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2013 IT Security Review

It’s been a busy year in the information security industry. We saw several breaches this year and heard much talk around “cyber warfare”.  Some three-letter agencies have been in the news with spying, wiretapping, and hacks. 

In the beginning of the year the Hacktivist group, Anonymous, performed a prolonged denial-of-service assault targeting “The Spamhaus Project, a European spam-fighting group that had gone after CyberBunker, a data-storage company that offers to host any content “except child porn and anything related to terrorism.” The attack used more sophisticated DDoS techniques to damage the web’s infrastructure, which took the site offline.

The Syrian Electronic Army grew this year, which landed them on the FBI most wanted list. In April, the group compromised the main Twitter account of the Associated Press and falsely reported the United States President was injured in a surprise attack on the White House. This small, false report caused panic and spurred the stock market to fall over 150 points. In August, they reappeared taking down Twitter and the New York Times through a domain name provider hack.

The controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which would allow the sharing of internet traffic between the US Government and technology companies was reintroduced by the House in February 2013. The bill was passed in the House but was never voted on in the Senate.

The year 2013 put an end to privacy with the news of the NSA spying on millions and the real life Bourne Identity movie with Edward Snowden. The owner of Lavabit decided to shut his business down after the NSA requested access to all of its customers data. Lavabit was the email provider that Edward Snowden used. With the news of spying, Internet giants called for transparency and released their first reports. These include Google, Apple, Facebook, and others.

It has also been the year of the Bitcoin. The crypto-currency has been around five years but, in November of 2013 the price of a single coin hit an all time high. In October, the FBI and DEA shut down the illegal drug network Silk Road, which was funded with Bitcoins for all users to stay anonymous.

Many government, health care, technology, and software sites were exploited, vulnerable or hacked throughout the year. Evernote was a big one in March, followed by LivingSocial, Ubuntu, WordPress, Apple, LastPass, Pinterest and many, many others. We also can’t forget about the Baby Monitor hack! With these breaches came responsible reactions from the companies and led to increased security. Two step authentication grew in 2013 with Apple, Evernote, Microsoft, Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, and others trying to protect their users’ privacy.

With the new year coming we will continue to see new breaches as malware gets more sophisticated and hackers use new technological avenues to gather information. Hurricane Labs will continue to learn and grow within the industry to protect businesses and clients from these future breaches.

This article accompanies our “2013 IT Security Review” podcast.

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Christina O’Neill has been working in the information security field for 3 years. She is a board member for the Northern Ohio InfraGard Members Alliance and a committee member for the Information Security Summit, a conference held once a year for information security and physical security professionals.