The year kicked off with the Mandiant report on APT1, which offered undeniable proof that U.S. agencies and companies were being infiltrated by a group based out of China. But after everyone spent the first half of the year worried about foreign--possibly state-sponsored--attacks out of China, Iran, and Syria, Edward Snowden dropped a bomb that would change the conversation dramatically.
Snowden--a contractor for the National Security Agency--fled the United States (eventually finding temporary asylum in Russia) and shared with the world details about the NSA's spying on just about everything and everyone around the globe. The ripples from the Snowden revelations are still being felt, as U.S. citizens, the U.S. government, and the nation's allies struggle to find a balance between proactive diligence and overt violations of privacy and civil liberties.
"What he released essentially proved to the 10th degree that the U.S. government was itself infiltrating its own corporations and has been eroding the privacy of millions for years already," says Andrew Storms, a security researcher with CloudPassage. "The hundred-pound gorilla in the room wasn't China or Iran, but our own U.S. agency called the NSA."
"Perhaps the only good news from the Snowden leak is that it has forced a lot of companies to take a serious look at which data is important to them and how it's being protected," Melancon says.
Looking ahead to 2014, the looming threats are essentially the same. The threat from mobile malware will continue to grow, and we will continue to strive to protect our personal data--from cybercriminals and from our own governments.
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