Cyber Week in Review: Mike Pence, North Korean Cyber Weapon & TNT

week in review cyber attacks

Another seven full rotations of the earth and another week goes by. With each week we bring you the latest cyber attack news to span the globe. Perhaps some week there will not be enough headlines to choose three to cover, but since cyber attacks continue to rise, that day isn’t here yet.

This week the current cyber attacks involve some cyber one-upmanship. Global actors flex a little muscle, sometimes to cause chaos or damage an economy, other times it seems just for a good laugh.

Here are three stories of recent cyber attacks.

Mike Pence Gets Mocked

The current presidency has supplied plenty of fodder for humorists and spoofers, from The Onion and Saturday Night Live to many a late night talk show host or blogger. Sometimes, the lines seem to blur between fiction and reality. Unfortunately, that blur can get kind of messy, when news agencies themselves lose track of where a story started, and the truth can be stranger than fiction.

In this case, Mike Pence was at the center of a joke. It wasn’t even a recent joke: on April Fool’s Day earlier this year, comedy site Funny or Die made a spoof of his official website. It was just a screenshot, with a headline stating, “see you tomorrow, for tomorrow is now today” and naming him the 46th President of the United States.

Funny or Die never did anything to the site itself. Yet, just recently the internet went a-tweeting about Mike Pence getting hacked. Left-leaners found it funny, while those on the right thought Pence had been the target of an intentional cyber attack. Political targets are frequently the mark of a hacker, but in this case, no, Mike Pence was not hacked, only mocked.

North Korean Cyber Weapons

In other recent headlines, there’s a lot of talk of tension between the US and North Korea. President Trump asked for China to assist with the situation, and vowed to act with or without their support. And while a nuclear threat from the northern Korean peninsula certainly would create an international crisis, the existing threat comes in the form of cyber weapons. North Korea, though famously dark from outer space, reportedly has a cyber army of thousands.

That cyber army has the potential to:

  • Create international chaos, such as with the WannaCry virus
  • Damage major western corporations, such as the attack on Sony Pictures
  • Steal to finance their own operations, such as the hack of the Bangladesh central bank

As you can see from this list, North Korea has already demonstrated their ability to launch cyber weapons. The problem from western nations is in retaliation: since their society is not as digitally connected, retaliation is ineffective and limp.

TNT Cyber Detonation

Speaking of chaos and damage, international courier TNT got caught in the crossfires of the NotPetya virus. The company has major operations in Ukraine, one of the nations to suffer the most in those recent cyber attacks (a wave of WannaCry, then Petya, then NotPetya that spread around the globe like a flu epidemic).

Furious customers have threatened to switch couriers, and other FedEx operations (the parent company) had to pick up some of the slack. The costs have been so high, it wouldn’t be a surprise if some rebranding and switching fully to the FedEx label were to occur. But whatever the response, companies need to continue to button down the cyber hatches: cyber attacks are not going anywhere.

For more cyber attack news, tune in next week: same bat channel, same bat time. In the meantime, here’s an important digital service announcement: enjoy the headlines, but stay out of them.

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