Top TechCuE: 2021 highlights from the IT world

2021 has also come to an end. The year in which we hoped to be able to defeat Covid-19 or at least to stem it proved to be another huge challenge to face. Innovation, for its part, has never stopped , once again providing fundamental help in the fight against the pandemic. Having reached the gates of 2022, we have decided to retrace the highlights of information technology of the closing year , certain that 2022 will bring even more progress.

Highlights 2021: information technology and the pandemic

It still seems far away the day when information technology will have to stop worrying about the coronavirus. Last year too saw technology as a protagonist in the fight against the pandemic, reconfirming itself as a fundamental ally for monitoring infections. 2021 will be remembered by all as the year of the green pass . The vaccination certificate, introduced from 6 August in Italy, has changed the lifestyle of the entire population, introducing restrictions and controls to stem the infections.

The green pass is certainly among the highlights of the IT world of 2021
The green pass is certainly among the highlights of the IT world of 2021

The introduction of the pass has generated many doubts and perplexities, unleashing the anger of many but, on the other hand, increasing the percentage of vaccinated and consequently the coverage of the entire country. A shock that has also brought a lot of curiosity, especially on the functioning of the QR Code , which before the green pass was little known and used by the masses. Although many restaurants and bars had already begun to use it, for many it was still unclear how it worked. Now, thanks to daily use, the code has become an integral part of our lives, also becoming the protagonist of some hacker attacks (real and alleged).

This is the striking case of the green pass in the name of Adolf Hitler , an event that generated as much hilarity on the web as much fear among the institutions. The certificate verification application has validated a QR Code which turned out to belong to the German dictator ; a fake, of course, but he managed to pass the checks. The fear was that a key theft had occurred, effectively exposing a huge flaw in the code generation system. In the end it wasn't a leak, even though all the certificates and keys were regenerated; the problem of insiders and those who sell keys on the dark web, however, remained.

But 2021 was also the year of conspiracies, spreading more than the virus and becoming more and more imaginative. The latest, a few days ago, would boast the approval of a microchip under the skin by governments around the world to always carry the green pass with you. It is actually the proposal of a Swedish startup, an idea (or provocation?) That has remained such and has not even been discussed by any government. As usual, however, the conspiracy theorists have jumped the ball to distort reality.

IT and ransomware: all the highlights

Unfortunately, among the IT highlighs for 2021 there are also the cyber attacks and inefficiencies that have hit Italy and the whole world. Many hackers have taken advantage of the confusion of the pandemic to launch more or less destructive attacks , making the past year one of the worst for cybersecurity.

We all remember the attack on the Lazio region last August , hitting the heart of the region and causing unprecedented damage. Defined as "terrorist", the attack brought the region's vaccination registry systems to their knees precisely in the peak period of vaccinations, delaying the issuance of the green pass. The downtime of the systems, hit by ransomware, lasted a whole month. All the data was then recovered thanks to the backups, but the damage was huge.

Ransomware among the IT highlights of 2021.
Ransomware among the IT highlights of 2021.

20 21, like 2020, was the year of ransomware : this type of attack, already prevalent in the previous year , remained the protagonist of the year now at the end, reconfirming itself as the most effective among cyber attacks. Combined with phishing , another highly exploited type , especially if linked to Covid-19, ransomware has caused a lot of inconvenience throughout 2021.

An example is REvil, the malware that mainly hit Holland but that has spread terror all over the world; or even the one that hit Mediaworld last November . The spread of this type of attacks in recent years has repeatedly led to questioning the importance given to cyber security, but also the causes of these attacks. Experts agree on this: the weak link is always the man.

The highlights of information technology: the year of robotics

2021 was not a completely bad year, on the contrary; robotics has made enormous progress, becoming the star of the year at the end . Atlas from Boston Dynamics has returned to amaze us , achieving incredible results and completing a complex obstacle course. Seeing the robot effortlessly juggle parkour was certainly one of the best moments of 2021.

In conclusion, among the IT highlights of the year, there were two Italian excellence in robotics: Cogitor, the first liquid robot in history , is a project born at the Italian Institute of Technology and funded by the European Union. With its liquid heart, Cogitor started the branch of liquid robotics, made up of "intelligent fluids" capable of adapting and reconfiguring themselves in any situation. Then there is iRonCub, the IIT flying humanoid robot that has attracted the attention of the whole world for its ability to reach inaccessible areas and give significant help to rescue.

Speaking of robots closer to humans, an automaton with timing was created at Sant'Anna in Pisa, that is , able to understand by itself the best time to interact with humans. An incredible breakthrough in collaborative robotics. Finally, the arrival of Ameca, a robot with incredible facial expressions , has been news of the last few days . Accurate enough to scare even its creators, Ameca is able to perfectly reproduce various facial expressions, making itself incredibly human.

Windows 11

One of the most talked about topics last year was the release of Microsoft's new operating system. Windows 11 started making headlines even before its official announcement , which took place at the end of June. Between leaks and rumors, the successor of Windows 10 has finally arrived on the market, first in a beta version and then, for everyone, on October 5th .

While users switching to the new operating system are on the rise, Microstoft is already thinking about the next update dubbed “Sun Valley 2”. There are still no details on the content of the update, which will arrive no earlier than next summer.

The Log4j bug

One of the most dangerous vulnerabilities of recent times deserves a separate section:the bug of the Log4j library , the Java debugging library, has rocked the whole world. By earning a risk of 10, the maximum on the scale, the flaw allows remote code execution. The library is extremely widespread, and the flaw has forced the whole world to update the library pending patches.

2021 was a year full of events, more or less positive. Technology and information technology have never stood aside, succeeding where many have failed, continuing to advance and reinvent themselves. Now that a new year is about to begin, we hope to overcome even more limits and achieve more and more goals, thrilling us for the new victories of progress.

The Top TechCuE article : 2021 highlights from the IT world comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .