Don’t worry. We haven’t been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army—at least not recently. In the second half of our end-of-year issue, however, we’re counting down the biggest hacks of the 2014, lending some perspective to what has been an unprecedented year in cybercrime. Your personal data has never been more fragile, and the situation shows no signs of improving in the near future.
Two honorable mentions nearly ruined the holidays: On Christmas Day, the hacker collective known as Lizard Squad took down both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network—you can read our exclusive interview with two alleged members here—and on Friday, a group claiming affiliation with Anonymous released a cache of 13,000 passwords and credit cards swiped from various corners of the Web, including sites you likely frequent on a regular basis.
In all seriousness, you should probably make it your New Year’s resolution to change all your passwords.
Elsewhere in this issue, we’re tackling Twitter fails, massive hoaxes, streaming webseries, and the on-demand economy—all things that make the Web exciting, frustrating, and endlessly entertaining to watch unfold.
Of course, no year-end recap would be complete without a best-of list. It hasn’t always been pretty behind the scenes at the Kernel, but we couldn’t be more proud of our first 20 issues. As we catch our breath to close the year, here are the 20 stories we recommend revisiting.
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The greatest story Reddit ever told by Kevin Morris
How the social news site changed the life of a convicted felon.
For diabetics, a long wait for a wearable solution by Allen Weiner
If the Apple Watch won’t help those with chronic illnesses, what will?
The fall of the FBI’s most-wanted cybercriminal by Kevin Collier
An inside look at the sting operation that brought down Jeremy Hammond.
Backstage with the real stars of DigiTour by Audra Schroeder
The sound of a thousand screaming teenage girls is an intense experience.
My first year with Glass by Taylor Hatmaker
I couldn’t wait to put Glass on. And now… well, now what?
How an Xbox hack became a weapon of war in Syria by Patrick Howell O’Neill
The strange saga of Blackshades RAT.
Is the Minerva Project the future of higher education? by Aaron Sankin
The most selective college in the world is online-only.
Fantasy football and the cold future of robot journalism by Allen Weiner
Should we really welcome our new robot overlords?
How fangirls changed the future of publishing by Aja Romano
With the runaway success of Fifty Shades of Grey, fanfiction has gone mainstream.
Meet the Internet’s DIY brain hackers by Marissa Fessenden
“I Zapped My Brain With tDCS and LIVED!”
The rise of the anti-facial recognition movement by Joseph Cox
Big brother is watching. Here’s how people are hiding.
Trapped between Yelp and a hard place by Leslie Anne Jones
Once a small business lands on Yelp, there’s no going back.
How to detoxify the Web by Leah Reich
To fix the Internet, we’ll need better spaces for men.
The darkest net by Patrick Howell O’Neill
The untold and scarring history of online child porn.
My first time with cybersex by EJ Dickson
Growing up in the AOL chatroom era, cybersex looked a lot different.
The once and future king of esports by Samuel Lingle
Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, the first star of esports, searches for his legacy.
The legacy of Rotten.com by Audra Schroeder
How the Internet’s original shock site warped a generation.
The hidden cost of the on-demand economy by Beejoli Shah
Apps like Postmates and TaskRabbit are making chores a thing of the past, but their convenience comes at a price.
The promises and pitfalls of modern adoption by Allen Weiner
The Internet provides all sorts of tools for prospective parents, but challenges remain.
The church of whatever: Finding God in the Internet age by Dylan Love
Religion and technology have been agents of change since words existed.
Illustration by J. Longo