3 times cybersecurity intersected with the topics most searched this year on Google

When cybersecurity interrupts real life; sh*t gets real

Each year Google’s year in search report reveals the topics that are top of mind across the globe. In 2022, the top 5 topics in the U.S. hivemind included where to vote, election results, and gas prices. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, these topics were also top of mind for cybersecurity professionals for days because of their role unsticking what got stuck, when multiple companies were compromised.

As we reflect on the year past, I’m reminded of a few times various kinds of cybersecurity threats made a difficult year even more unpleasant. Here’s three times when topics in my work life intersected with the fabric of my real life.

Gas Prices

Colonial Pipeline made headlines in 2021 when it shut down its operations in response to a ransomware attack that hobbled the then little-known company’s 5,500-mile network responsible for delivering half the gas made available to the East Coast.

There were many lessons learned in the following investigation and debrief of the event. Among them, we hope, are no matter how obscure you think your business might be, you’re not too small to target and cybersecurity is not trivial. The effects of the 2021 hack, reverberated well into 2022 as gas prices remained uncharacteristically high in the U.S. for months; and we all paid the price.

Voting & Elections

Phrases like “election results” and “early voting near me” were among the top four searched topics in 2022. I’m reminded of a Politico story published earlier this year that discussed modems and known vulnerabilities, that some say are not secure enough to protect election result data in transit. 

Conversely, votes aren’t the only avenue for toppling an election. Tampering with votes is but one method. In 2022, we saw coordinated voter suppression campaigns knock over election information sites in the days leading up to an election with ddos attacks; indirectly suppressing the vote. 

Voters in Mississippi searching for voting information on several state websites on election day could not find it. People who can’t find polling place information on voting day, likely don’t make it to the polls. This is significant in a state like Mississippi, where early voting is not an option. This year was a midterm election. Let’s hope Mississippi is ready for 2023.

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Where to Get Tested & Report Results

Retrieving COVID-19 test results is an anxiety producing process alone. Imagine discovering that the testing company you trusted your DNA and medical information to stores your test results and the results of others who used their test in plain view. 

That’s the security flaw a Total Testing Solutions customer found when retrieving their test results. The company has since patched the problem, but not before exposing 60,000 test results, according to Security Magazine.

And no crisis is complete without the opportunists and grifters posing as legitimate actors in a rapidly evolving high stakes situation. In the wake of the COVID test shortage, pop up testing sites began appearing in communities all over the country seemingly to fill a gap during health crisis and supply chain challenges. 

Sadly, negative reports began flowing in about people experiencing price gouging or having their communications channels flooded with phishing texts and emails.

Each of these real life examples begs the question, what new challenges will 2023 bring? Be ready for them by partnering with us to face them head on. In business, getting ahead of a potentially hairy situation beats chasing the 8 ball every time. Our expert team is ready to build the cybersecurity program of your dreams.

Leave procrastination in 2022. Get in touch below. 

Lauren Jones

Marketing Director

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