BleepingComputer’s most popular cybersecurity and technology stories in 2021

2021 is over and we can look forward to a hopefully healthier, safer and more normal 2022.

However, it was a big year for technology and cybersecurity with massive cyber attacks and data breaches, cutting edge phishing attacks, privacy concerns, and of course, zero-day vulnerabilities.

However, some stories were more popular with our readers than others.

Below we list the ten most popular BleepingComputer stories in 2021 with a summary.

10. Fired employee of a credit union in New York destroys 21 GB of data in revenge

A former New York credit union employee pleaded guilty to hacking into the financial institution’s computer systems and destroying over 21 gigabytes of data in revenge after his release.

As part of the revenge attack, the defendant deleted over 20,000 files and around 3,500 directories during this time, making a total of around 21.3 gigabytes of data on the bank’s shared hard drive.

9. The phone numbers of 533 million Facebook users have been leaked in a hacker forum

After the first attempt to sell the data, an attacker leaked the cell phone numbers and other personal information of around 533 million Facebook users worldwide in a hacker forum for free.

What was special about this leak was that it contained member information that was scraped out of public profiles as well as private cell phone numbers linked to accounts.

The data included 533,313,128 Facebook users, including a member’s cell phone number, Facebook ID, name, gender, location, relationship status, occupation, date of birth and email addresses.

While Facebook said the data was scraped off with a bug fixed in 2019, it still contained a treasure trove of personal information that could be used for targeted phishing or intrusion into other accounts.

Example of scratched-out phone numbers from the area code 917
Example of scratched-out phone numbers from the area code 917

8th. New phishing attack uses Morse code to hide malicious URLs

A phishing campaign was discovered to use a novel obfuscation technique that uses Morse Code to hide malicious URLs in an email attachment.

Since phishing emails are often intercepted by security software and secure email gateways, threat actors tried a clever tactic of converting malicious URLs and landing pages to Morse code to avoid detection.

This additional code would then be decrypted by embedded JavaScript in the HTML attachment when it was opened.

Phishing attachment with morse code
Phishing attachment with morse code

7. New zero-day exploit for Log4j Java library is a nightmare for companies

While this story ranks # 7 among the most read articles, it probably deserves # 1 due to its global impact and use by threat actors.

Last month, exploits were published for a critical zero-day vulnerability in the Apache Log4j Java-based logging library, which allowed attackers to remotely execute almost any command on vulnerable servers.

With many other applications using Log4j, threat actors quickly exploited the Log4Shell vulnerability in cyberattacks to deploy ransomware, install the Dridex banking trojan, or sideways onto VMware vCenter servers.

6th Adult content from hundreds of OnlyFans creators leaked online

A shared Google Drive folder was shared online which revealed the private videos and pictures of hundreds of OnlyFans accounts.

While it’s not uncommon for people to share OnlyFans private content, this leak stood out due to the many creators who were affected by the leak.

BackChannel founder Aaron DeVera told BleepingComputer that the Google Drive folder originally contained folders for 279 OnlyFans creators, with one of the folders containing over 10GB of videos and photos.

5. How to fix Windows 0x0000011b network printing error

2021 was a complete mess for Windows printing, with security updates after security updates causing more problems for Windows administrators than we have seen in a long time.

This started after a Windows printer spool vulnerability called PrintNightmare was accidentally discovered. This disclosure led to the disclosure of a number of public exploits that threat actors quickly used to launch attacks.

To address the vulnerabilities, Microsoft has released numerous security updates that restricted Windows printing functionality and caused numerous errors when attempting network printing.

One problem that arose as a result of these fixes was a Windows 0x0000011b error preventing users from printing, causing massive headaches for Windows administrators around the world.

Fortunately, a fix was discovered that allowed Windows administrators to resolve the Windows 0x0000011b network printing errors.

4. Canon is suing for disabling the scanner when printers run out of ink

Canon USA has been sued for banning certain printers from scanning or faxing if they are running out of ink that is not used for those functions.

A Canon customer has filed a class action lawsuit for fraudulent advertising and unjust enrichment by the printer manufacturer.

Since at least 2016, customers who contacted Canon about this issue have been told by support agents that ink cartridges must be installed and contain ink in order to use printer features, as shown in the agent’s response below.

Canon support message regarding ink requirements
Canon support message regarding ink requirements

3. Over nine million Android devices infected with information-stealing Trojans

A large-scale malware campaign in Huawei’s AppGallery resulted in around 9.3 million installations of Android malware that mimicked over 190 different apps.

The threat actors have hidden their malware in Android apps posing as simulators, platformers, arcades, RTS strategies and shooting games for Russian-speaking, Chinese or international (English) users.

The functionality of this trojan allowed attackers to carry out various malicious activities including spying on SMS texts and downloading and installing other malware.

2. Researchers hack over 35 technology companies in a new type of attack on the supply chain

With a new addiction confusion attack, a researcher breached the internal systems of 35 large companies, including Microsoft, Apple, PayPal, Shopify, Netflix, Yelp, Tesla, and Uber.

The attack involved uploading malware to open source repositories such as PyPI, npm and RubyGems, which were then automatically distributed downstream to the company’s internal applications.

Unlike traditional typosquatting attacks based on social engineering tactics, this particular supply chain attack did not require any action on the part of the victim, who automatically received the malicious packets.

Proof-of-Concept Package for Dependency Confusion
Proof-of-Concept Package for Dependency Confusion

1. The Windows 10 error is corrupting your hard drive when you see the icon of this file

This year, our most popular story was a zero-day vulnerability in Windows 10 that triggered corruption alerts and then triggered chkdsk on NTFS formatted hard drives.

To do this, the attacks could issue a one-line command that attempts to access a special Windows NTFS index attribute, as shown below.

While the corruption warnings are fake and have not appeared to be a problem for most people, it caused the Blue Screen of Death to crash on some of our tests, as seen in the video below.

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