Cyber attacks spanned the globe Friday, hitting as many as 74 countries with at least 45,000 attacks at the time of publication. The attacks used a leaked National Security Agency tool that exploited a vulnerability in Windows machines, according to the New York Times. While Microsoft rolled out a patch for the issue in March, many organizations hadn't yet updated their systems.
This incident is the latest in a long string of cybersecurity failures. From the data breach of the Democratic National Committee revealed last June to the "Internet of things" hack that disrupted service to sites like Twitter and Netflix in October, we've come to see cyber attacks as routine events. And, as more information moves online, they are ramping up: Ransomware attacks of the type seen Friday ticked up throughout 2016, to more than 120 million in December:
At the same time, companies are not confident in their ability to defend against these sorts of threats. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that about half of businesses think their own systems are only somewhat prepared to handle a cyber attack, while another 35 percent said they had made few or no preparations:
That lack of confidence is reflected in consumers, who say they have little faith in companies to protect their data:
Even with state-of-the-art security in place, the humans behind the machines are a weak point. Clicking a link in a phishing email, the type of scam that bounced around the Internet in the form of a Google Docs link earlier this month, can give a hacker direct access to sensitive information. Part of cybersecurity is user knowledge, and the data doesn't look promising on that front: