As we look back on 2017 we see the many different successful and new technology advances. While we might not have flying cars or holograms, it was still a successful year. Both the iPhone 8 and X were released, Bitcoins value increased dramatically and self-driving cars are being tested. However, there are larger stories that stick out from 2017. Some of the largest cybersecurity attacks occurred in 2017 leaving many users vulnerable. Lets take a look at some of the stories we thought were spotlight worthy.
Facebook and Google get hacked
In April, Facebook and Google were both scammed. While 100M might seem like nothing to Google and Facebook, the two companies missed the funds after they were allegedly conned by an email fraudster.
The accused is said to have faked messages from an Asian-based manufacturer and convinced victims to wire payments to his account over a three-year period. The suspect was removed from his home in New York later in the year and now faces charges for wired fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.
The ransomware attack swept across the world locking out users from tens of thousands of Windows PCs. WannaCry was demanding a ransom of $300 to $600 to be paid in Bitcoin by the 15th of May. If users missed the deadline, the payment increased. Files remained encrypted until the ransom amount was paid. Sometimes even after users paid the ransom they were still unable to gain access back into their files.
Just a short month after WannaCry, another cyber attack hit, this time creating long lasting damage. An infected tax software update sent to businesses in Ukraine spread worldwide, disrupting the operations of some of the worlds largest companies.
Some of these businesses included Maersk, FedEx, WPP and Reckitt Benckiser. In some instances it took months before operations returned to normal, and related losses totaling more than $1B were declared.
In July, Microsoft’s Windows 10 update was going to have a variety of new features. Microsoft announced that, alongside Outlook Express, Reader app and Reading list, Microsoft Paint has been signaled for death having been added to the “features that are removed or deprecated in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update” list.
The outcry came after word spread that Microsoft planned to push Paint out of its software picture, putting it on the list of “deprecated” features that would be included in the company’s Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, set to be released this fall.
Tuesday evening, Microsoft published a blog post clarifying their plans for Paint. “Today, we’ve seen an incredible outpouring of support and nostalgia around MS Paint,” Microsoft said in its blog post. “If there is anything we learned, it’s that after 32 years, MS Paint has a lot of fans. It’s been amazing to see so much love for out trusty old app.”
A flaw was discovered by researchers in the WPA2 protocol that allows attackers within range of vulnerable device or access point to intercept e-mails, passwords, and other data presumed to be encrypted, and insert ransomware or other malicious content into a website someone is visiting.
The weakness allows attackers to target both vulnerable access points, computers, smartphones and other types of connecting clients, albeit with differing levels of difficulty and effectiveness. Neither Windows nor iOS are believed to be vulnerable to the most severe attacks. Linux and Android appear to be more susceptible, because attackers can force network decryption on clients in seconds with little effort.
The vulnerability is likely to pose the biggest threat to large corporate and government Wi-Fi networks, particularly if they accept connections from Linux and Android devices. And once again, attackers must be within Wi-Fi range of a vulnerable access point or client to pull off the attacks. Home Wi-Fi users are vulnerable, too, again especially if they connect with Linux or Android devices, but there are likely easier ways they can be attacked.
Cryptocurrency has been building along beneath the surface of the tech industry for some time but the end of 2017 saw Bitcoin burst into the public consciousness. The value of Bitcoin rose more than 15-fold during the year, peaking at more than $20,000 during December. Questions remain over whether the anonymous nature of the currency and its mechanics can be trusted.
Equifax Data Breach
A giant Equifax cybersecurity breach compromised the personal information of as many as 143 million Americans. Almost half of the country. Cyber criminals have accessed sensitive information- including names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and some driver license numbers.
On top of that, Equifax said credit card numbers for about 209,000 U.S. customers were exposed, as well as “personal identifying information” on roughly 182,000 U.S. customers involved in credit report disputes. Residents in the U.K. and Canada were also impacted.
Unlike other data breaches, not everyone who was affected by the Equifax breach may be aware that they are even customers of the company. People in Charles County Maryland, Calvert County Maryland, Florida, Texas, or pretty much anywhere could possibly be affected. Equifax retrieves its data from credit card companies, banks, retailers, and lenders who report on the credit activity of individuals to credit reporting agencies, as well as by purchasing public records.
Should all traffic on the internet be treated equally? That’s the question at the heart of the debate over net neutrality, rules which the Us Federal Communications Commission controversially voter to do away with in December.
The agency removed the net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or changing for higher-quality service or specific content. The federal government won’t regulate high-speed internet delivery anymore.
However, still far from a final decision on the issue, many consumers and online firms have expressed dismay at the decision, which they fear will lead to higher prices for access to some online services, particularly in the US.