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■ Cover Story: CYBERSECURITY


Fighting back


Virginia wants to train a workforce to tackle cyber threats by Richard Foster


I


f you were keeping up with the news in recent months, you probably heard that hackers working for Russian intelligence were suspected of infiltrating state election databases in Ari- zona and Illinois as well as breaching computer networks at the Democratic National Committee and The New York Times.


But you may have missed the story


about the small dermatology practice in Reston that also was hacked. It didn’t make national news in June


when an unknown hacker from outside the United States attacked Professional Der- matology Care PC, compromising 13,000 patient records. It was a ransomware attack, a software raid in which a hacker shuts down or limits access to a computer network or website in an attempt to extort money from the owner. Unavailabl e for comment, the dermatology practice posted a statement on its website about the breach, stating that it had increased its cybersecurity measures, would be sending written notice to all affected patients and that it had reported the attack to authori- ties, including the FBI. The practice said it believed “the


criminals’ motive was to extract money from the company in order to de-encrypt data, rather than for the misuse of patient data.” Though state-sponsored cyberat- tacks garner headlines, attacks on


Photo by Mark Rhodes www.VirginiaBusiness.com


businesses of all sizes are an everyday occurrence, driving the increased need for more cybersecurity professionals — and endangering the existence of small businesses. “Companies are under daily attack


from cybercriminals,” says Collin Hite, an attorney with Richmond-based law firm Hirschler Fleischer who specializes in cybersecurity and data privacy. “This is happening to small medical practices all the way up to the Fortune 500 com- panies. And my view is … other than the Fortune 1000 larger companies, many companies are woefully underprepared.” Virginia’s government and compa-


nies are positioning the state as a leader in the sector, preparing to take advantage of the economic opportunities created by the challenges of securing the ever- evolving host of technological systems and gadgets upon which 21st-century life depends. To meet the demand, Virginia is trying to grow its pipeline of cyberse- curity professionals, an industry that so far has been unpopular with millennials.


VIRGINIA BUSINESS 25


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