Washington ranked No. 9 in terms of states that face the most cyberattacks in the country, according to a recent study by San Francisco-based software company RudderStack.
Per the study, in 2021 Washington saw 13,903 victims of cybercrime, with a loss of more than $157.5 million – or $11,325 per victim.
“While it's true that Washington is one of the most cyber-attacked states in the U.S. it can still be a relatively safe place to live if individuals take steps to protect themselves from cyberattacks,” Eric Dodds, head of product marketing at RudderStack, said in an email.
The RudderStack report notes that the health care industry has historically been the target of major cyberattacks, given it handles huge amounts of sensitive data. According to the report, 8% of all hacking breaches are made into electronic medical record systems.
“The HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is one of the key pieces of legislation that protects people from cyberattacks,” Dodds added. “HIPAA requires organizations handling health data – such as hospitals, insurers or other medical institutions – to encrypt sensitive information and implement security protocols. Health data is arguably the most sensitive data related to a person, so this legislation is crucial to ensure US citizens are protected should a cyberattack occur.”
Passed by Congress in 1996, HIPPAA is a federal law that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.
“To protect themselves, individuals should ensure that they use up-to-date software on all their devices and strong passwords with at least eight characters, including a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols,” Dodds advised. “It is also important that people regularly back up important files, so they can be restored in case of an attack.”
RudderStack’s results are in line with a report released earlier this month by the state Attorney General’s Office that found cybercrime in Washington is at its second highest recorded level since tracking began in 2016. This year, there were 4.5 million data breach notices were sent to Washingtonians, second only to last year’s record 6.3 million notices.
According to the most recent FBI internet crime report, $6.9 billion was lost last year in the U.S. due to cybercrime, a figure that has quadrupled since 2017.
RudderStack found that California suffered the highest loss, with 67,000 victims of cybercrime. The average financial loss per victim was $18,000, totaling $1.2 billion.
New York saw the highest losses per victim, however, with 29,000 victims losing a total of $559 million. That's an average loss of $19,000 per victim.
RudderStack’s overall ranking of the 10 states most targeted for cyberattacks are as follows:
4. New York
10. New Jersey