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2021: The Year Plagued By Ransomware And Data Breaches
The year 2021 was dominated by ransomware and cyberattacks as huge disruptions hit government agencies, big firms, and even supply chains. At the start of the year, the NSA, the FBI, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said that Russia was behind a cyberattack against a company called SolarWinds that develops software for the federal government, major tech firms, and hospitals.
The hackers managed to sneak in malicious software into an update of the company's Orion IT software products. The software was downloaded by thousands, giving cybercriminals access to their systems. However, the Russian authorities denied any involvement in the cyberattack.
These attacks also hit major tech firms including Apple and Facebook. Both tech giants dealt with cyber threats that put user privacy at risk. Both firms were also faced with hard questions about how much data, which could endanger user privacy, should be collected.
Ransomware Have Become Biggest Tool For Hackers
This year also showed that ransomware has become a strong tool for cybercriminals to rob money. Ransomware encrypts a system until victims pay for tools that can give back access to their data. Cybercriminals have targeted big firms that will pay huge sums to avoid being shut down.
In May, attackers hit Colonial Pipeline and JBS USA and received a payout of millions of dollars in ransom in form of bitcoins. However these two high-profile weren't the only ransomware cases this year. Over $590 million has been reported by banks and other financial institutions as ransomware payments, as per a report by the Department of the Treasury.
The US government has also scaled up its defenses to fight against cybercrimes. To make it a bit harder for hackers to ransom US firms, the Treasury Department said it will sanction cryptocurrency, insurance companies, and financial institutions that facilitate these payments.
Data Privacy Also Took Huge Blows
Cupertino-based Apple also found itself in the middle of data privacy controversies this year. The company was forced to deal with a threat that put the privacy of its users and security on the line while trying to strike a balance in its own data privacy practices.
In September, the firm rolled out an emergency patch for the OS that runs its iPhones, smartwatches, and iPads to get rid of all the vulnerabilities to the Pegasus spyware that was created by Israel's NSO Group.
Apple also received a lot of backlash when it proposed a feature that would scan all the devices for images of child abuse. Privacy advocates argued that the approach would create a backdoor for governments to exploit users' right of expression. Apple had to delay the feature due to the heat it faced.
Data Breaches Became Frequent
Data breaches reported in the first nine months of 2021 surpassed the total of last year, as per the Identity Theft Resource Center. Web host GoDaddy and mobile carrier T-Mobile were among the firms to report data breaches that resulted in the theft of user data.
McDonald's also reported breaches that compromised the data of its employees. Attackers also moved their crosshair on the gaming firm Electronic Arts that included the source code for the soccer game FIFA 21. We hope the year 2022 is nothing like 2021 and companies upgrade their firewalls to prevent any data breaches or ransomware.