6th December 2023 12:59 pm
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The most important international cybercrime incidents of 2021

The year started off with a bang somewhere in the depths of the Capitol Building in the US.

Yes it was just six days into the new year when rioters entered the Capitol building and filmed themselves breaking the law. Those rioters then posted everything to Parler where somebody decided the best course of action was to scrap the website’s data and make it available for anybody to search.

That data has been used to help identify rioters and many have been brought to justice since then.

While we don’t classify scraping data a crime, we’re including this story in our look back at cybercrime incidents over 2021 because of what the rioters did. Not only did they storm a building where the elections were being finalised, they then saw fit to film themselves and post it online.

This showed us that as many people as there are that worry about their privacy online, there are many more who simply don’t see the internet as a real thing.

Later in February a truly worrying story reached our ears. A hacker was able to breach the city of Oldsmar’s water treatment plant computer systems and adjust the levels of sodium hydroxide in the water.

Fortunately, a plant operator was on duty and was able to correct the adjustments before any harm was done. Hackers will hit any target they can. If it uses a computer chip and connects to the internet at all, it needs to be secured.

Of course we can’t ignore the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline which Darkside claimed responsibility for. The firm responsible for transporting 2.5 million barrels of fuel through 8 900km of pipe was struck by a ransomware attack this year and paid a ransom of $4.4 million for a decryption tool.

While the advice is to never pay the ransom the Colonial Pipeline said that it weighed the pros and cons and ultimately the right thing to do was pay the ransom.

In June, JBS’s meat production was interrupted by a ransomware attack. This attack was claimed to be executed by REvil, a notorious hacking group based in Russia and shut down meat plants in the US and Australia. Ultimately JBS paid a ransom of $11 million.

One major incident we’re still dealing with is the Log4j vulnerability that can be used to run remote code execution on a logging server or any server really. While IT teams have been quick to address the vulnerability, we suspect that Log4j has opened a can of worms we’ll only now the full horror of in a few months.

Finally, Pegasus. This story is what we’d describe as evergreen because so long as the NSO Group is doing business, spyware and its use in spying on journalists, activists, government officials and citizens will be a fixture in our modern world.

This year Amnesty International highlighted how Pegasus spyware was able to infect all modern iPhones up to iOS 14.6 through an exploit. While the exploit has been patched, spyware will remain a concern in future and one of its manufacturers will continue to make it until it’s no longer profitable.

Cybercrime has been a fixture throughout 2021 and that won’t change in 2022. The best we can do is guard against the constant barrage of threats.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

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