A year in cybersecurity and cybercrime: 2012 review

A year in cybersecurity and cybercrime: 2012 review

Summary: During the year, we have seen the destruction of SOPA and PIPA but the emergence of CISPA and similar laws around the world, a growing trend in hacks and scams, an explosion in malware, and states committing cyberwarfare on their friends and foes. Here's a run-down of what happened in 2012.

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  • Wikileaks discovers 'global spy ring' that wasn't

    As part of The Global Intelligence Files released by Wikileaks, the TrapWire system was uncovered. Nobody quite knew what it was, but it was dubbed a "global surveillance system" that could monitor potentially almost anyone at any given time. 

    In short, the potential for abuse was huge and it became a global concern for ordinary citizens over the course of the week the news came out and more information about the system became available by the whistleblowing organization. However, it wasn't actually as scary as people thought.

    It was developed and maintained by a private company and owned by a mysterious parent company -- ergo the two companies avoided public scrutiny and accountability -- but used by other private industry firms along with various governments on both sides of the Atlantic.

    However, it turned a lot of the information was the chief executive and other executives boasting about the system's capabilities, which were vastly overblown and overrated at the best of times. The controversy became somewhat of a dud, but it gave a valuable insight into what governments attempt to (and often succeed at) find out about us as ordinary people. 

  • Philippines next in the cybersecurity legislative line

    And next, as if you thought there couldn't be any more in terms of cybersecurity and cybercrime legislation, the Philippines was next to crack down on Internet freedom in the country.

    Signed into law in September by the country's president, it aims to combat pornography, hacking, identity theft and spamming after the country's law enforcement agencies complained that it did not have the legal or practical tools to combat the rapidly rising rate of cybercrime.

    In a statement by the president's spokesperson, the law was defended: "The Cybercrime Act sought to attach responsibilities in cyberspace… freedom of expression is always recognized but freedom of expression is not absolute," showing just where the government's priorities are. Hackers in protest of the law defaced many government Web sites in the process. 

    However, after only one month, the country's Supreme Court suspended the law while it was determined if it violates civil rights.

  • White House network breach

    Another day, another attempt on the President's networks -- but in this case, the hackers got through. Don't worry: no damage was done and thankfully the network that was broken into was an unclassified network with no sensitive material up for grabs -- even if the attack was aimed at the White House Military Office, home of the so-called "nuclear football," that carries the codes to the U.S. government's nuclear arsenal.

    Thankfully, no classified or secret materials were taken. What caught out the home of U.S. politics was "spear phishing," where an email attachment laden with malware was sent to a specific target, in the hope that malware would be installed on the computer allowing in a backdoor to the network. If it makes you feel any better, the vast majority of highly sensitive material are sent over classified networks that aren't even connected to the wider Web, making breaches like this almost impossible.

Topics: Security, Apple, Browser, Government US, Legal, Networking, Outage, Privacy, EU

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13 comments
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  • Is that all?

    Seems a rather short article for the headline. Well, I am glad that the White House will veto legislation like SOPA and PIPA and, hopefully, any Trojan Horse legislation that incorporates similar stuff, such as the various trade agreements that threaten to do the same thing. However, the US is fairly practiced at getting other countries to introduce such legislation.
    Mahegan
    • yeahhhh...you have to look harder.

      There are 14 "image" screens you can scroll through each with its own article.....Be more "techy"..lol
      Civsoldier52983
  • Is that all?

    Seems a rather short article for the headline. Well, I am glad that the White House will veto legislation like SOPA and PIPA and, hopefully, any Trojan Horse legislation that incorporates similar stuff, such as the various trade agreements that threaten to do the same thing. However, the US is fairly practiced at getting other countries to introduce such legislation.
    Mahegan
  • Other legislation

    Philippine cybercrime law must protect, not harass, citizens - for example, this article.
    Mahegan
  • Headline Improvements, Please?

    Firstly, I enjoy this site and I visit frequently -- so kudos to you all for your articles and your clear, attractive, website layout!

    Secondly, may I suggest that you tone down the shrill of your headlines? The title of this article is a good example. A look back at ONE event is not an annual review in any way.

    As well, the title of another article "One in five Microsoft logins are in hands of hackers" is as grossly sensationized as it is misleading.

    Thanks for reading.
    ReadandShare
    • It's not just ONE event...look haaarderrrrrr

      There are 14 "image" screens you can scroll through each with its own article.....Be more "techy"..lol
      Civsoldier52983
  • multi-page article format = counter-productive

    Dear ZDnet,
    Read a few of these comments - clearly your dear readers aren't noticing that it's a 14 "page" article that one must keep clicking through to see the whole thing.
    Clearly, your (and many other publication's) transparent attempt to increase page impressions & eyes-on-ads is a failure. Can we please get back to normality now?
    techydude71
    • Matter of opinion..

      I don't think it's really that much trouble to click a single button for a new page, honestly. I believe the reasoning for multiple pages may have been because they wanted to show the image for every article. So, having a single page with all these images and articles would be a much bigger page. I realize it still comes down to a matter of opinion, but being their site sharing this wealth of information, I'd think they can decide on their own between the two options.
      Civsoldier52983
    • All that REALLY needs to happen...

      Is people need to open their eyes a little more and not be so used to the convenience of everything being universally aligned. If they signed up for the site, they have to have SOME level of intelligence...
      Civsoldier52983
  • ...and by the way...

    "This year in..." articles should never been seen until well into December, not mid-November - just makes you look like idiots.
    techydude71
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    cslide
  • Zack,

    Love the work, hate slide shows.

    Stick with column format. I won't sit here clicking next and waiting for the page to load.
    mlashinsky@...
  • A run-down of what happened in 2012.

    Very interesting and well put together in a format that I am pleased with. Please keep up the outstanding articles, Zack Whittaker. I look forward to reading your IT, informative information.
    RichsAC