Looking Back at 2016’s Most Explosive Cyber Security Stories

2016 was vicious for cyber security experts. There were several high-level data breaches and significant advancement in malware and perpetration of Denial of service attacks (DoS).  Reflecting on some of these events provides a rich source of information about anticipatable threats to cyber security in 2017. What are some of the lessons that we can draw from these incidences?

What were the prominent cyber security stories of 2016 that dominated the news cycle and internet?

Vulnerability in The Internet Of Things

The Mirai botnet took over smart devices and used their interconnectedness to launch attacks on the servers of DNS provider Dyn. Several websites were affected by this disruption which lasted several hours. The Mirai botnet of 2016 proved that consumer devices making up the IoT could be compromised by hackers as entry points into networks. Manufacturers have now been put on watch to ensure device components are secured to reduce the vulnerability of smart devices.

The Emergence Of Ransomware

In 2016, cyber security experts and users saw computers taken hostage remotely, and ransom issued for their release. Several versions of ransomware cropped up, each significantly more efficient than the previous versions. What’s more? We now have ransomware as a service. It means a user with basic computer skills can purchase ransomware and launch it as he/she pleases. Ransomware like Petya encrypts the victim’s files, including the master boot record.

Reported attacks have so far targeted individuals on their pcs. Private organizations and government should anticipate more sophisticated attacks from advanced ransomware to complex systems. Employing vigilance towards spam email is recommended as the standard preventative measure against ransomware attack. Other measures should, however, be taken too.

Hacked Government

The United States government agencies and public institutions suffered major attacks in 2016. It shows the world how cyber security breaches are not limited to individual citizens or private corporations.

These breaches included: a data breach at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in February 2016 targeting personal information of over 700,000 US taxpayers. Also, a hack into the US Department of Justice leaking personal information of about 20,000 employees; a data breach on the voter database of Arizona and Illinois, and a hack into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that saw private emails and communication between staffers displayed publicly on WikiLeaks.

With these government institutions on the receiving end of hackers, it is possible that more government systems are vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Yahoo’s User Accounts

Yahoo announced in 2016 that in 2013 and 2014, the company suffered separate data breaches affecting more than 500 million user accounts. At the moment, this is the biggest breach of user information in the history of cyber security.

And who could forget the data breach affecting over 400 million user accounts on adultfriendfinder.com, an X-rated services provider?

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