can have disastrous consequences, as was the case here. The woman regrettably, and quite possibly needlessly, passed away.
Blurring the Line Between the Digital and Physical World
While this was a case of life and death, not every breach is. But what is unchanged is that successful attacks affect real lives, from individuals battling to undo damage from stolen information, to businesses and government entities unable to provide relied upon services or being forced to make life-altering decisions that impact staffing, operations, and more.
The line between online threats and real-world harm is getting closer, and this attack is only the latest to prove it (let’s not forget decade-old Stuxnet). While this particular incident was launched towards the hospital’s network and IT systems, that wasn’t the only victim. The patients needing medical treatment suffered. Although the risks in some industries, such as healthcare, are more apparent than others, the perils of having inadequate security should not be understated.
We all hope to never feel the impact of a cyberattack or experience firsthand what it does to an organization. At the same time, we see the headlines about the latest breach and don’t blink an eye. It’s as if we’ve become desensitized to this very real threat.
A ransomware attack locks down a school district. A breach exposes credit card numbers. A Zoom meeting is disrupted by racist slurs. As a society, we should look beyond the headlines with empathy for the human victims.
When we do, we may finally have the level of awareness and visibility required to drive proactive security into the institutions that most impact our lives.
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