March 22, 2023

2021 marks the end of another eventful year, filled with more pandemic-related pandemonium, bigger cyberattacks, massive digital transformation, and other incidents. This is the time for review and look back the events and that’s the reason a review on important happenings

Open-Source Software Security 

The adoption of open-source software has witnessed a significant rise. The presence of software in the public domain also entails that threat actors will try and take advantage of it. Below are some technological advancements made in the domain of open-source software to keep users safe from risks of potential exploitation.

  • Google and the Open Source Security Foundation developed a new open-source software program dubbed Scorecards. Scorecards is an automated security tool that can display a risk score for open-source software.
  • Google launched Open Source Vulnerabilities (OSV), which serves as a vulnerability database and triage infrastructure for open-source software. 
  • Building on the same OSV platform, in combination with the OSS-Fuzz vulnerability dataset, Google rolled out a vulnerability interchange schema that would define vulnerabilities in open-source ecosystems. 
  • Facebook unveiled an open-source tool, dubbed Mariana Trench, to detect bugs in Android and Java apps.   
  • The MITRE Cyber Analytics Repository (CAR) is another open-source project that supports both blue and purple teams. It is a knowledge repository for analytics based on the MITRE ATT&CK model. MITRE CAR provides detection mechanisms for multiple techniques, tactics, and procedures used by bad actors.

Threat Actors Infrastructure Dismantled

While the year was incessantly plagued by different kinds of malware, law enforcement agencies and tech giants across the world were able to bring a lot of notorious actors to justice. 

  • Recently, Google dismantled the Glupteba botnet that was active since at least 2011. 
  • Microsoft seized 42 malicious domains used by the Chinese threat actor Nickel. 
  • Facebook disrupted SideCopy, a Pakistani hacking group, which used the social media platform to target Afghan government officials and other Afghan users. 
  • Although Emotet was recently revived, one of the best news of the year was when Emotet’s infrastructure was taken down by Europol and Eurojust. It took the malware 10 months to make a comeback. 

Dark Web Marketplaces Made Offline

Dark web marketplaces are the breeding grounds for all kinds of illegal activities and products. The anonymity provided by dark websites may make cybercriminals feel invincible. Nevertheless, the year observed international law enforcement operations against some of these marketplaces, which were promptly shut down.

  • The U.S., in collaboration with the Netherlands, Germany, and Romania, took down the infrastructure of the online marketplace Slilpp. The marketplace used to sell stolen online account login credentials. 
  • French authorities took apart another dark web marketplace, named Le Monde Parallèle. 
  • The U.S., Germany, Denmark, Australia, Ukraine, Moldova, and the U.K tore down DarkMarket, the world’s largest illegal dark web marketplace. Following this action, a ten-month investigation was conducted, which led to the arrest of 150 drug buyers and vendors. 
  • The operators of another dark web marketplace, White House Market, closed shops after two years of operation. While the site mainly advertised illegal products, it was mainly infamous for its narcotics section, where most vendors belonged from Europe.

Other Important Events

When we talk about security, it encompasses securing every facade of physical security, including but not limited to data, servers, and communications. Proper encryption ensures that the entire system is protected from cyber threats. While cyber adversaries are always on the lookout for sensitive data, stronger encryption methods have become necessary.

  • CSIRO’s Data61, the digital specialist arm of Australia’s national science agency, the NSW Government, and the Australian Computer Society (ACS), among other groups developed a privacy tool—Personal Information Factor (PIF)—that assesses the risks to an individual’s data within any dataset, allowing targeted and effective protection mechanisms to be put in place.
  • Purdue researchers designed a self-aware algorithm that can protect electric grids, nuclear power facilities, and manufacturing plants against hacking attempts. This model sends one-time signals to each component and converts them into active monitoring systems.
  • A team of researchers at U.K’s Liverpool Hope University designed an external scanning device that acts as a gateway or barrier between a USB drive and a computer to scan for malicious software, reducing the risks of malicious drives infecting a system.
  • A new kind of optical fiber filled with thin air was discovered to be effective for performing Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) – a security protocol that, in theory, cannot be hacked and, hence, can play a major role in protecting sensitive data against advanced cyberattacks. 
  • Computer scientists from Columbia Engineering created a system, namely Easy Secure Photos, which encrypts photos in the cloud so that attackers cannot decipher them.

In Coming posts we will see all items individually in depth. Stay tuned for further updates !

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