Weirdest news of 2016

SC StaffDecember 14, 2016

Mock the vote: From the DNC breach to Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server to fears of hacked voting booths, cybersecurity played a surprisingly central role in the bizarre 2016 presidential campaign. On a less serious note, some of the election-themed cyber schemes that security experts uncovered were downright absurd. One spam campaign blasted out emails falsely promising a video of Clinton secretly exchanging money with ISIS leadership. Of course, the attached “video file” was actually malware. Researchers also discovered a ransomware program under development that was named and themed after Donald Trump. Oh, and for those who thought Clinton vs. Trump was a sideshow, just imagine how crazy things may have gotten if anti-virus maven John McAfee had won the Libertarian nomination over Gary Johnson.

He got “blindsided”: Considered a likely top-five selection in April's NFL Draft, Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil slipped to the 13th pick – losing millions of dollars in the process – after a hacker accessed his Twitter account and posted an old video of him smoking marijuana from a gas mask bong. The incriminating image called his character and judgment into question, causing several teams to pass on the promising athlete.

Disney's The Rescuers: Martin Gottesfeld, 31, who disappeared while under investigation for allegedly committing a DDoS attack against Boston Children's Hospital in 2014, was arrested in February after a Disney Cruise ship rescued him and his wife from a sailboat that became distressed off the coast of Cuba. Alas, it was not a fairy-tale ending for the suspected hacktivist.

Giving new meaning to “digital piracy”: Verizon's 2016 Data Breach Digest included a bizarre but true anecdote about literal high-seas pirates hacking into a shipping company's content management system in order to view key inventory data, so they'd know exactly what to steal when hijacking their targeted vessel. The marauders would even search the ship by bar bode in order to find their booty more quickly.

Dry humor: As a prank, a white-hat hacker with the alias “Ruby” inserted his own unauthorized video game onto Valve's online Steam store in order to demonstrate vulnerabilities in the gaming company's internal publishing platform. The game: an intentionally boring time-waster called “Watch Paint Dry.” In a March report describing his shenanigans, Ruby reported that Valve patched the flaws. Too bad – we were looking forward to a sequel. Perhaps next time gamers would have had to watch a pot boil.