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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  • See you later, SOPA. Oh wait, hello CISPA

    Only a few months after SOPA was defeated by the collective protest power of the Web, in spite of the White House threatening to veto such a bill should it pass across Obama's desk, the Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) came along and threatened to do just as much -- if not more damage than SOPA and PIPA would have done.

    With support from major U.S. technology firms, such as Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Intel -- and so on -- the bill would allow the U.S. government to remove legal barriers that currently prevent companies, though exempt from the Fourth Amendment, from handing data to the government in order to share intelligence easily across the various intelligence and law enforcement agencies, without the need for a warrant. In spite of it being a "cybersecurity" tool in the global war on terrorism and online crime, the term is not actually defined in the bill.

    Later in the year, though CISPA is still under review and yet to become law, President Obama signed a classified directive that would allow federal agencies to react accordingly -- including "offensive" action -- against those who breach networks, dish out cyberattacks and hack networks.

  • Flashback, the first major Mac attack

    The Flashback Trojan was the latest malware to hit Apple Mac machines running OS X. It ultimately led to Apple removing the "virus-free" slogan from its Web site and marketing strategy after the highly publicized malware attack. More than 600,000 Macs were understood to have been infected by unknowingly installing the Adobe Flash-lookalike software.  

    The malware was designed to pilfer user passwords and other data through the Web browser and other applications, such as Skype. Perhaps more worryingly, some users may find that the rogue software installs itself automatically without any user intervention at all.

    It was bound to happen; five years ago there was practically no malware for the Mac platform due to its all-but non-existent market share. As the Mac becomes more popular, it is increasingly becoming a target for hackers and data thieves. 

  • Middle East gets Flame'd in cyberwarfare, round two

    Not so long after Stuxnet was discovered in June 2010, another round of cyberwarfare attacks began in the Middle East. Dubbed "Flame" by the malware finder Kaspersky Lab, due to fragments of code noting the word in the source code, the sophisticated malware was about twenty-times the size of Stuxnet in file size and just as, if not even more dangerous.

    It was thought to be targeting machines in Iran, the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, Sudan, Syria, and others in the region, and was far more sophisticated than Stuxnet in a number of ways. However, instead of targeting the physical infrastructure attached to the network, it was designed to steal data and collect audio and video content from webcams and microphones.

    It was an intelligence-gathering piece of malware and clearly developed by a state-actor or government. But who exactly remain a mystery still. 

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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