Cybersecurity needs women

Computer hacking is becoming more widespread and damaging. Headlines highlight attacks on government agencies, political campaign offices, financial institutions and big corporations. But citizens and consumers are paying a heavy price. In 2016, 2 billion people had their personal details stolen, including the medical records of more than 100 million Americans. Hacks of US retail outlets such as Target and global credit companies such as Equifax compromised the private data of hundreds of millions of customers. In the past 6 years, more than US$107 billion was stolen from US consumers through identity theft.

Cybercrime exacerbates inequalities. A million more US women than men had their identities stolen in 2014. People of African American and Latino descent are, on average, two to three times more likely than white people to be victims of fraud related to debt or income. And women and girls are more likely than men to be targets of ‘remote sexual abuse’ — coerced into posing nude online or being stalked through the Internet.

Security technologies also disadvantage women and other groups. For example, biometric facial recognition systems have trouble identifying the faces of women and people of colour. Airport security systems and operators disproportionately flag black women for strip searches relative to other passengers.

Source: Nature

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