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Cyberattacks present a threat on all levels

Once the domain of over-the-top spy thrillers and science fiction, cybercrime has become a daily occurrence costing the world economy billions of dollars a year.

According to Steve Morgan of Cybercrime Magazine, a cybersecurity trade publication, the cost of cybercrime to the world economy is projected to grow to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025 compared to $3 trillion impact in 2015.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization, maintains a list of major cyber attacks from around the world which, just for the past 12 months, is currently at 38 pages long, and growing. These are just the major attacks people know about. They are the ones targeting governments and multi-national companies.

Not included on the list are the many thousands of data breaches and ransomware attacks that have occurred to businesses both large and small. Businesses have had to invest in additional insurance coverage with the hope of being able to stay afloat after a major attack.

It is one thing when it is “just money” being coerced, extorted or stolen — it is hard for the working class American to feel sympathy for multi-billionaires and companies with annual incomes larger than the gross domestic products of some countries.

The true nightmare scenarios arrive when attacks target things like power generation and distribution grids, public utilities and healthcare providers.

Cyber security experts issue dire warnings of the very real risk facing essential infrastructure. Even taken with the grain of salt that many of these experts are in the business of selling, installing and maintaining expensive cybersecurity solutions, the risk and potential economy-crippling costs of doing nothing are far too great to ignore.

In a world where a hacker can just as easily be next door or half a world away and steal your business or personal data and cripple you financially, the threat must become a priority on the level of the national security risk it represents.

Rather than chasing their tails on political games, second-guessing scientists or attempting to rewrite history, elected officials must instead focus on the unseen threat of cyberattacks and make addressing and preventing those attacks a top priority.

Individual Americans can do their part by calling on all governing bodies, from local to the state and national levels to invest in cybersecurity measures and practices to keep personal information protected and vital services running despite outside attacks.

On an individual basis people must make cybersecurity a part of their everyday lives, as practiced a routine as brushing their hair or tying their shoes. These include things like having robust passwords and multi-part authentication, to learning about and identifying phishing schemes and never clicking on a link in an unknown email.

Cyberattacks represent a very real threat, not only on the national and international level but also in your own pocketbook as the costs to businesses are passed on to consumers. Addressing and preventing cyberattacks must be made a true priority.