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December 2014 Volume 16 / No. 10

Information Security 2014: Shifts ahead after a watershed year

As another year ends, we look back to try to figure out what we can take away from the security blunders and breakthroughs in 2014. It was a year of ongoing mass surveillance and game-changing data breaches. Was a tipping point finally reached? In a perfect storm of hemorrhaging credit card info, one retailer after another in 2014 had their point-of-sale (PoS) systems fleeced by way of sloppy defenses and rampant malware. Target Corp., as patient zero, replaced all its card-swipe machines with chip-and-PIN equipment while, at Black Hat in early August, Ross Anderson (once again) reminded us that chip-and-PIN is broken several times over and in ways that he was happy to show proof-of-concept videos to illustrate. Vendors talked about "advanced threats" as if the phrase meant something when it came to security product selection. The old C-language program code that keeps the Internet ticking broke down in frighteningly low-tech ways and no one noticed. To borrow a phrase from Dickens: Overall, 2014 represented the worst of times ...

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