Last updated: 29 December 2017
With 2018 upon us, it’s important we take stock of the data security trends and threats that defined 2017. Several notable trends emerged over the course of the year, after all, and these will no doubt continue to shape the data security landscape into 2018 and beyond.
Here are four such remarkable data security trends that helped mold the past year:
1. International Malware Outbreaks
One of the most notable data security trends of 2017 were three strains of malware made headlines for attack campaigns that swept across national boundaries. On 12 May, WannaCry ransomware got things going with an outbreak that claimed the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica, and at least 200,000 other organizations worldwide as victims. NotPetya followed less than two months later when the Petya impersonator/wiper malware struck a Ukrainian power supplier, France’s Saint-Gobain, and close to 17,000 other targets primarily in North America and Europe. Both attacks leveraged EternalBlue, an exploit which abuses a vulnerability in Microsoft’s implementation of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, for distribution.
It wasn’t until October 2017 that Bad Rabbit, a strain of Diskcoder, reared its head. This malware used drive-by attacks as its primarily means of infecting users. As a result, it infected only a few hundred computers mainly located in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Turkey, South Korea, the United States, and a few other countries.
2. Mega-Breaches (and Curious Responses)
In light of the hacking attack disclosures involving LinkedIn, Dropbox, Yahoo (which only got worse), and others, history will no doubt remember 2016 as the “Year of the Mega Breach.” 2017 didn’t produce as many mega-breaches as 2016, but it nevertheless yielded some notable data security incidents…with some equally extraordinary responses. You can find a database of data breaches going back to 2013 in Gemalto’s Breach Level Index.
For instance, Equifax acknowledged in the beginning of September that hackers had breached its systems and thereby compromised the personal information of 143 million American citizens. Consumers’ personal data was simply left unencrypted. Things went awry on the day of disclosure when the credit bureau directed concerned users to visit a resource to verify if they were victims of the breach. That resource was located at a separate site riddled with bugs. Additionally, a slow disclosure time and subsequent gaffes on Twitter led Brian Krebs to call the response a “dumpster fire.”
Two months later, the world learned of the data breach at Uber that compromised 57 million driver and rider accounts in 2016. The ride-sharing company ultimately met the hackers’ ransom of $100,000 to ensure the attackers deleted their copy of the stolen data. It then went further by insisting the hackers sign a NDA, camouflaging the ransom payment as a bug bounty program payout, and remaining silent about the breach for more than a year.
3. CIA Hacking Tools
In the spring of 2017, WikiLeaks published a series of documents pertaining to the Central Intelligence Agency’s hacking operations. Detailedin those leaked sources are various tools used by CIA agents to infiltrate their targets, including malware for smart TVs and iOS exploits. The documents even include borrowed code from public malware samples.
Symantec subsequently analyzed those hacking tools in April and linked them to 40 attacks in 16 countries conducted by a group called Longhorn. It’s unclear how many additional attacks those tools have since facilitated.
4. Attacks against Cryptocurrency Exchanges
One Bitcoin was worth just $979 on 1 January 2017. Since then, its value has multiplied more than 13 times, with its rate peaking at $19,843. Investors no doubt celebrated that price explosion. But they weren’t the only ones tracking the digital money’s increase. Malefactors also saw the rise of Bitcoin; they took it upon themselves to try to hack various exchanges for the cryptocurrency. Indeed, at least eight marketplaces have suffered data breaches as of 23 December, with Parity Technologies losing $32 million in Ethereum and hackers stealing $70 million in Bitcoin from NiceHash. One can expect this data security trend to continue into 2018.
What Made 2017 Stand Out for You?
Also, what other data security trend grabbed your attention in 2017? If so, let me know in the comments!