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  • Pauline Hoffmann

Cybersecurity and Ransomware


How can you protect yourself?


Last week and this week we have a two-part series on cybersecurity and ransomware attacks. We are joined by Dr. Hossein Sarrafzadeh. Hossein is a University Distinguished Professor and Director, Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity Research, Education, and Outreach (CREO) at North Caroline Agricultural and Technical State University. He is also a former colleague of mine at St. Bonaventure University.


[A caveat about the podcast as it differs in format a bit from others we've done. As Bryce and I were talking with Hossein, we honestly lost track of time! We try to keep the podcasts to about 30 minutes or so. Also, if there is a great deal of dense information, we try to split the podcasts up as we record them. We decided to split this podcast into two episodes after we recorded them and went our separate ways. At the end of the first episode, you hear Bryce conclude and you don't hear an ARS (Arbitrary Random Stat). At the beginning of the second episode, you hear Bryce introduce us and it does end with an ARS. It's still Data Doyenne and it's still the same great content.]


While some of what Hossein said (actually a great deal of what he said) left us scared of getting hacked and fearful for our privacy he did provide some tips to stay as safe as possible and did offer some reassurances.


I did want to share some statistics that we touched upon during the podcast as well as some links for additional information. As with most things on Data Doyenne, you can get lost in the data available at the links noted.


Touro College Illinois noted the top 10 biggest ransomware attacks of 2021 thus far (and the list will change I am sure!). To view the list in more detail visit its site here. I have to admit that I hadn't heard of many of these.

  • Colonial pipeline

  • Brenntag – chemical distribution company

  • Acer – computer manufacturer

  • JBS – the world’s largest meatpacker

  • Quanta – major partner of Apple

  • NBA

  • AXA – European Insurance Company

  • CAN – insurance company

  • CD Projekt – videogame development company in Poland

  • Kia


If you want to get lost in ransomware and cybersecurity data and statistics, I recommend PurpleSec. A word of warning....I got lost on this site. You may as well. What you will find:

  • Industries targeted by ransomware attacks.

  • Where the attacks are coming from.

  • How ransoms are paid and how often.

  • Demographics of attacked companies.

  • What attackers want from specific industries.

  • Threats to mobile.

  • Countries affected by ransomware attacks.

  • Recent attacks.

All this talk about ransoms and ransomware made me think that ransomware is about "kidnapping" data. I then wondered where in the world "traditional" kidnappings take place. That is this week's ARS (Arbitrary Ransom Stat). According to the United Nations Crime Trends Survey, the top five countries in which kidnappings occur are as follows (with the number of kidnappings noted):

  • Pakistan – 20,060

  • UK (specifically England) 5,223

  • Germany – 4,563

  • Mexico – 1,833

  • Morocco – 826

Another word of warning....you can get lost in worldwide crime data also! Be warned and be careful.

If you follow Data Doyenne on social media (and you should), you will see that I also posted a graphic provided by Hossein regarding passwords. I include it here also because it is important in keeping us all safe and protected.




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