2017 was not a lucky year for cybersecurity. To be precise, it was one of the worst years, according to countless critical reviews. Most of the attacks were able to happen because companies do not pay enough attention to their cyber hygiene. There is a tendency of poorly protected servers and admin accounts, and this makes the job really easy for hackers. The cyberattacks highlighted the alarming vulnerability of our personal information, but which were these attacks? Today we summarised the most burning ones from the most recent period.
Probably the most famous ransomware of the recent past was WannaCry. This virus spread around the world at an alarming speed, leaving systems disabled in more than 150 countries. The ransomware targeted businesses running on an outdated Windows software and locked them down, including public utilities and large corporations. The hackers demanded money to unlock files, and the infections were so bad that, in an unusual move, Microsoft released a patch for Windows systems that it had stopped updating. In total, WannaCry netted almost 52 bitcoins, or about $130000, which is however not much for such viral ransomware.
2. Macron Campaign Hack
Just 2 days before France's presidential election, hackers released 9 GB of leaked emails from the party of Emmanuel Macron. The leak gave him minimal time to respond, as presidential candidates are banned from speaking publicly 2 days before the election. Statements were though released, and the attack proved to be less harmful than the WikiLeaks releases of DNC emails that were linked to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in the US.
A month after WannaCry, a new ransomware appeared, which seemed to target the same weakness of Windows systems. This malware was called Petya, NotPetya, and some other names. It seemed to be more advanced than WannaCry, but it had its major flaws as well. The malware spread to major global businesses, including FedEx, WPP, Rosneft, and Maersk. The ransomware hit Ukraine really hard, causing problems in public transit, and the central bank system and with this, the virus is said to be the latest in a series of cyber assaults directed against the country.
4. WikiLeaks and government tools
In March WikiLeaks published a data set containing more than 8000 documents allegedly stolen from the CIA. Those contained documentation of alleged spying operations and hacking tools. One tool, according to the documents, was malware that allowed the CIA to listen to targets through Samsung smart TVs, even while the TV was in off mode. Other revelations included tools for things like using Wi-Fi signals to track a device's location, and spying on Macs by controlling the fundamental layer of code that coordinates hardware and software.
5. Bad Rabbit
Posing as an Adobe Flash installer on news and media websites, Bad Rabbit was a major ransomware campaign that disabled many users who fell into its trap. The malware scanned the network it infected for shared folders and tried to steal user credentials as well as getting on to other computers. This was a reminder that people should never trust pop-ups for downloading new versions of a software.
Nowadays viruses and cyber-attacks are not created for destroying one’s computer like they did in the good old days. Besides ransomware like WannaCry, which demanded money to release the computer, most of the programs are designed to do nothing but use the computer’s resources for mining cryptocurrency or fishing personal data. Viruses like the “Iloveyou” are long gone, attacks usually go for more sophisticated prizes now, like stealing identity or top-secret information.
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