In today’s business environment, the heavy reliance on information technology (IT) by governments, public and private sectors make critical infrastructures like hospitals, electric grids and the financial industry vulnerable to cyber-attacks. As a results, the threats presented by cyberwarfare are becoming a real challenge.
Cyberterrorism and cyber warfare refer to politically motivated hacking operations on critical computer networks and intelligence data to interrupt, wreak havoc and cause harm to critical national infrastructures such as energy, transportation, health, and even government operations (Cernat, 2020). It is a form of virtual war fought over the internet that causes the same destruction that a physical war would cause to any country (Papathanasaki et al., 2020). These acts of cyber warfare threaten the integrity of the virtual world, which is the foundation of every nation’s financial, communication, health, economic, information, and security systems. The covid 19 pandemic accelerated the rate of cyber warfare in the United States, where entire critical infrastructures such as hospital networks were shut down due to ransomware attacks (Codreanu, 2021).
The United States has been going through cyber wars with various nation-states and cybercriminal organizations. The recent ransomware attack by the Darkside ransomware group shut down Colonial Pipeline and had a multiplier effect on the United States economy, companies, and individuals (Sparkes, 2021). This attack crippled the daily lives of many Americans on the East coast as it caused an acute shortage in gas and a dramatic increase in gas prices. As a result, Americans had difficulties doing regular daily activities like taking kids to school and driving to hospitals in case of an emergency. During the Covid 19 pandemic, healthcare institutions in America have been a primary target for ransomware attacks. The rapid increase in ransomware attacks on healthcare institutions led to the loss of lives due to entire hospital networks being shut down. During these attacks, access to electronic health records (EHR) systems that contain medication history, vital treatment plans, care directives, amongst others, were interrupted and continue to be interrupted, thereby putting the lives of Americans on the line. Many hospitals affected by ransomware were quick to pay the ransom to regain access to patient records and save lives. Given the rapid response in making payments, ransomware gangs found the healthcare industry to be a fertile ground for quick returns on their investments (Thamer & Alubady, 2021). As a result, the end of ransomware attacks on critical hospital infrastructures has no end in sight.
The alarming rate of cyber-attacks that happen every day across US government agencies, public and private critical infrastructures is overwhelming evidence that the United States is not prepared for a cyberwar. The lucrative nature of ransomware attack rewards, especially in the healthcare industry, indicates that ransomware will continue to be a cyber weapon of choice in 2022. The Log4J vulnerability on Apache is the most current threat that could facilitate ransomware attacks worldwide as arbitrary codes could be executed remotely on devices and applications that use java. The Log4J vulnerability affects millions of software and applications, significantly affecting all sectors in the United States, Europe, and worldwide. More needs to be done by the US government and other governments worldwide to secure cyberspace and punish perpetrators of cybercrimes.
Cernat, R. (2020). Cyberwar and cyberterrorism: Features and answers to these threats. Romanian Military Thinking(3), 100-115.
Codreanu, C. M. (2021). No Lockdown in Cyberspace. State-Sponsored Cyberattacks during the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Europolity-Continuity and Change in European Governance, 15(1), 101-130. https://www.ceeol.com/search/article-detail?id=987910
Papathanasaki, M., Dimitriou, G., Maglaras, L., Vasileiou, I., & Janicke, H. (2020). From Cyber Terrorism to Cyber Peacekeeping: Are we there yet? 24th Pan-Hellenic Conference on Informatics,
Sparkes, M. (2021). How do we solve the problem of ransomware? [Article]. New Scientist, 250(3336), 13-13. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0262-4079(21)00899-x
Thamer, N., & Alubady, R. (2021, 28-29 April 2021). A Survey of Ransomware Attacks for Healthcare Systems: Risks, Challenges, Solutions and Opportunity of Research. 2021 1st Babylon International Conference on Information Technology and Science (BICITS),
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