In the third quarter of 2014, attention was focused on celebrity account hacking and corporate data breaches. By the end of the quarter, cybersecurity professionals had received yet another agonizing reminder that no system is perfect with the announcement of the Shellshock bug affecting the BASH shell. Cybercriminals also used global tragedies, such as Ebola and airline disasters, to further enhance their phishing, spam, and malware distribution efforts.
The High-profile Data Breach Quarter
From celebrity Apple iCloud accounts to Home Depot and the possibility of a Backoff-type virus attack on their point-of-sale systems (POS), virtually no one went unscathed as a result of this wide-spread and high-profile hacking. Consumers found that cybercriminals once again had access to their credit card numbers, celebrities learned that personal and private information had been shared worldwide via the Internet, and corporate CEOs began to count individual data breach losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Bugs and Malware Left Unchecked
The announcement of the discovery of a major flaw in the BASH shell left computer programming and cybersecurity professionals reeling. Having gone unnoticed for over 20 years, the Shellshock bug leaves hundreds of millions of devices, including servers and computers, vulnerable to major attack. As consumers learned that once again their personal credit and banking information had been stolen from a major corporate retailer, news reports began to circulate that Home Depot had a long history of failing to update security systems and fully fund cybersecurity staff. Coincidentally (or not) a few weeks prior to the Home Depot announcement, the U.S. federal government released a warning about the Backoff malware indicating that it was the focus of several POS data breach investigations. It seems that while all top antivirus providers had updated their antivirus services to protect from Backoff, retailers had not been updating their systems.