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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.