The History of the Largest Hacker Attacks
Simultaneously with the colossal growth of the Internet, there is an unprecedented danger of disclosure of personal data, critical corporate resources, state secrets, etc. Every day, hackers threaten these resources by trying to gain access to them through special attacks. Such attacks are gradually becoming, on the one hand, more sophisticated, and on the other hand – easy to perform. This is facilitated by two main factors:
Firstly, it is the widespread penetration of the Internet. Today, millions of devices are connected to the network, and many millions of devices will be connected to the Internet in the near future. Therefore, the probability of hackers accessing vulnerable devices is constantly increasing. In addition, the proliferation of the Internet allows hackers to share information globally. A simple search for keywords such as “hacker”, “hacking”, “hack”, “crack” or “phreak” will give everyone thousands of sites. Many of them contain malicious codes and ways of their application;
Secondly, it is the most widespread of easy-to-use operating systems and development environments. This factor dramatically reduces the level of knowledge and skills needed by a hacker. Previously, a hacker had to have good programming skills to create and distribute easy-to-use applications. Now, it is just necessary to know the IP address of the desired site.
However, practice shows that hacker attacks allow technology to evolve and create new security programs. This was the case, for example, with VPN. The history of the development of this technology began at the turn of the sixties in the United States when there was a demand for more sophisticated security systems. Antivirus programs and related software proved to be ineffective and couldn’t keep up with the abundance of dangerous software and other viruses. Therefore, the VPN protection has fully proved itself. The technology retains its effectiveness and, therefore, is very popular today. The list of servers offered is quite wide. Everyone can connect to a secure VPN server and protect themselves on the Internet. The main thing is to carefully study the free VPN server list and choose the best one.
What Is the Biggest Hacker Attack in History: 5 Notable Cases
If you want to know more about the biggest cyber-attacks in history, consider the below cases, which are known all over the world.
Hacking NASA and the US Department of Defense (1999)
Jonathan James, a 15-year-old teenager from Miami, has been fascinated with space and technology since early childhood. He perfectly mastered the C programming language and the Unix operating system. For fun, the boy looked for vulnerabilities in the resources of NASA and the US Department of Defense and, as a result, found them. He managed to intercept official correspondence by installing spyware on the server of one of the departments. This opened up free access to passwords and personal information of employees of various departments.
In addition, the teenager stole the code used by NASA to maintain the life support system on the ISS. As a result, the project was delayed by three weeks. The value of the stolen software was approximately $1.7 million. In 2000, Jonathan was sentenced to half a year of house arrest.
Malicious spyware Tapaoux was distributed in 2007-2014 in several premium hotels. Distribution was carried out using open Wi-Fi networks. Such networks are very poorly protected, which made it easy for hackers to install their software on hotel servers.
It was proposed to install an official update of some programs (for example, Google Toolbar) on Wi-Fi-connected computers. In this way, the virus was usually masked. After hitting the device, the virus program offered to enter personal data, such as a card number. It also could read keystrokes when typing. As a result, the attackers gained access to the users` logins and passwords, as well as to their personal accounts.
Most of the hacks took place in Korea, Russia, China, and Japan. The targets of DarkHotel were top managers of large companies, officials, high-ranking politicians, and successful entrepreneurs. Who was behind cybercrime is still unknown.
Yahoo Data Leak (2013-2014)
The attackers hacked into Yahoo users’ accounts and stole their personal information, including phone numbers and email addresses. The hacker attack took place in two stages – in 2013 and 2014. But this became known only in 2016. The cyberattack was blamed on two hackers from Russia and Canada. However, only the Canadian pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison.
As a result of the hacker attack, 3000 profiles were damaged. Yahoo’s market value fell by $350 million. That’s how much the company lost as a result of the takeover by Verizon.
In October 2016, a cyberattack called Mirai became widespread. Over several years, hundreds of thousands of network-connected routers, set-top boxes, surveillance cameras, and other equipment were infected with viruses. Devices on which the factory passwords were not changed were selected. This led to the fact that many online services including Netflix, PayPal, Twitter, Spotify, etc. stopped working correctly.
As a result, the hacker groups RedCult and New World Hackers took responsibility for the attack. The total damage from the downtime was approximately $110 million. It was managed to fix the problem by restarting individual components and redistributing traffic.
One of the nastiest types of malware is data encryptors. They quickly infect a computer and encode files on it, changing their type and making them unreadable. After that, such viruses illustrate a banner on the desktop of the device with demands to pay a ransom to unlock the device.
So, in 2017, wcry files became widespread on the Internet. Hence the name – WannaCry. The virus used a Windows vulnerability on devices with a non-updated operating system. The infected devices themselves contributed to the spread of the virus on the global Internet.
This attack was rated as the biggest hack ever. According to estimates, it caused four million dollars’ worth of damage. Specific culprits have not been found. However, the hacker group Lazarus Group is on the list of first suspects.
Famous Hacking Cases of 2020-2021
In 2020-2021, phishing attacks, data breaches, and ransomware incidents have increased significantly. This is largely due to the massive transition to remote work and digital communication with friends and relatives in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mass Hacking of Nintendo and Twitter Accounts
One of the most resonant events of the past years was the massive hacking of celebrity accounts on the social network Twitter. Attackers compromised the accounts of leading politicians, businessmen, and celebrities, and on their behalf published messages about the free distribution of cryptocurrency. Interestingly, the perpetrators of the attack were three teenagers who took possession of the admin password of a Twitter employee who worked from home.
The gaming industry has also not been left without the attention of cybercriminals. In April, many Nintendo users faced account hacking. In some cases, the hackers bought Nintendo games at someone else’s expense but mostly acquired the game’s Fortnite currency.
Extortion Attacks on the University Clinic in Düsseldorf
2020-2021 were marked by a huge number of ransomware attacks, in which attackers encrypted the computers of various organizations and demanded a ransom for data recovery. An unprecedented case was an extortion attack on a university clinic in Düsseldorf. It disrupted the usual work of doctors, which led to the death of a patient.
Also among the most significant incidents involving ransomware, it is worth mentioning the attacks on the American company Garmin. It is a manufacturer of digital devices for navigation, outdoor activities, and sports, as well as one of the largest software companies in the world – Software AG. In the case of Garmin, the WastedLocker attack led to a four-day outage of the company’s services and the inability of millions of people to access GPS services (including pilots planning flights). Software AG suffered a Clop ransomware attack. The hackers demanded a $20 million ransom from the company. This is one of the largest ransoms in the history of ransomware attacks.
Zoom User Credentials Leaked
Due to the pandemic, many organizations have moved to work remotely, fueling the rise of conferencing apps like Zoom, which has not gone unnoticed by cybercriminals. Thus, thousands of recordings of Zoom video conversations appeared on YouTube and Vimeo. These include recordings of psychotherapy sessions, school sessions with students, consultations with doctors, and corporate meetings. The hacker forum then posted 2,300 compromised user accounts for free.
Data leaks are still one of the most common problems. The 2021 year was marked by several large-scale incidents, including leaks of data of 5.2 million customers of the Marriott hotel chain, 900 thousand customers of Virgin Media, 4 million users of the Quidd marketplace. It also resulted in the publication of a database with data of 40 million users of the popular Wishbone mobile application, the publication of databases, containing 235 million Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube user profiles, etc.
As we can see, the protection of personal data from hacker attacks is an urgent problem today. Fortunately, modern technologies, such as VPNs, allow surfing the Internet safely and transferring important information over the network.
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