Welcome to Codebook, the cybersecurity newsletter that didn't actually hide "Avengers" spoilers in last weeks newsletter. We made that up.
With special thanks to the Industrial Exchange conference for letting us moderate a panel on Tuesday, and slightly less thanks for posting this photo of it. There's a list of questions to ask the panel on that phone, we promise.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
We probably have as much as a decade before quantum computers pose a threat to the encryption systems that sit at the foundation of contemporary cybersecurity. But we'd better start strengthening that foundation now if we hope to protect it down the road, experts say.
Why it matters: Encryption is critical for economic and national security, protecting trade secrets, communications, and classified information.
The big picture: Quantum computers, which take advantage of the spooky weirdness of quantum mechanics, can solve certain types of complex problems in fewer steps than a traditional microprocessor (or, for that matter, a human). One of those problems is reading data that's been protected by any of several common encryption algorithms.
The catch: Ask most of the rank and file working in cybersecurity, and they'll tell you that quantum computing is more a topic for barroom conversation than an imminent threat.
But, but, but: While it could take a decade to develop a quantum system that attackers could use to crack our codes, it could take nearly as long for defenders to migrate from vulnerable algorithms to new systems based on quantum-safe encryption.
The timing: Complicating matters further, while quantum computers may be a decade away, data encrypted today may need to be secret for more than a decade. So while we may not go toe to toe with quantum computers until much later, we need to start using post-quantum encryption now.
Next steps: Lawmakers, including Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), are pushing for greater U.S. investment in quantum research.
This week, Verizon released its annual Data Breach Investigations Report — a sort of clearing house for breach statistics gathered from dozens of security firms. The most interesting part of the report, author Gabe Bassett tells Axios, is a detailed look at how attacks progress.
Details: Attacks often take multiple steps to succeed — a hacker may steal credentials through a phishing email, then install malware to exfiltrate data. But according to Verizon's data, the odds of failure exponentially increase with each additional step.
By the numbers: The Verizon report doesn't give specific numbers, but does compile which types of tactics are most likely to occur at different points in an attack.
Screenshot from DeepDotWeb
Five days after authorities at Europol announced seizing two dark web criminal marketplaces, U.S. authorities announced taking down a dark web market directory/news site in collaboration with Europol and other authorities.
Why it matters: Dark web markets provided an anonymous forum for drug and other illegal purchases.
Details: Europol announced seizing the Wall Street and Silkkitie marketplaces late last week. Wall Street had more than 1,150,000 users and 5,400 vendors.
Russia-linked hacking group Turla has been using newly discovered LightNeuron malware to infect Microsoft Exchange email servers since 2014, according to the cybersecurity firm ESET.
Details: LightNeuron can read, edit, compose and block emails.
SWIFT, the interbank messaging system used globally to coordinate the financial sector, will increase its IT division by 125 people, or 15%, in 2019, the firm announced, focusing on improved services including security.
Why it matters: SWIFT was used in a series of digital bank robberies attributed to North Korea.
The Israeli military bombed suspected Hamas hacker HQ: It was one of Israel's targets in returning fire after rocket attacks. Israel announced its completed attack on Twitter Sunday as part of a spree of posts taunting Hamas. (Twitter)
Microsoft releases vote verification system: Microsoft announced 2 new elections tools Monday, including a free, open source system allowing voters to be sure their votes were accurately counted and third parties to check voting totals without seeing balots. (Axios)
Cyber attack technically disrupted energy grid: The United States has a very broad definition for when energy providers have to file a disruption report. So, although a DDoS attack waged against an unnamed U.S. power utility did not affect power generation or distribution, the utility did file a report on March 5. (EENews)
Baltimore ransom: Wednesday marked day 2 of Baltimore's struggles with the RobinHood ransomware locking city employees out of their systems, emails and phone systems. (Ars Technica)
Yes, but: Baltimore is actually in a pretty good place, all things considered.
Codebook will return next week on Thursday.