August in Bug/Virus/Breach
Viruses and bugs have a long lasting relationship with humans. Some make them sick, some make them helpless. Imagine your laptop running into a virus attack, moments ahead of a client meeting! Your client may assume you are faking it, but we believe you, since such attacks have been happening time and again, affecting one infrastructure or the other.
While we have been discussing such attacks every month, it’s time ‘August’ too makes its presence felt.
A trading glitch cost Knight Capital Group $440M in 2012. Officials said that the organization accidentally bought stocks that it did not intend to buy and was forced to sell them at a lower price. This incident affected the stability of the organization and also dug a hole in the budget that was used to run the business.
The blackout in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States is worth mentioning here. What was supposed to be a localized power outage turned out to be something of State concern. The widespread outage continued for two whole days in most of the regions. An estimated 55 million people were affected. It was found that the immense loss was caused by a software bug in the alarm system at the FirstEnergy Corporation control room. The bug caused operators to remain unaware of the need to re-distribute load after overloaded transmission lines drooped into foliage.
In an unexpected problem in one of the computers at the Virginia Air Traffic control center, a number of flights got delayed at the airports in Washington DC and New York city areas. The computer used to process flight plans and the glitch forced authorities to halt departures of all planes at the DC area’s three major airports.
In a major outage caused by a system rebooting, Skype experienced failure in its system recovery functions. This happened due to an unidentified software bug. Later, in an announcement, Skype said that due to abnormally high number of restarts, Skype’s network resources failed. This flooded in requests for log-in in bulk, which prompted a chain reaction that had a critical impact on the usage of the software. Since the system reboot requirement was issued by Microsoft, Skype blamed it for triggering instability.
America’s most notorious dating site for affairs, hookups, and discreet encounters-Ashley Madison-too wasn’t spared from the fallout caused by a bug attack. Its website was hacked and confidential information of approximately 37 million users were made public. The company later agreed to pay a settlement amount of $11.2 Million to its users as compensation. By that time, the hackers posted this sensitive data on the dark web, leading to blackmail and even suicides.
The very first web page, which can be found online at its original URL, went live on August 6, 1991. At this point, it was only available to users at CERN, and it was a short page explaining what the World Wide Web actually was. On August 23, 1991, new users outside of CERN were invited to join the web, marking its official anniversary, or Internaut Day.
In a worldwide outage, affecting Windows XP and Vista users, pirated versions of Windows seemed to have affected close to 12,000 systems. The outage was said to have lasted from 3:30 pm PST on August 24 till 11:15 am PST on August 25. In a later announcement, Microsoft ensured its users that it has not been running non-pirated versions of Windows using Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) system.
The first chain email, for Make Money Fast , was forwarded this day. Although not a virus or a bug per se, it still became infamous for its approach of making quick bucks online. The letter encouraged the readers of the email to forward one dollar in cash to a list of people enlisted in the mail and to add their own names and addresses in the list after deleting the name and address at the top. This strategy was popularized as Pyramid schemes, which allowed a single person on the trail mail to earn thousands of dollars. The scam was said to have been forwarded by a student, continues to remain unidentified. Nevertheless, Make Money Fast has turned into one of the most persistent scams in recent times.
In an alleged system failure, world-renowned HSBC bank left thousands of people without money in their bank accounts on their pay day, ahead of a long bank holiday. According to newspaper reports, HSBC claimed that the problem was caused by a flaw in the information included in a file submitted to Bacs, the system British banks used to process millions of direct debits and direct credits.