Technology > IT

Photo by: CCO Public Domain via Pixnio

 

The year started out with debates over how social media was shaping national discourse in politics, the environment, social issues and a host of other matters. Then in March, WikiLeaks was publishing documents on alleged CIA hacking tools and a group - the Shadow Brokers -- released hacking tools a month later that was developed by the NSA The said tools could make hackers access and gain control of desktops, laptops, and cell phones. 

The first Shadow Brokers-released tool, the WannaCry, was a ransomware that was able to encrypt the contents of a hard drive and demand payment in Bitcoin. A worm used an NSA hack called Eternal Blue that gained entrance through a vulnerability in a file sharing service in unpatched Windows computers.

WannaCry infected some 300,000 computers worldwide and brought down systems in England’s and Scotland’s National Health Service, in Nissan and Renault automobile factories, at Spanish telecom Telefónica, and others. 

Petya struck after WannaCry had run its course, also relying on the NSA hack Eternal Blue and affecting banks, nuclear power plants, trains, and airports.

Next was the discovery of an unsecured database of some 198 million Americans on Amazon's S3 storage service as Deep Root Analytics, a data company hired by the Republican Party misconfigured the database.

There was also the Equifax breach wherein Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses of some 145 million people were stolen by hackers who accessed the credit reporting records of the agency.

There was also identity theft as more than 200,000 people had their credit card numbers stolen.

In November, it was announced that hackers also stole some 57 million Uber rider and driver accounts during the previous year with the company paying $100,000 to the hacker to keep things quiet.

The year is ending and debates still rage in social media but more of the attacks are now coming from former insiders. 

In November, Facebook founder Sean Parker said that social networks were “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology." Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya also said, “We have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”

Facebook itself said that social media can be harmful — that posting and liking without conversing can lead to worsening moods and declining mental health.