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These days we are online for everything whether it’s your laptop, desktop computer, or cell phone we put a lot of personal information online. And we mostly assume that this information will be safe. However, the following examples of hacking attacks show that increasingly often that’s just not true. Here are the top 10 examples of hacking in history.
#10 Ashley Madison Hack
The Ashley Madison Hack is perhaps the most embarrassing example of hacking attack. In 2015 the company Ashley Madison discovered that it’s private servers had been accessed by a hacking group known as The Impact Team.
This group then threatened to release all of the information that they had to the public if Ashley Madison did not shut down the company. The reason for this was that Ashley Madison specialized in allowing married people to have affairs discreetly.
Ashley Madison refused to shut down and so 25 gigabytes of user data was released. And this exposed Ashley Madison’s users publicly.
It was also revealed that only 12,000 of the 5.5 million registered users were female and most of those were created from a fake IP address.
I guess not all cyber attacks are bad..
#9 MafiaBoy Hacking Attack
MafiaBoy was the alternate ego of Michael Calce who, in 2000, caused substantial damage to a series of high profile websites including Amazon, Ebay, and Yahoo.
He did this through a series of distributed denial of service attacks. Also known as DDoS, this type of attack is a common tactic involving overwhelming websites with queries to the point that they no longer function.
MafiaBoy used this approach and made its targets useless for hours. This resulted in millions of dollars worth of lost revenue.
Naming the attack Project Rivolta, Calce was revealed to be a high school student at the time. He was obsessed with making a name for himself as a hacker. And he got that popularity and I am sure he going to be just as popular when he’s bending over in jail.
Well.. he didn’t actually go to jail. After being sentenced to one year probation Calce published a book about his experiences.
And they say crime doesn’t pay.. (;
#8 Soviet Pipeline Explosion
The 1982 Soviet Pipeline incident involved a computer attack which was directly responsible for a massive explosion.
During the Cold War the Soviet’s attempted to steal computer software used to oversee pump valves in gas pipes. Knowing this the C.I.A placed a Trojan virus inside their software. When the Soviet’s attempted to use the software to operate a massive gas pipeline in Siberia the Trojan horse took control of the valves and closed them. This created massive amounts of pressure the result being the largest non-nuclear explosion ever seen from space.
Unbelievably and thankfully there were no casualties but the C.I.A achieved their dream of disrupting the Soviet gas industry which had massive economic implication for them.
#7 The Sony Hack
Also known as the Sony Picture hack this 2014 cyber attack allegedly from North Korea made international headlines. At the time Sony pictures was pushing forward with the film about the North Korean regime called The Interview.
Painting the North Korean chain of command in a poor light to say the least, North Korea threatened that there would be dire consequences if the film was ever released. Oh and consequences there were.
Hackers were able to download private emails from Sony servers along with copies of unreleased films and personal details of Sony employees and their families.
Some of the information released was extremely damaging for Sony including private insults made at the expense of some of it’s stars. In one email a Sony producer referred to Angelina Jolie as “a minimally talented spoiled brat”.
#6 Yahoo Theft Attack
Some cyber attacks are so affective that the victims don’t even know it’s happening until years later. Well that was the case with Yahoo.
The one time most popular search engine in the world has seen a number of instances where user data has been stolen by hackers.
In 2014 an estimated 500 million accounts were hacked. This gave hackers access to usernames, passwords, as well as other sensitive material which could be used to commit identity fraud. But unbelievably it took Yahoo four years to discover that an even bigger hack had taken place during 2013.
When they finally discovered the theft they estimated that as many as 1 billion user accounts had been compromised. These historic hacks were so large that even the US Senate decided to investigate them.
And to this day nobody knows who was responsible for them or if they will strike again. Maybe it’s because it’s Yahoo and if any of you are still using Yahoo *cough* you kind of deserve it, what’s wrong with you?
#5 Shamoon Virus Attack
Security experts warned that energy suppliers could be targeted by hackers. Such an attack could render a country immobile. Imagine no electricity but this isn’t a purely hypothetical situation.
Hackers have already targeted energy suppliers in the past. For example the Shamoon virus was developed in 2012 and was released by a group of hackers known as “Cutting Swords of Justice”.
The virus was used to undermine the energy Saudi Americo. When the virus was unleashed it infected more than 30,000 computers at the company shutting down their entire network. Then to make things worse the virus spread to other energy companies.
But the most interesting thing is that if such an attack happened today it’s still unclear how quickly a power grid would even recover.
“Too many kids growing up with these dang computers, no more Minecraft for you!“
#4 Titan Rain Hacking Attack
It was during the early 2000’s that cyber attacks began to ramp up, with Titan Rain being one of the most notorious.
This virus targeted American computer networks and affected a number of US government contractors such as Redstone Arsenal and Lockheed Martin. Not exactly small names and it even spread to NASA.
Titan Rain’s main objective was to gather intel from these organizations. And that sounds dangerous to me because I don’t know what kind of space secret is NASA holding.. maybe there’s aliens? Joking. 😉
The virus sought out and transmitted sensitive data to an unknown source. This most likely included highly classified technology that was still under development.
The UK also found itself under attack from Titan Rain and firmly pointed the finger at China as a source. This created a serious international incident as the British Ministry of Defense struggled to hold onto it’s classified files. Where’s James Bond when you need him?
#3 Operation Shady RAT
This one might win the award for best name tag. In 2008 a startling claim was made by a group of hackers that no website was safe. This might seem like common knowledge today but back then many government and consumer websites spread the idea that emerging online systems were unhackable.
A group of hardcore hackers from China put this claim to the test. The hackers numbered more than 10,000 and claimed to have hacked every website imaginable even the Pentagon.
They also alleged that they were occasionally hired by the Chinese government to carry out such cyber attacks. After claiming they had been able to access some of the most top secret documents in the United States the Pentagon then conceded that it’s systems had been bypassed a number of times.
The myth of the unhackable website was dispelled and people started fearing nerds everywhere. The meek shall inherit the earth!
#2 Kuji and Datastream Cowboy
In 1994 two hackers going by the names of Kuji and Datastream Cowboy, managed to infiltrate so amny US military systems that they could have potentially started a nuclear war.
By out thinking the Pentagon’s security protocols both men gained access to battlefield simulation which laid bare US strategies.
They also intercepted sensitive information sent by undercover agents in North Korea. And possibly most worryingly the hackers gained access to a research facility in South Korea which held information about atomic research. Of the two men Kuji was the most dangerous and according to special agent Jim Christy he nearly started a third world war.
Oh and by the way this was all achieved with a Commodore Amiga (picture below).
Got to look out for these retro gamers. 😉
#1 Wannacry Ransomware Attack
To end our top 10 examples of hacking list perhaps the number one and the most devastating and far reaching hack seen so far is the Wannacry attack. It used ransomware which shut down computer systems completely.
The hackers then offered to unlock these systems for a price. The crazy thing was that this blackmail was on a global scale.
Wannacry effected an unprecedented 230,000 computers around the world across 150 different countries. Hackers demanded 600 dollars worth of crypto-currency for each computer which was blocked.
But in a bizarre twist of gate many believe that Wannacry was based on a US government program called Eternalblue. Which had been leaked publicly not long before.
But the most damaging aspect of this attack was that it shut down 70,000 computers at the British National Health Service and resulted in some patients having to postpone treatment.