How worried should we be about the threats posed to our homes and incomes by the new kind of computer virus known as “ransomware”? The recent, very high-profile series of attacks in which over 150 different countries were targeted by the form of the ransomware virus known as “WannaCry” have made this question seem very urgent indeed. Essentially, these attacks have made us far more conscious of how much we are at risk from the nefarious activities of cyber criminals. According to some, the WannaCry attacks may even mark the start of a whole new era, one in which hackers have become dangerously adept in the art of finding vulnerabilities in our online security systems. New levels of interconnection mean that we need to be more aware of our cyber security needs and ready to apply all necessary measures quickly and effectively.
Cyber Security and Its Future
When certain Microsoft Windows operating systems were hit by the recent wave of WannaCry attacks, users found that ransomware had been downloaded onto their computers and that this malicious software was preventing them from accessing their computer systems. The cyber criminals responsible for these attacks instructed their victims that they would have to pay via the cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin if they wanted to regain access to their computer systems. Microsoft spokespersons were keen to say that the U.S. government was to blame for these failures of cyber security, but others point out that, with its commercially driven software updates, Microsoft itself helped to create the vulnerabilities that the cyber criminals exploited.
The ransomware attacks raise profound questions. Will cyber insurance become a big business? If so, how is it even possible to assess the financial value of data? Will governments now have to provide funding to defend their citizens against cyber criminality?