WEIRDEST cybersecurity news 2018

With all the serious talk of costly data breaches, threats to critical infrastructure and Russian trolls interfering with elections, sometimes it’s helpful to remember that there’s a lighter side to cybersecurity as well. Here are some of the weirdest stories from the past year that hopefully will put a little smile on your face before we have to turn our attention again to the next big threat.

I’m not a cyber expert. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night: The recently appointed deputy chief of Japan’s cybersecurity strategy office raised a lot of eyebrows this past November when he told his country’s parliament that he doesn’t use computers. Nevertheless, Yoshitaka Sakurada, 69, insisted that he could successfully carry out his job because he has learned to delegate out responsibilities since the age of 25. Sakurada reportedly became particularly confused and unable to properly respond when asked whether nuclear plants in Japan use USB drives. No worries, Yoshitaka. If this gig doesn’t work out, we hear there might be some U.S. Cabinet positions opening up in the near future.

Giving new meaning to “My Twitter account is blowing up: An official with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency caused panic last Jan. 13 after mistakenly pushing out a false incoming ballistic missile alert to island residents. But compounding the problem was that Hawaii Governor David Ige struggled to remember his Twitter password, delaying by roughly 15 minutes his attempt to inform social media users that the alert was a false alarm. “I have to confess that I don’t know my Twitter account log-ons and the passwords, so certainly that’s one of the changes that I’ve made…” Ige told reporters shortly after the incident, according to the Honululu Star-Advertiser and other news outlets. Now we just have to hope that his solution wasn’t changing his password to “password.”

Yes, We Can… pay? Let me be clear: “Barack Obama’s Everlasting Blue Blackmail Virus Ransomware” is one of the strangest malicious encryptors to show its face in 2018. Discovered by the MalwareHunterTeam, the malware encrypts only executable (.exe) files on infected computers, electing to ignore all other file extensions. Then it displays an image of the former commander-in-chief, asking victims for a “tip” in order to decrypt the affected files. Not very presidential.

He should have went with “Hacky McHackface”: Australia’s Children’s Court sentenced a 19-year-old Melbourne man to eight months of probation last September after he pled guilty to repeatedly hacking into Apple’s corporate systems between 2015 and 2017. The teen explained that he committed the intrusions because he was a big fan of the company. During its original investigation last year, the Australian Federal Police raided the teen’s home and found incriminating evidence saved in a folder named “hacky hack hack.” If only all investigations were that easy:
“Any clues linking Moriarty to the murders, Sherlock?”
“Call it a hunch, Watson, but perhaps we should look in this folder of Dr. Moriarty’s, labeled ‘killy kill kill.’”

From living at large to just living large? Researchers last February observed a strange spam-based phishing campaign that sent recipients a fake Apple receipt billing $9.99 to U.S. fugitive “Edward Snowden” for a 2 TB iCloud storage plan. Spam operations generally try to remain inconspicuous, “so we’re not really sure why the scammers went with one of the most well-known privacy advocates on the planet to fill in the personal information box,” wrote Chris Boyd, malware intelligence analyst, in a Malwarebytes blog post. According to Boyd, the randomly-grabbed address listed in the emails was lifted from a property website and belonged to a large house with nine bedrooms and four bathrooms. You’ve done well for yourself, Edward.

Honorable mention goes to document leaker and fugitive Julian Assange, who according to an October AP report was issued a memo from Ecuadorian officials, instructing him to mind his manners as a condition for getting his severed internet connection restored at the U.K.’s Ecuadorian embassy, where he continues to seek refuge. The memo instructed him to avoid meddling in other countries’ internal affairs, keep the bathroom clean and look after his cat.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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