Wendi Whitmore: October 10, 2019

** OCTOBER IS NATIONAL CYBERSECURITY AWARENESS MONTH **

HOW CYBERCRIMINALS ARE TARGETING CITIES, WHAT IT MEANS FOR TAXPAYERS, AND HOW CONSUMERS CAN PROTECT THEMSELVES

Cyber Expert Discusses Cybersecurity Trends and Insights for Viewers to Stay Safe from Hackers

Wendi Whitmore

Cybersecurity Expert, Vice President, X-Force Threat Intelligence, IBM Security

 

While hackers work all year round to find new ways to target consumers and businesses with cyberattacks, October marks the start of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, an opportunity to discuss the major trends in cybersecurity and provide the public with tips to keep important data safe and secure online. It is also an opportunity to highlight a new and growing cybersecurity threat sweeping the country.

With a recent spike in city ransomware attack cases, cities have quickly become an easy target for hackers. This summer, these attacks reached new heights as cities in Massachusetts, New York, Florida, and Texas fell victim to cyber criminals, resulting in more than 70 incidents being reported in 2019 so far.

So why are hackers targeting cities with ransomware? Ransomware is a type of malware attack in which a cybercriminal uses malicious software to infect a network, hold sensitive data and critical files hostage, and demand payment in order to release the information. In the case of cities, these types of attacks can be extremely lucrative for the bad guys, while wreaking havoc on a city’s network and putting citizens’ data at risk.

In fact, IBM conducted a survey of taxpayers that explores taxpayers’ point-of-view on ransomware in the wake of growing attacks against cities. The survey, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of IBM, highlights that:

  • Ransomware Hits Home: Taxpayers see ransomware as a threat to their personal data and their city’s data. 75% of respondents expressed concern around ransomware threats to their personal data, while nearly 80% fear ransomware’s impact on cities across the U.S.
  • Taxpayers Say Don’t Pay Ransom: Nearly 60% of U.S. citizens surveyed are against their local governments using tax dollars to pay ransoms
  • Wait and See Attitude: Taxpayers would rather see ransomware play out than pay up. More than 60% of respondents would prefer their city to deal with the larger recovery costs rather than use tax dollars to pay ransom in a ransomware attack
  • Who is Responsible?: Just under half of responding citizens believe protecting cities from ransomware is the federal government’s job, above state and local decision makers – and nearly 90% of U.S. citizens are in favor of increasing federal funding to improve cybersecurity in cities

IBM is also making free ransomware preparedness trainings available to cities in the company’s IBM X-Force Command Cyber Range in Cambridge, MA to simulate ransomware and help attendees experience an attack in a safe environment.

In honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, IBM’s Wendi Whitmore is available for interviews. At IBM, Wendi was instrumental in creating the IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services team (X-Force IRIS), an elite team of security experts that helps clients prepare for and respond to cybersecurity incidents. IBM Security’s Wendi Whitmore, Vice President of X-Force Threat Intelligence, can discuss the latest cybersecurity trends, and provide actionable insights into how businesses and consumers can safeguard their information.

MORE ABOUT WENDI WHITMORE

Wendi Whitmore, Vice President, X-Force Threat Intelligence, IBM Security

 

Wendi Whitmore is one of the top global experts on cybersecurity incident response, helping some of the largest companies in the world effectively respond to and recover from major cybersecurity attacks. She has nearly two decades of experience in incident response, data breach investigations, strategic information security services, and threat intelligence analytics. At IBM, Wendi was instrumental in creating the IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services team (X-Force IRIS), an elite team of security experts that helps clients prepare for and respond to cybersecurity incidents. In her role, she leverages people, infrastructure, data and technology to help clients detect and defend against advanced, targeted cyber attacks.

Wendi began her career as a Special Agent conducting computer crime investigations with the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) and has also held executive level positions at CrowdStrike Services and Mandiant, where she was responsible for growing and implementing all professional services offerings and engagements.

Produced for: IBM

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