Of all the technology stories of 2014, the topic that leaves the biggest impression is hacking. The big Target hack happened just before Christmas 2013, and while that certainly wasn’t the first time a company or organization got infiltrated, it was at the time the biggest, and paved the way for hackers’ domination in 2014. These incidents from 2014 have made a few things clear: 1. that no company is immune to the mischief of hackers; 2. that hacking is poised to be re-characterized as “cyber terrorism,” for better or for worse, and 3. these breaches are becoming the new normal. That may not be the cheeriest news, but it means that everyone, individuals and corporations alike, need to be aware of these threats and do whatever they can to protect themselves.
While the Sony hack remains front and center given the ensuing terror threats, movie screening cancellation, subsequent release of The Interview, and then the hacking of Xbox and Playstation networks on Christmas by a group calling itself “Lizard Squad,” there are a slew of other incidents this year that were bigger and worse (at least, for the masses) than Sony’s.
The arts and craft store first announced that it was looking into a possible hack back in January, and then revealed that a breach lasting months (May 2013-Jan 2014) resulted in the theft of roughly 3 million customers’ credit and debit card information. Michael’s subsidiary Aaron Brothers, a framing company, was also compromised. The security firms hired to investigate had never encountered the “highly sophisticated malware” use to perpetrate the incursion, which, like the Target hack, invaded systems at locations around the country.