March has come and gone, and we saw the usual mix of good and bad news. From the fall of an operating system to the rise of blockchain, let’s take a look at the news highlights from the month that was:
Locky Hands the Baton to Cerber
Not surprisingly, ransomware has once again made headlines. On the positive front, Locky had the lowest infection rate since it was first launched in February 2016. The bad news, however, is that there’s a new sheriff in town: Cerber.
Cerber isn’t a new strain of ransomware. But in the past few months, its prevalence has waxed as Locky’s waned. This month, researchers discovered that the nasty strain of malware is now spreading through a new, sneaky social engineering scheme that leverages a DropBox link. Upon opening the link, Cerber’s payload downloads and self-extracts. Needless to say, we don’t expect to see the end of ransomware anytime soon.
Hasta la Vista, Vista
Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system, on the other hand, is a different story. We all had an inkling that the OS’s end of life was nearing, but it came sooner than expected. The Redmond computing giant officially announced this month that it will stop supporting Windows Vista after April 11 this year.
Users will still have the option to keep running the OS, but since Microsoft will not longer be providing critical security patches, they do so at their own risk. It may be time to finally cave, and update to Windows 10.
Blockchain Moves Up in the World
Blockchain, the bedrock of bitcoin, made big news this month.
As Vista comes to an end, blockchain is just getting started. This month, IBM partnered with Danish shipping company Maersk to make a blockchain-based shipment. It took about two weeks to transport goods between France to New Jersey. The utility of blockchain in this delivery – and the reason it’s of such great value to shipping companies – is its ability to foster transparent, real-time exchanging of supply chain events and documents. Since no changes can be made to records without the consent of others on the network, tracing key information and verifying its accuracy is easier.
At the moment, blockchain is being hyped as a possible panacea for everything from food fraud to illegitimate money transfers. In fact, this month the first blockchain information firm, called the Blockchain Research Institute, launched. Still, there are more questions than answers pertaining to mainstream use of blockchain. For the time being, we’ll have an ear to the ground.
Data Leak Affects 33 Million Plus
Closing out this review of March is the announcement of a 52GB database information leak. The database, which is believed to have belonged to Dun and Bradstreet, contained:
- More than 100,000 Department of Defense files.
- Approximately 90,000 files from the United States Post Office.
- Tens of thousands of files from Wal-Mart, AT&T, IBM and many others.
As of this writing, it’s unclear when and how the exfiltration occurred. The breach was only discovered after the database was shared with researcher Troy Hunt, who determined that the breadth of information had been meticulously pilfered. Updates are expected in the coming months.