9 of 14Image
DNSChanger, the 'Internet Armageddon': A busted flush?
DNSChanger was a worry for many, after the malware infected more than 45,000 machines around the world. It changed DNS settings on the infected computer in order to serve up adverts, which would then revenue for the malware writers. Though U.S. federal regulators discovered the malware, it was not immediately shut down. The whole thing had a 'Y2K feel' to it, meaning many would suddenly lose access to the Web once the malware network was shut down.
The FBI kept the machines going for a while so there would be no abrupt halt to Web access by those who were infected. Even social network Facebook and search giant Google notified users visiting their sites if they were infected with the malware. But once the FBI shut down the servers after months of warning, it turned out to be a "disaster" waiting to happen that never actually was.
It wasn't "Internet Armageddon," rather just a bad hair day for a few thousand.
Malaysia's answer to SOPA
You can probably see a running trend here. First SOPA and PIPA, then CISPA, and across the pond and past Europe we had the Russian blacklist. And it didn't stop there.
In Malaysia, a new amendment to the Malaysian Evidence Act, dubbed 114A, would mean Web site administrators, Web hosting providers, Internet providers, and those who own a computer or mobile device "on which [content] was posted" would be held accountable for any "illicit" material -- such as defamatory, seditious, or libelous content -- posted online. What if someone steals your smartphone and posted something 'grossly offensive'? The phone owner would be liable. It wasn't fair and people rightfully became angry.
There were claims that the Malaysian government wanted to bring out the new amendments to help silence political opponents during the upcoming election. However, the government denied this. The Internet blacked out in Malaysia just as it did around the world earlier in the year to protest the changes.
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.