Welcome to our weekly roundup, where we share what you need to know about the cybersecurity news and events that happened over the past few days.
Below you’ll find a quick recap of topics followed by links to news articles and/or our blog posts providing additional insight. Be sure to check back each Friday for highlights of the goings-on each week!
Last week, yet another American hospital was tossed into chaos after its computers were infected by hackers. The hospital got hit with ransomware, a particularly nasty type of computer virus that encrypts computer files. Hackers don’t give you a key to unlock documents until they are paid a ransom. It’s only the latest medical facility to be hit this way, falling in line with a prediction by cybersecurity firm Trend Micro that “2016 will be the year of online extortion.”
TV show scenarios are no longer just the stuff of Hollywood writers’ over imagination. As our lives become increasingly digitized and connected through the Internet of Things (IoT), those kinds of hacks are becoming more and more plausible. Especially with Gartner estimating the number of connected devices in the consumer and business sectors to reach 20.8 billion by 2020 — and many of those devices not necessarily being designed with security in mind.
A recent cyber-attack has highlighted the worrying gaps in the cybersecurity of utility companies, which could be hijacked with potentially lethal results. A report from Verizon found at least one example where hackers were able to access the computer systems of a water treatment plant and affect the treating process, exposing people to potential health risks by drinking polluted water.
In the early years of the Obama administration, the United States developed an elaborate plan for a cyberattack on Iran in case the diplomatic effort to limit its nuclear program failed and led to a military conflict, according to a forthcoming documentary film and interviews with military and intelligence officials involved in the effort. The plan, codenamed Nitro Zeus, was designed to disable Iran’s air defenses, communications systems, and key parts of its power grid.
Are cyber-militant groups in Pakistan targeting the Indian military? This is our question when we came across an information theft campaign in India that has stolen passport scans, photo IDs, and tax information from 160 Indian military officers, military attaches stationed in the said country, consultants, and resellers. Some evidence suggests that the attackers behind this campaign, which we’re dubbing “Operation C-Major,” are based out of Pakistan, although no evidence suggests ties to the government.
Barack Obama just became the first U.S. president to write a line of computer code. The gesture is part of a national push for computer science education. In fact, the White House recently announced a $4 billion “Computer Science for All” initiative that will help educate the next generation of coders.
NASA doesn’t patch its computer systems quickly enough, which could lead to severe network security gaps, according to Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller, who spoke to several sources about the status of the space agency’s information technology (IT)operations, including one former official who wished to remain anonymous.
You may remember some months ago when researchers were able to hack into a Jeep and actually take the steering and braking abilities away from the driver. The hacker had full control of the car. Now, General Motors put out the call to hackers asking them for help. They want anyone who can find a cyber security issue in a GM car to please share it with the automaker.
High school students thinking about a college education and career in the cybersecurity field may want to begin preparing now. There are numerous programs to help high schoolers learn about cybersecurity, gain experience for potential summer internships, and enhance college applications.
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