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Surveillance state: A secret no more?
A decade ago, we could have mused about the U.S. government "spying on everything we do." In fact, in 2007, The Simpsons Movie made exactly that joke when the world-renown family was on the run from the law. The cartoon's creator Matt Groening was probably chuckling to himself as he mapped out the plot, to which a massive room of spies are listening to the conversations of everyone talk on the phone.
And yet, only a few years later, former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden evades his former employers by jumping on a flight to Russia where he claimed asylum, not long after pilfering thousands of top secret and classified documents relating to the U.S. government's (and its allies) surveillance efforts.
With PRISM and Upstream, Tempora, and dozens of other programs, the U.S. really has the ability — at very least — to monitor to our calls (despite claims by President Obama to the contrary). It turns out The Simpsons' were indeed onto something all those years ago.
Image: Seth Rosenblatt/CNET
Malware gets worse, cyberweapons confirmed
Ten years ago, Windows XP was all the rage. Apple had only a sliver of the desktop operating system pie at the time. And thus, it was rarely attacked by hackers and malware writers. But as Apple machines became popular towards the end of the last decade Mac malware began to boom. The Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant was even forced to remove claims that its Mac machines don't get viruses.
From the desktop and into the palms of our hands, smartphones exploded in popularity. Malware writers and cybercriminals began targeting Android devices, which remain at the top of the mobile market share space. Even iPhones and BlackBerrys, though significantly bolstered in terms of app and ecosystem security, were prime pickings for data thieves and cyber-scammers.
And those cyberbaddies weren't limited to basement-dwelling folk. The U.S. government was also scouring for the latest malware exploits so they could install it on adversaries' machines in order to spy, surveil, or surreptitiously shut down their operations. From Flame to Gauss and Stuxnet, these state-sponsored strands of malware were enough to temporarily cripple Iran's nuclear ambitions, according to reports.