With all the talk of data and privacy, of Chinese and Russian hackers and election meddling and intellectual theft, cybersecurity should be—indeed, must be—an absolute priority for Trump Administration. Whether it’s the Internet of Things, the real threat of Chinese influence on the 5G networks, or the more simple yet painful cyber attacks on Americans, it’s time for the government to get serious about cyberwarfare and cybercrime.
Take, for example, the fact that many of us have probably received one of these calls: caller ID shows the number is strangely similar to yours, the call comes around dinner time, and if you happen to answer you’re immediately greeted by an angry, accusatory voice explaining the IRS is coming to kick in your door and arrest you. The only thing that will stop them? iTunes or Google gift cards of course, the normal legal tender accepted by all federal agencies.
It might sound ridiculous, one degree less silly than the email from the Nigerian prince who wants to send you his personal gold for safekeeping if only you will send him your bank account information, but it works. I’ve had friends and relatives taken in by similar scams; otherwise smart people can be caught off-guard by a convincing thief.
Last year saw an estimated 19.2 billion scam robocalls. In 2016, one report estimated Americans lost $9.5 billion to scammers, a 56 percent increase over 2015. Make no mistake: this is big business, and it’s not just happening on telephones.