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Killware definition

Killware is a cyberattack deployed to cause serious physical harm or even death. Hackers may use various methods to carry out a killware attack, including ransomware and malware. Examples of killware may be cyberattacks against power grids, hospitals, airports, banks, or other systems directly affecting people’s livelihood.

Potential killware targets

  • Infrastructure. Cyber attackers may target weather warning systems, water plants, or electrical grids to interfere with normal operations.
  • Hospitals. Hackers may hack into hospital systems, crippling their functioning and putting patients at serious, potentially life-threatening risk.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT). Everyday appliances like smart cookers and app-controlled heating systems could also be hacked in a killware attack.

Real-life killware attacks

In 2021, hackers attempted to poison Oldsmar’s water supply in Florida by increasing sodium hydroxide levels at a local water treatment plant.

In 2021, a ransomware attack on a hospital disabled all computers in a hospital for eight days, potentially leading to one death.

Ways to protect your home from killware

  • Use strong, encrypted, randomized passwords.
  • Configure a VPN on your router to encrypt all traffic within your home network.