It might seem obvious to write this but here at Security Gladiators, we are a bunch of people who are passionate about subjects such as information security and hacking.
At Security Gladiators, we try our best to cover stories related to information security and hacking every single day of the year.
And our goal is simple:
To tell online consumers each and every piece of important information and stories regarding the world of cybersecurity and hackers.
The unfortunate thing in this equation is that there is no way for us or any other publication on the planet to cover all the cybersecurity stories.
In fact, more often than (completely) not, various other publications on the internet manage to get to such stories earlier than Security Gladiators does.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
In fact, it is OK.
This is just one of the ways modern journalism works.
Because of that, this year, Security Gladiators thought it might actually be a good idea for us to highlight some of the most important cybersecurity stories that we missed.
Truth be told, we took a decent amount of inspiration from the official Jealousy list of Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
The post we have linked to above basically highlights that portion of the magazine where it mentions some of the great work that other people in the field have done over the past 12 months.
Readers should call this Security Gladiator’s Cyber Jealousy list.
More specifically, just a humble hat tip to some of the greatest cybersecurity stories around the world that come to online consumers from some of our most fierce online competitors.
Even more specifically, we want readers to think of this as a tribute to all those journalists along with their stories that gave the online world something to envy a bit and push all other folks including the ones at Security Gladiators to do better next time and try our best to serve the only thing that matters in journalism:
So without further ado, this is our mostly incomplete list of the best cybersecurity stories about information security and hacking that Security Gladiators not only loved but also wished it had covered before anyone else.
This is where certain questions about the given cybersecurity firm’s actual responsibilities arise.
Should it expose certain kinds of hacking operations even though exposing them might help malicious actors?
In the story that we have linked above, Cyberscoop managed to show the industry that sometimes cybersecurity companies do make decisions of unmasking campaigns that targeted legitimate and dangerous threats such as various terrorist organizations.
Plenty of news publications have explored such dilemmas in their long form columns where they have mentioned Kaspersky Lab and its work just a few weeks after Patrick O’Neill’s and Chis Bing’s scoop.
There is no doubt about the fact that the United States government and the whole of its massive intelligence apparatus actually suffered a pretty much deadly blow in People’s Republic of China in the year 2012 and 2011.
These were the years when more than a total of two dozen CIA informants and sources were killed.
However, what many readers may not know is that the bad run of form actually started in Iran of all places back in 2009.
This was the time when hackers managed to break into the CIA covert communications system which was internet-based.
These details along with many others were revealed by Emma McLaughlin and Zach Dorfman in a somewhat bombshell of a report.
There are those times when the best weapon that a given hacker has the option of using is not really a phishing kit or an exploit but the online media.
Let’s explain that.
If an actor is able to discredit his/her enemy with the help of some relatively cheap ways such as enticing modern journalists with a major scoop, then he/she has as close to a winning strategy as is feasibly possible.
All that readers have to do is to have a look at Guccifier 2.0.
Allegedly, a persona that the government in Russia created and managed to use it to distribute some rather explosive hacked material regarding Democrats.
The story that we have mentioned above actually managed to break open a whole new avenue of various reporting opportunities for a ton of cybersecurity sites such as Security Gladiators.
In a nutshell, the story revealed that the market finally saw the arrival of someone who had the ability to sell relatively inexpensive tools for the purposes of unlocking iPhone devices.
As expected, the story led to a widespread and quick proliferation of not just the technology among the notorious three-lettered United States intelligence agencies along with many others of the world, but the story also managed to raise up a similar interest in local and state level law enforcement agencies.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the story had ramifications for a ton of other things in the recent and so-called debate about Going Dark.
Not only that, but the story also kicked off a brand new and updated game of cybersecurity cat and mouse between Grayshift and Apple.
Anyone who has followed any type of cybersecurity news for a decent number of years would know that the FBI has complained about technologies such as encryption and others, pretty much since the beginning of the 1990s era.
However, in the last couple of years or so, especially after the incident when Apple flat out refused to assist law enforcement agencies to unlock an iPhone that allegedly belonged to a terrorist, the battle has really gone up a notch.
The Washington Post scoop that we have linked to above actually showed the world that the FBI officials trotted out numbers regarding how damaging technologies such as strong encryption and others had become during their investigations, which were not only overstated but sometimes also totally incorrect.
To put it in simpler terms, encryption technologies do not present as big a hurdle in various investigations as the FBI would love for the public to believe.
Our research shows that Ryan Gallagher was probably the first journalist who broke the news that the technology giant, Google, had initiated plans to develop a search engine just for China.
Not only that, the Chinese version of Google search engine would actually censor various terms around protests and human rights abuses.
However, Ryan Gallagher also managed to remain at the very top of the story in order to further develop it.
In fact, his detailed reporting managed to spark widespread protests both among various different human rights organizations and internally within the company (Google).
So much so that it also raised questions at a specific United States Congressional hearing.
Apart from that, just last week, Ryan reported that the search engine giant (Google) had actually hit a major roadblock in moving forward with its China project as the disputes surrounding the project had grown internally.
The story from Ryan Gallagher on Google further reminded the public one more time that even those technology companies that, in their past, have had a good record for giving due consideration to various human rights do not always have to stay the same and that they can change.
Moreover, the story also showed that even a handful of people, in this case, employees, have the power to change the course of a technology company whose revenues go well into the billions.
Continuing on with the same topic of Google employees speaking up and standing up against a more or less controversial project, another story regarding Google and the company’s lucrative contract actually broke long before any of the Googlers went out and organized marches for the purposes of protesting against their own employers.
This is where the relentless reporting from Kate Conger came into the equation and may actually have led the technology giant, Google, going ahead to shut down its program with the Pentagon.
Many believe that the story from Kate was actually one of the first and many original stories which, in the end, assisted in kicking off a brand new wave of employees protesting against their Silicon Valley employers and going against their company policies.
No one needs more convincing that Facebook has had a torrid year where the company’s bosses have had to face tough questioning from the Congress and bear a disastrous PR campaign in its attempt to reverse the damage done to the company’s reputation as a trustworthy company
However, the highlights surely have to go something like,
There is a slight chance that some of our readers might have forgotten or simply missed this great Gizmodo story.
However, we can assure readers that this story is well worth their time.
With some assistance from a full team of smart and hard-working researchers, Kashmir Hill managed to prove how Facebook actually went about mining the user’s cell phone data including the user’s contacts in order to suggest to the user new friends on its social network service.
The company also used the same user data to serve users better and targeted advertisements.
We believe that there are only a handful of media outlets that have the required reach, dedication, and more importantly resources to take such a story and then present that story in a manner that the general population has a chance of really understanding as a security issue more than anything else.
And this, according to our research, is one of such stories.
Of course, the knowledge that apps lift a lot of user data and then share the device’s location with who knows how many third-party services is not really a new phenomenon.
However, that is exactly what the Times team did.
More specifically, it produced such a definitive piece on the story that it easily managed to tangibly explain way what the story meant for the privacy and each and every individual who happened to own a smartphone device.
Lots of media sources have extensively covered stories regarding the use of malware in cases of stalking, abuse, and domestic violence.
The Times piece that we have linked to above carefully looked at the possibility of the same technology being used in homes via the Internet of Things.
If readers think about it, it only makes sense that would be the next step.
We think this piece is definitely a good read if readers are concerned about how the latest advances in technology may impact the day to day lives of non-technical ordinary people.
Of course, there is a chance that readers might not have any such concern.
If that is the case, when what is such a reader doing here reading a post that is exclusively about cyber articles?
Kevin Poulsen, a hacker, has the ability to bring some of the most interesting and cool technological methods and approaches to modern journalism.
In this story, Kevin Poulsen managed to find a dodgy web browser plug-in/extension/add-on that belonged to the controversial troll army in Russia by the name of Internet Research Agency.
After finding the extension, he actually managed to purchase the domain that linked to the extension.
That allowed Kevin to fully observe all the different types of data that the extension had managed to collect on users and from where it did that.
Kevin actually found that the Internet Research Agency had spread its software application on computers in many different places.
The story should act as an important reminder for all of us of how even journalists can and should approach a given story from a unique, different and technological angle.
There is little point in writing about hacking, spyware, and malware if one can’t even show the readers of such writing how modern online technology affects the lives of real people in the real world.
It goes without saying that each and every great and useful infosec story must provide readers with the human angle of things.
The story that we have linked to above serves as a great example of that.
Matt Braga actually visited some of the recent victims of various hacking programs sponsored by the government.
Government-funded hacking programs represent a growing problem which put regular people living in various parts of the world in real danger.
Marcus Hutchins, a security researcher who is better known by his online name MalwareTech assisted firms to stop WannaCry.
WannaCry, as most of our readers would know is an infectious malware which went viral and reached some of the highest number of machines in the history of malware outbreaks.
The piece that we have linked to above mentioned an in-depth profile and tries to answer a little known, but nevertheless, a universal question as far as the world of information and cybersecurity is concerned:
Is it always a must that a hacker hero should have a past?
And if that is indeed so, then is there something law enforcement agencies should do with the hacker?
Readers would do well to file this under “those companies that no one has never heard of doing various sketchy things which have the potential to affect all online consumers.”
It goes without saying that The New York Times managed to score another big scoop when it revealed that a firm by the name of Securus Technologies which provide and monitored inmates phone calls actually let, more or less, anyone track anyone else’s cell phones for a rather small fee.
According to the Times investigation, anyone could find the whereabouts of any other given cell phone within the United States of America within seconds thanks to a product from Securus.
Some other publications found out later and perhaps even unsurprisingly that the firm titled Securus Technologies actually did not secure user data the least bit.
It goes without saying that the outbreak of NotPetya, a very destructive malware, never really managed to capture the attention of the community that it truly deserved.
Perhaps the reason for that is, NotPetya came around the scene just a few short weeks after Wannary ransomware outbreak that grabbed all headlines.
In the thrilling tale that we have linked to above, Andy Greenberg actually does the NotPetya malware some justice.
Part of the story is actually from Andy’s upcoming book.
Andy has talked at length about how the NotPetya malware crippled the biggest shipping company on the face of the earth.
There is a downside to this story as well.
And that is, readers would probably want to read more about the full store
However, in order to read the full story, readers have no other choice but to wait for the complete book to come out in the coming months.
Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.
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