Each week we bring you some of the biggest events in the cyberverse. Lessons get learned and more than a few laughs have been had, as cyber attack news often involves cyber blunders. This week rebels are on the rise: recent cyber attacks involve stories of pirates, wayward militia, and other assailants.
Here’s your cyber week in review.
The Home Box Office (HBO) cable network has had more than a few headaches this year: fan-favorite shows accused of “Not even trying anymore,” vendors compromised, and now another epic cyber attack from hackers. HBO loves a good epic story, but not necessarily being at the center of it.
This time, hackers broke directly into HBO’s computer networks, stealing an estimated 1.5 terabyte of data. “Game of Thrones” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” are two of the shows already confirmed to have episodes leaking online. HBO has not commented on the types of files hackers obtained, though they have confirmed the cyber attack. Internal data seems to also have been compromised, though a statement to HBO employees stated that it’s unlikely that email systems were hacked.
At least at this time, email data has not leaked. We will see how the next episode plays out.
In another movie-like scene, it seems that car washes could now directly attack customers. It is like a scene out of a movie: a digital device, under the control of a remote threat actor, turns on a human. In the car wash version, it sprays hot water directly at the doors of the vehicle, trapping the victim inside. Soon, the vehicle advances on its own and the large garage doors of the facility slam down repeatedly on the top of the car.
Only in this case, it is not the stuff of science fiction. Security researchers at the Las Vegas Black Hat convention set up and demonstrated this exact scenario to illustrate weaknesses in connected devices. Digital devices could indeed physically harm targeted victims, as demonstrated in earlier hacks of digitally-accessible cars and pacemakers. Until now, however, no hack has turned a connected device into an assault weapon. It sets a precedent science fiction authors have imagined for years, but now it falls on cyber security experts to resolve and prevent.
Many national websites have suffered cyber attacks. India and Pakistan have battled one another on the digital playing field. Ukraine and Russia are possibly currently engaged in cyber warfare, which also directly affected front-facing websites. In the United States, the federal government will even pay a bounty for successfully hacking certain government sites.
But this is new: in Venezuela, sympathizers for a small group of insurgents have attacked state websites. The hackers, calling themselves The Binary Guardians, targeted government portals that affected the function of Supreme Court and legislature websites. Private companies were also affected, such as DirectTV and the telephone provider Digital.
The hackers took to Twitter to announce their motives. “Our struggle is digital,” they said, “You close the streets, we do so to networks.” They further urged any other anti-government protesters to demonstrate “and support our valiant soldiers.”
Current cyber attacks are an indication of what is to come: as hackers utilize exploits and methods to leak data, damage government agencies, or physically attack their targets, those successes breed copycat threat actors. We live in an era of instant communications; satellites make global data accessible to anyone.
To quote a superhero, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Possibly, the power of our digital communications expands at a rate greater than the increase of responsibility.
Time will tell.