The cyber world is an ever-growing community that has mostly reduced the distance among us. Today, any one of us can reach out to anyone regardless of the distance and time. In fact, it has now become a new way of life. However, it is not without an adverse outcome. There is no denying fact that there are hackers out there who are using the internet for illegal and ambiguous schemes. This is done to target innocent individuals, banking institutions, big companies and even government, and military agencies. Staying current on the cybersecurity threats has now become a must for everyone - be it an entrepreneur or common people. Here we highlight 12 of the biggest cyber-attacks that have left the cyber world shaken and shocked!
This is one of the earliest reported cyber attacks. Morris was a student at Cornell University, USA. He claimed it to be his progeny to create the very first computer worm that transformed into a virus and circulated via the internet infecting several other computers, thus, resulting in service denial. Damage reports suggest that over 6000 computers suffered from the Morris virus infection causing damage worth $10 to 100 million dollars. Tappan Morris claimed that his intention was not to harm but only to verify the immensity of the cyberspace.
These attacks came as a serious threat to cyber security in the form of a sequence of synchronized attacks that were intended against financial websites, news agencies, and governments of South Korea and the United States. The attack involved a series of hijacked computers resulting in overloaded servers owing to the traffic flooding known as DDoS attack. The hijacked computers included 50000 computers from Symantec’s Security Technology Response Group, 166000 computers of security researchers from Vietnam and 20000 computers from South Korea National Intelligence Service.
The China headquarters of Google was found to be affected by a security violation that implicated the government of China. It was found that hackers had accessed the corporate servers of Google leading to stealing of intellectual property. Google stated that the attackers mainly wanted to gain access to the Gmail account of human rights activists of China. This attack caused Google to re-evaluate its business in China in 2009.
Discovered in the year 2012, Flame, computer malware is also popularly known as Flamer and Skywiper. The virus attacked computers running on Microsoft Windows in the Middle East. Hackers had intentions of espionage behind the cyber attack and Flame was known to infect over 10000 computers in various private, educational and government institutions.
Phishing attacks that use spam emails for distributing viruses are something that all of us know about. However, people were unaware of such a possibility back in the year 1999. Created by David L. Smith who was an American programmer, Melissa virus got circulated through a Word document that was attached to an email. Once the attachment was opened, the virus attacked the host computer and also forwarded the email to the first 50 contacts in the victim’s contact list. This malware hindered cyber security to such an extent that email providers opted for suspending their services until the virus was healed.
Michael Calce, nicknamed as Mafia Boy was a 15 - year - old guy who shocked and stirred the cyber world by unleashing a DDoS attack on various popular commercial websites such as Yahoo, CNN, eBay, and Amazon. Industry experts claimed that the attacks resulted in a damage bill worth 1.2 Billion U.S. dollars. As Calce was a juvenile in 2001, he was sentenced to 8 months of open custody. This meant his actions and movements were restricted along with this online access being limited by the court.
Cyber security in Canada came to a standstill when in February 2011. The Canadian government revealed that they suffered a series of cyber attacks by foreign hackers who had IP addresses of China. The hackers managed to penetrate 3 departments of the Canadian government gaining access to vital information. Canada had to disconnect internet access to those 3 departments with the intention to the stop transfer of data towards China.
In December 2010, Paypal became a cyber attack victim after permanently restricting WikiLeaks accounts that were used for raising funds. They cited a violation of their Policy as a reason. This leads to several boycotts of WikiLeaks from individual users and also moving in of the hackers.
A team of teenagers from New Jersey were found to be involved in a cyber attack that crippled the website of the Church of Scientology for many days. A 19 year old guy named Dmitry Guzner was found guilty and was convicted for this attack. He was sentenced to probation for 2 years and he paid a fine of $37500 to the Church of Scientology. Another man was also charged for this cyber security threat.
eBay suffered from huge losses owing to a cyber attack that exposed personal contact details along with encrypted passwords of all it 145 million users. According to company reports, hackers managed to access the company network by making use of the credentials of 3 of its employees. They had complete access for over 229 days and in this period they managed to access the database. When eBay got to know of this breach of cyber security it asked its users to change their passwords. The good thing was that the credit card information of the customers was stored separately and was thus safe. User activity of eBay declined to a great extent during this period.
One of the systematic virtual attacks was raged in the US and it is known to take control over 500 machines of several government and private institutions. Initially, it was thought that Iraqi operatives were behind the attack but much to everyone’s surprise it was the initiative of 3 teenagers residing in California. They managed to exploit computers running on the operating system known as Sun Solaris, hence the name Solar Sunrise. The matter was investigated by various defense divisions that included the FBI. The attack was so immense in nature that it managed to affect the IT infrastructure of the entire country.
In the year 2002, the internet was brought down on its knees by a big attack on the cyber space which targeted at all the 13 domain name root servers of the system in the United States. The DDoS attack lasted for only an hour; its scale was really alarming.
Described as one of the most complex and the largest attacks by the federal authorities of the US, in this attack internet servers got severely strained for that one hour. However, users did not have to experience adverse effects due to this.
Cyber warfare has always been a raging headline every now and then. Sometimes, it is due to the efforts of clandestine groups who do it just for fun while most of the time alleged secret agencies are behind these cyber attacks in an attempt to gain access to legal and personal data. There is no denying the fact that these instances transform the internet landscape into a virtual battlefield leading to losses worth millions of dollars. Hope this article of 12 of the most striking cyber attacks was interesting and informative enough for you to figure out the extent to which we can be vulnerable to these kinds of attacks. Even with the strictest restrictions, there are high chances of hacking by some notorious experts who use their knowledge for creating havoc in the cyber space. These acts should be abhorred and punished to the biggest extent.