IT Freedom Blog

2019 In-Review

by Jessica Baker on

Most of us are back in the office, and 2020 is in full swing! Back in December we took a look at what we should expect to see this year, but now we want to take a look back at 2019 for a bit, the good, the bad, and everything in between! 

Top Headlines of 2019

5G(ish)

At the beginning of 2019 it seemed like 5G was ready to make its way onto the main stage and not just in "select cities". Qualcomm even held a press event to say that 5G was going to change the world that year, but obviously that wasn't the case. After rollout issues, delays, and companies using 5G only as a marketing tactic, 5G most definitely didn't impact 2019 like they thought it would, but Qualcomm is now saying "2020 is the year 5G goes mainstream"...so I guess we will have to wait and see. But 2019 was definitely not the year of 5G. 

GDPR Fines

In 2019 the ICO fined both British Airways and Marriott International because of data breaches from 2018. These were the first fines levied by the ICO since GDPR went into effect. While many were concerned that the fines weren't large enough to have any meaningful impact, 60% of users in a twitter poll indicated that they believed the fines would cause their organization to take GDPR more seriously. While the United States doesn't have anything resembling GDPR yet, many are taking notice and it's definitely something we should all be looking at. 

Bluekeep Vulnerability

Back in May of 2019 Windows alerted users twice to necessary patches in vulnerable systems including:

  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2

Although Windows sent out two alerts, both the NSA and the CISA issued their own alerts later in the year, why? These systems are vulnerable to the Bluekeep exploit attack. In November of 2019 the first Bluekeep hacking campaign was reported, and the attack was confirmed by Microsoft, along with another push for users to update/patch their Windows systems.
*cough, cough* This is still an ongoing threat, so if you haven't patched your Windows systems, we recommend you do so!

2019 Cybersecurity Statistics

Every year how we approach cybersecurity and the reasons behind our approach seems to vary slightly. Here are some statistics from 2019 that may impact how we approach cybersecurity in 2020.

  • Half of all cyberattacks were aimed at small businesses
  • There was a new ransomware attack every 14 seconds
  • 34% of executives view cybersecurity as a competitive advantage 
  • Business email compromise cost businesses $26 billion in 2019
  • 7% of email threats in 2019 were classified as "email blackmail"

2019 Hacks and Breaches

Unfortunately, even with all the advances in cybersecurity that came about in 2019, we did still see quite a few notable hacks and breaches. 

Fortnite - January 2019

The breach exposed the personal data of 200 million players, by exploiting a web page vulnerability through a breach point on an unsecured Fortnite webpage. 

WhatsApp - May 2019

1.5 billion users were left potentially vulnerable. When users answered a call, spyware was automatically installed on their phones. This spyware was tied to an Israeli private security company although they denied involvement. 

April 2019

A third party app, Cultura Colectiva, left the data of over 540 million Facebook users vulnerable on a private server. And then a second breach occurred via another third party app, affecting another 22,000 users. Third party apps have caused quite a lot of issues for Facebook recently. 

Amazon Web Services - July 2019

Hackers breached improperly secured Amazon cloud storage exposing 30GB of credit application data, including 1 million Canadian Social Insurance Numbers, 140,000 Social Security Numbers, and 80,000 bank account numbers of both Canadians and Americans. 

Collection #1 - January 2019

Troy Hunt alerted the world to one of the largest collections of exposed data. This collection included 2.7 billion rows of data, equalling 1.1 billion unique email address and password combinations. This collection was compiled from previous breaches like the ones involving LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Dropbox.

Door Dash - September 2019

An unauthorized third party gained access to user data on May 4, 2019 and potentially exposed 4.9 million users, including anyone who joined the service before or on April 5, 2018. 

Miscellaneous 2019 Tech

In 2019 a lot of announcements were made about new technology that was scheduled to be hitting the market. While many of those products didn't make it to market, there were a few that did, or at least made significant progress over the past year.

The Wall

Samsung Introduced a 146 inch 8K screen, AKA "The Wall", composed of bezel-less units that could be assembled like legos. Samsung also introduced several different sizes of The Wall, making it available in 73, 75, 219, and 292 inch versions with varying resolutions. It's been reported that third party retailers have listed individual modules at $16,000, but keep in mind that to reach the 146 inch size you need 16 modules. But to really get your hands on this you have to go through Samsung directly. 

Foldable Phones

For years we were all excited about getting away from flip phones, but here we are again, trying to blend the current smartphone technology with the old school flip phone styles. They haven't all been successful, and many are either on a waitlist or not slated for shipping to the US, but there are a couple that many in the US are keeping their eye on:

The Electric Truck

While it isn't set to start production/shipping until later this year, Amazon led a $700 million round of investment funding for the electric truck produced by Rivian. Rivian is hoping to take gas guzzling "adventure vehicles" and turn them into fully electric cars. The launch vehicles, R1T and R1S, offer 400+ miles, with off-road capabilities, and will be produced in their facility in Normal, IL. 

While 2019 was an eventful year, both good and bad, it was also a very big development year for many cybersecurity advancements, and product announcements that we will likely see come to fruition in 2020. 

If you're looking for what 2020 may bring, take a look at our 2020 outlook, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest tech news. 

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