By: Justin Spittler
If you use the Internet, your bank account is at risk...
On Monday, “terrorists” attacked a major U.S. hospital.
They didn’t set off a bomb or fire a single bullet. They infected the hospital with a computer virus.
The Chicago Tribune reported on Tuesday.
Modern medicine in the Washington area reverted to 1960s-era paper systems when one of the largest hospital chains was crippled by a virus that shuttered its computers for patients and medical staff.
[T]he paralyzing attack on MedStar Health Inc., which forced records systems offline, prevented patients from booking appointments, and left staff unable to check email messages or even look up phone numbers.
MedStar operates 10 hospitals around Maryland and Washington D.C. It serves more than 4 million patients a year. Its computer systems are still down.
• It appears the hackers were after money...
The Chicago Tribune explains.
Dr. Richard Alcorta, the medical director for Maryland's emergency medical services network, said he suspects it was a ransomware attack based on multiple ransomware attempts on individual hospitals in the state. Alcorta said he was unaware of any ransoms paid by Maryland hospitals or health care systems.
"People view this, I think, as a form of terrorism and are attempting to extort money by attempting to infect them with this type of virus," he said.
“Ransomware” is a harmful computer program that can take over your computer and lock your files. Once your computer is infected with ransomware, the only way to unlock it is with a special password called a “decryption key.” To get this password, users have to pay the hackers a ransom.
According to The Baltimore Sun, the hackers are demanding at least $18,500. The FBI is investigating the attack.
• Chris Wood, editor of Extraordinary Technology, isn’t surprised the hackers targeted a hospital...
Chris is Casey Research’s technology expert. He’s been studying cybersecurity threats for years. And he says hospitals are prime targets for ransomware attacks.
Hospitals tend to be way behind the times when it comes to cybersecurity in general.
What’s more, hackers know hospitals will pay up. They simply can’t afford to have their systems down for long periods of time. Lives are at stake, after all.
Just last month, hackers hit a small hospital in Los Angeles. They locked the hospital’s computer system. It took ten days for the hospital’s operations to fully recover.
The hospital paid the hackers a $17,000 ransom to regain access to the system.
Chris says ransomware attacks are a growing problem.
We’ve been seeing more stories of hackers going after files on people’s personal computers, too. They lock you out of your computer. And the only way to regain access is to pay the hackers.
Typically, hackers demand anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a thousand dollars in these kinds of attacks. The amount depends on how much they think you can realistically pay in a short time. They also demand to be paid in bitcoins, an online currency that the authorities can’t track.
If you don’t pay them, they destroy the decryption key and you can never access your files ever again.
If you use the Internet, you are at risk of a ransomware attack.
And ransomware is just one form of cyberattack…
Ransomware attacks are just one kind of cyberattack to be worried about. Hackers also steal credit cards, social security numbers, and other sensitive information.
Cybercrime is “big business.” It’s already bigger than the illicit drug trade according to many sources, including Forbes.
The government is now waging a war on cybercrime. But like most wars, this will likely be a costly, never-ending affair. Hackers have proven they can outsmart even the most “intelligent” government agencies.
• We’ve been urging readers to protect themselves against cyberattacks for months...
In December, we explained why a cyberattack is the biggest threat to your wealth.
To understand why this is such a serious threat, think about the “money” in your bank account. What is it, really?
These days, it’s certainly not a claim to gold or any other hard asset. It’s not even real cash. Most local bank branches keep less than $100,000 onsite. That’s not nearly enough to cover everyone’s deposits.
The money in your bank account is just digital bytes in a computer. If hackers infiltrate your bank’s computers, they could wipe out your bank account in an instant.
• In 2013, a gang of mostly Russian hackers stole up to $1 billion from bank accounts...
The hackers secretly infiltrated computers at over 100 banks. Once they had control of the computers, they ordered bank ATMs to spit out cash at a set time…where an associate would pick up the cash. One bank lost $7.3 million this way.
By stealing relatively small amounts per transaction, the hackers kept the scheme going for nearly two years. The names of the hacked banks are still secret.
There have been countless cyberattacks like this in recent years. Just last year, we learned of a major cyberattack against JPMorgan Chase, E*Trade, and Scottrade.
These are some of the world’s most sophisticated financial institutions. Americans trust them with hundreds of billions of dollars. Yet hackers were able to steal the personal data of more than 100 million customers from them.
• Not even the government can defend itself against hackers...
The Department of Defense, CIA, and IRS have all been hacked. And last month, hackers stole $81 million from the most powerful central bank in the world: the U.S. Federal Reserve. It was the largest bank robbery in history.
• If hackers can steal money held at the Fed, they can steal your money, too...
Imagine logging into your bank account and seeing a balance of zero.
It sounds like a nightmare. But thanks to today’s digitized financial system, it’s a real threat. Remember, your bank account doesn’t represent something tangible like gold. It doesn’t even represent cash in a vault. It’s just bytes in a computer. And in a cyberattack, it could vanish in an instant.
Most folks haven’t woken up to this danger yet. They still trust the system. They think, “Surely, my bank will keep my money safe.”
We believe trusting your bank to protect your entire life savings from hackers is a big mistake. As we’ve shown, hackers often outsmart banks and government authorities.
• We encourage you to move money outside the digital financial system...
Start by setting aside enough cash for you and your family to live on for six months. You could store the money in a safe, storage unit, or even under your mattress.
We also recommend owning physical gold. Gold is money. It’s a tangible asset that hackers can’t steal with a click of a button. Plus, gold’s value could skyrocket if these massive cyberattacks continue.
For other simple but effective ways to protect your money against hackers, we encourage you to read our special report. We put hundreds of hours of research into this guide. It includes insights from leading cybersecurity experts, plus seven essential ways to protect your money and your stock holdings from a financial attack. Click here to claim your copy.
Chart of the Day
Gold is headed for its best quarter in three decades...
Today’s chart shows gold’s performance for every quarter since 1986. You can see the price of gold has surged 16.4% this quarter. Gold hasn’t climbed that much in a quarter since 1986.
Dispatch readers know gold is money. It’s preserved wealth for centuries, and through every sort of financial crisis. Investors often buy it when they’re nervous about the economy or stocks.
Gold has crushed stocks this year. The S&P 500 is up just 1%. The STOXX Europe 600, which tracks 600 large European stocks, has fallen 8%. And the Japanese Nikkei 225 has fallen 9%.
Gold stocks, which offer leverage to the price of gold, have done even better than physical gold. The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), which tracks large gold miners, has surged 48% this year. A few of our favorite gold stocks have soared more than 66%.
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How are you doing in the gold market this year? Have you made money on the big rally in gold stocks? Please let us know by writing us at email@example.com.
- Justin Spittler