Largest Cybersecurity Events of 2017, So Far

Largest Cybersecurity Events of 2017, So Far

The beginning of 2017 was impressively quiet in regards to cybersecurity attacks and events: reported breaches were down, breaches that were reported were either relatively inexpensive or effected a ‘small’ number of users. None were big enough to grab media headlines, until May.


Since then, we have seen some of the cybersecurity largest attacks in history. Here is a list of those we consider to be the most severe:



On May 12th, a strain of ransomware called WannaCry spread around the world, walloping hundreds of thousands of targets, including public utilities and large corporations (Wired). The cybersecurity Wanna-cry ransomware attack became as powerful as it did because many users had not updated their systems. However, it didn’t see the payout we’re sure they expected. Wanna-Cry netted less than $130,000 and was uncovered to be a North Korean tactic geared at generating revenue.


When all was said in done, the attack effected systems in over 150 countries. It’s estimate that losses caused by Wanna-Cry could end up costing over $4 billion.


Voter Records

In June, a cyber-risk expert uncovered that a conservative data company had a publicly accessible database containing personal information for 198 million US voters—possibly every American voter going back more than 10 years (Wired). There was no hiding this – it was accessible to anyone that had the link. This was not a hack, but a result of a misconfiguration. Misconfigurations are often the biggest cybersecurity risk across the board.



If you contacted Verizon’s customer service from Feb – July, there is a good chance your records might have been compromised. The security issue, caused by a ‘human error’ is now assumed to impact as many as 14 million customers. The incident stemmed from NICE security measures that were not set up properly. The company made a security setting public, instead of private, on an Amazon S3 storage server — a common technology used by businesses to keep data in the cloud. This means Verizon data stored in the cloud was temporarily visible to anyone who had the public link (CNN Tech).

Remember, human error is responsible for over 80% of all cybersecurity breaches and events.


On September 7th, Equifax announced that 143 million of their customers had their information stolen:  name, date of birth, address, and Social Security numbers. The breach was  initially discovered on July 29th. Additionally, over 200,000 credit card numbers of customers have also been stolen. To try and remedy things with their customers, Equifax is currently offering free LifeLock to all, not just those who had their information compromised.


Adding to Equifax’s mountain of troubles, the US justice department has opened a criminal investigation into the sales of the company’s stocks…Three senior Equifax executives sold shares worth a total of $1.8 million on August 1st and 2nd, a few days after the discovery of the breach on July 29th (The Verge).



Attacks are not be coming at the rate that we’ve seen in previous years. However, the total damage they’re causing is costing more than ever. Threat actors are evolving and their tactics are becoming more sophisticated. Because of this, companies are starting to take a more proactive approach to their security posture. Don’t wait until you’ve been hit to take action.


5thColumn has a wide spectrum of both strategic and tactical services, including assessments, aimed at making sure you have the best defense on your side. If you suspect your organization is experiencing a breach, please see our best practices guide for incident response here and get in touch with us right away.


Remember, the best defense is a good offense.