We have discussed the power hackers possess and what kind of impact they can have on the world, in our previous article. As technology advanced over the years, so did hackers and with each technological step we took forward, there were hackers who had a better understanding of certain systems and abused that knowledge.
The notion of hackers causing mayhem isn’t new to most of us, as the news and media was full of them during our most recent years and for good reasons. Some hackers have caused some pretty serious threats with vandalizing nuclear programs and stealing or destroying user accounts by the millions.
Today, we are going to tell you about some of the biggest hacks that have happened in recent times. Each of these shows off in practice, the stunning power that these people have at their fingertips and that they are willing to use it. Their exact intentions might vary as some want to promote freedom and others just enjoy some good old cyber vandalism. But the fact is clear that their actions have caused millions of dollars’ worth of damages.
Large scale hacks can cause a lot of damage and emotional hurt. All the people working in a certain company, industry, organization or facility might be affected by them and they can lose more than just some information on their screen. These hacks come with serious consequences which the victimized individuals pay for. Some hackers might have positive motivations behind their reckless behavior but some are just in it for the joy of wrecking the world.
So let’s see what the busiest hackers have been up to in recent years!
The Suxnet Worm Blocking Irans Nuclear Program in 2010
Stuxnet was a worm program, less than a megabyte in size. It was implemented into Iran’s nuclear refinement plants, where it secretly took over its Siemens SCADA control systems. Out of the 8800 uranium centrifuges, 5000 was commanded by this silent worm, which made them spin out of control, stop all of a sudden and resume. It also reported that everything was working according to plan, making it almost impossible for the scientists to point out problem.
The chaos caused by this manipulation has gone on for 17 months and secretly ruined thousands of uranium samples. The staff also doubted their own work as they didn’t have the slightest idea that they are being deceived and vandalized. This sneaky attack caused a lot more harm than simply destroying the refining centrifuges. It also wasted thousands of work hours; millions of dollars invested in uranium resources and led thousands of scientists down the wrong path for a year and a half.
They named the worm ’Stuxnet’ when they uncovered the worm and found the keyword inside the code’s comments.
The Ashley Madison Hack: 37 Million Hacked Users
Ashley Madison is a Canada based dating website for people who are in a marriage but wish to continue dating. In 2015, a hacker group called Impact Team copied the personal data and profiles of 37 million users by breaking into the Avid Fife Media servers. The group named itself Impact Team for obvious reasons, as it had a shameful impact on millions of individual’s personal reputations. It had an unspeakably huge and there were even claims of suicides after the hack took place.
The hack isn’t among the top because of the massive publicity its impact received, but because the hacker group also earned great fame as vigilantes who fought against lies and infidelity. The sheer explosion of drama they caused all over the world was both terrifying and truthful.
The Home Depot Hack
By tinkering the Microsoft operating system and exploiting that Microsoft couldn’t react and patch its servers fast enough, a group of hackers performed the largest credit card breach in our history.
They exploited one of the vendor’s passwords and once they got into the Home Depot store not far from Miami, they hacked their way through the continent. By observing more than 7,000 transactions that took place in Home Depot’s self-serve checkout registers, they were able to steal credit card numbers and the users’ credit card information.
This Hack got so much fame because it was done against a massive corporation and its 50 million trusting costumers.
The Conficker Worm That Still Infects Millions of Computers Every Year
The Conficker worm or the „Downandup worm” is a true hacking organism that has a life of its own, infecting millions of computers. It is a malware program that replicates itself across networks and computers, converting computers into spamming zombie bots or they read any typed information. They use keylogging to record passwords and credit card numbers.
This worm is an incredibly smart program, as it leaves back doors to hackers to later take over your PC and it even turns off any antivirus software in order to protect itself. The Conficker simply refuses to die; it is resilient and continues to travel the Internet even after being discovered for more than 8 years.
The Biggest DDOS Attack Ever
A DDOS attack is short for Distributed Denial of Service attack that is a data flood. It is a well-known way for hackers to attack websites. This was biggest data flood that the Internet has ever seen. It was big enough to slow down the Internet all across the Earth and even shutting down parts of it for a few hours’ time.
The attack took place in the March of 2013 and the group used hijacked hundreds machines that constantly repeated signals at a very high rate. They also used hundreds of DNS servers as well, in order to ’reflect’ those signals and amplify the effect even further. This flood added up to the scale of 300 gigabits per second, overloading more computer systems all over the Internet than we could count.
The primary target of the attack was a nonprofit organization named Spamhaus. It was a professional organization that provided protection service and tracked, blacklisted spammers and hackers in order to protect the users of the Internet.
A DDOS attack of such magnitude, aimed at an organization that hunts hackers, might be a way for hackers to send a message, to show who has the upper hand. It is a historic hacking event for it’s never before seen brute force and sheer magnitude.
This massive attack flooded many Internet exchange servers and all of Spamhaus’s servers.
The eBay Hack
Due to eBay’s large popularity, a lot of people would argue that it was one of the biggest and worst betrayals of public trust that online retail has ever seen. But it wasn’t as financially devastating as the above mentioned hacks were, because no financial information was touched. Only personal the users password protected personal data was reached.
It was an unpleasant incident that caused millions of users loses their trust in eBay as they demonstrated weak security. The attack was very public and eBay just gave a lackluster response.
The Melissa Virus
It has infected 20% of all the computers on the world in 1999.
It was a Microsoft macro virus that a guy from New Jersey released. The Melissa virus traveled the Internet in emails as an attached world file. The emails note was ’Important Message from [Someone you know]’. When the unsuspecting user clicked on the attachment, he also activated the virus which gave a command to Microsoft Office on the user’s PC. The command was to send a copy of the virus in a mass mail out to the first 50 contacts in the user’s address list.
The virus didn’t damage any files or steal any information, its objective was to flood email servers and it succeeded at that.
Melissa managed to shut down some companies for a few days as technicians had to clean up their systems and get rid of this pesky virus. The Virus exposed and thrived on people’s gullibility and demonstrated that some companies had a humorously weak antivirus protection on their networks. It also gave some bad publicity to Microsoft Office, as it has shown it as a vulnerable system.
The Sony PlayStation Network Hack
About 77 million users got their PlayStation Network accounts hacked in 2011.
A group called Lulzsec hacker collective has infiltrated Sony’s database. They have thus revealed the contact information, passwords and logins of 77 million PlayStation Network users. Although Sony claims that no credit card information has been stolen and there were no incidents reported, it was a strong hit for Sony.
They had to shut down their entire PlayStation Network in order to patch up the security holes that led to the hack. Experts suspect that the attack was an SQL injection hack.
Lulzec’s hack was memorable because it affected millions of gamers worldwide and caused a lot of ripples in the gamer community.
The JPMorgan Chase Bank Hacked
More than 80 million user accounts got revealed to hackers in 2014.
A Russian hacker group has hit one of the largest banks in the USA. They managed to breach 76 million personal accounts and 7 million small business accounts. They infiltrated all 90 of JPMorgan Chase’s server computers and were able to view all the personal information of the account holders.
What’s really interesting that no money was stolen from the account holders’ accounts. After the incident, JPMorgan wasn’t volunteering to share every detail of the internal investigation they conducted. They only said that the hackers stole basic information, such as names, phone numbers email addresses and home addresses. They didn’t find any evidence of the hackers getting a hold of passwords, account number or social security.
This hack was one of the largest scale attacks aimed at a bank and peoples livelihoods.
The Anthem Health Care hack
In 2015, the second-biggest health insurance companies in the USA had 78 million of its users accounts breached. Their databases were compromised by a covert attack that lasted for weeks. The company didn’t reveal any details about the attack but they claim that none of the user’s medical information got stolen. Only contact information and social security numbers were revealed.
There hasn’t been any kind of harm reported by any of the compromised users, but some experts predict that their information might be sold on the online black market.
Another massive corporation got hit by some no doubt well intentioned and serious hackers. There was touch of sarcasm there.
This concludes some of the most large scale computer hacks that we took note of. The story of large scale hacks doesn’t end there as there are many other that wouldn’t have fit into this list and there will probably be more as hackers continue live on and hack the world!