7 Biggest Cyberattacks in History That Shook the World

Shot from the Back to Hooded Hacker Breaking into Corporate Data Servers from His Underground Hideout. Place Has Dark Atmosphere, Multiple Displays, Cables Everywhere.

Cybercrime has been shaking the world since the introduction of technology. Government bodies, businesses, and individuals are all affected by this menace. Despite efforts by the government and various organizations to cab it, it continues to be the order of the day in many companies and society.

Cybercriminals always target finances or classified information from various companies. They’ve always succeeded in putting their targets under very big financial losses and information privacy crises.

Here are seven of the biggest cyberattacks in history that every individual and business should be aware of. You can use them as a good lesson for your own cyber safety.

1. Google China Is One of the Biggest Cyberattacks in History

Despite all the security measures put in place by the biggest internet browser, Google has had its share despite all the security measures put in place by the biggest internet browser, Google has had its share of cyberattacks. In 2009, hackers got access to Google servers in a series of attacks known as Operation Aurora. The intention was to get access to Google’s intellectual property.

The attack did not only target Google, but 30 other companies were affected. The biggest target was the Chinese human rights activist’s e-mails. Google found that the attackers accessed numerous emails belonging to advocates of human rights in China without their permission.

While many people would blame notorious criminals for this, only a very important person would want to access data from activists. Reports coming from outside China blamed the Chinese government for the attack.

Well, Google’s blog released in 2010 stated that the attack didn’t achieve its objective. They only managed to partly access two Gmail accounts. The attacks came via users that were using Internet Explorer. As a result, the French, German, and Australian governments advised their citizens to use alternative browsers.

Google started its operation in the Chinese government in 2006, and the attack only came three years later. The attack made the company reevaluate its business in China. In 2010, Google relocated its servers to Hong Kong in a move to escape Internet filtering policy by the Chinese government.

2. Blocked Phone Lines to Win a Car

Up to what extent can you go to win a competition? Well, this won’t be a big deal if you’re not a competition freak, but for Kevin Poulsen, the car competition was a must-win.

Kevin Poulsen went to the extent of hacking Los Angeles’ telephone services. He wanted to win a car in a radio competition in 1995. He managed to win the Porsche after blocking other callers from the radio station.

LA KIIS FM opened a competition in which the 102nd caller was to win a Porsche 944 S2. Everyone was waiting in line while others switched their phones to automatic dial. But this specific person had a much easier solution.

The 24-year old high school drop-out had devised a perfect plan that could give him a better chance to win. Together with his associates, Poulsen didn’t wait in the line like everybody. Instead, they sat by their computers hatching a perfect plan.

He took control of the phone network and blocked all incoming calls to the radio station. He was later discovered and had to spend up to five years in prison for the crime.

But this crime that dubbed him the notorious hacker in history would later change his luck. Something that was only meant to win him a car later got it a lucrative job at Wired News. Poulsen became the senior editor for an IT security publication and distanced himself from crime.

3. NASA and US Defense Department Hack

A 15-year-old Jonathan James managed to secure himself a place in the hall of fame. He pulled another one of the biggest cyberattacks in history. This cybercrime occurred in 1999 when the hacker was a teenager.

James managed to illegally penetrate the computers from the US Department of defense. He installed an illegal ‘backdoor’ on the servers.

The hacker intercepted more than three thousand internal e-mails coming from and to the government organization. Some of the e-mails included classified information. These were usernames and passwords for various military computers.

James executed his next action with the information he obtained from up to ten computers belonging to the government organization. He used the stolen information to steal software from NASA. The action cost the space exploration agency up to $41,000 after their systems shutdown for up to three weeks.

NASA later revealed that the stolen software served as the International Space Station’s source code. They used this software to support the physical environment, including humidity and temperature in space. It was a useful element for controlling vital life-sustaining elements and was worth a whopping $1.7 million.

James was indicted for this crime but received a light sentence since he was in his early teens. However, he was again accused of another cybercrime alongside a group of hackers that conspired to steal credit card information. He denied being part of this and committed suicide to avoid being convicted for a crime he allegedly didn’t commit.

4. Myspace Worm Attack

While Myspace is no longer the big powerhouse that it was years back, its name remains in the history of cyberattacks. In 2016, the social media site hit the headlines after more than 360 million user accounts were hacked. The crime happened at the time when Myspace was considered the biggest social network.

The perpetrator of this attack was a 19-year-old Samy Kamkar. Samy simply wrote a few lines in a bid to gain a few online friend requests. However, things got out of control when he gained over one million friend requests on Myspace in just a few days.

With the code, he managed to create a self-propagating worm that made Myspace shut down its website so that they could figure out what was going on. After a few hours, they managed to remove the worm, delete Samy’s profile, and brought the site back to its normal operation.

They found out that Samy had used a hacking technique called the Cross-Site Scripting attack, also known as XSS. This attack found Myspace completely unprepared with no reliable IT support; hence they didn’t know what to do at the time. The worm was also very uncommon; hence, it acted as an eye-opener for Myspace and the entire industry.

Six months after the attack, Samy received visitors from the Electronic Crime Task Force of the LAPD and the Secret Service. They searched his room and seized his computers and hard disks. He also received three years’ probation, which denied him computer and internet access.

5. The Church of Scientology Attacks

A group of hackers launched an attack on the Church of Scientology website. The 2008 attack was perpetrated because the attackers were against the religion. According to the attackers, the church was a cult and was allegedly causing harm to the members.

The group that launched the attack was dabbed ‘Anonymous’ and managed to cripple the target website for several days. The cyberattack managed to carry out e-mail spamming, phone, and fax hacking. They aimed to crash the website.

The anonymous attackers used a technique known as distributed denials of service (DDoS), which managed to bring down networks. They intended to flood the church’s network with too much traffic that it overwhelms their servers.

The DDoS attacked employed what is called ‘Google bombing,’ which made the site appear on Google’s top spot for searches such as ‘evil cult.’ This hacking act by the anonymous group was so loud that it made the global community pay attention and notice the church’s existence.

Some of the cyber attackers that targeted this church were later identified. One of them was the 19-year-old Dmitriy Guzner. The case attracted a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison with a $250,000 fine. Guzner was later sentenced to two years’ of probation and ordered to pay the Church of Scientology a fine of $37,500.

6. PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Attacks

In the first half of 2011, Sony acknowledged that some of the PlayStation Networks were down. At this point, they didn’t know that a simple action could result in one of the biggest cyberattacks ever. The attack that lasted two days crippled online services such as PlayStation for almost a month.

As a result of this cyberattack, the company recorded up to 77 million accounts that had been affected for more than 23 days.

Sony suffered a very big blow from this attack as it had to pay a quarter-million pounds fine to the British Information Commissioners Office for lacking requisite security measures. They also suffered a loss of over 140 million euros as a result of the breach.

As if this wasn’t enough, Sony once again got affected by another internet blow after their PlayStation Network suffered a massive outage. The attackers got into Sony Pictures Entertainment and released some confidential data. The perpetrators of this attack were a group named ‘Guardians of Peace’.

According to Guardians of Peace, they had gained access to this information over one year before making it public. They gained confidential information about the company’s employees. This also included their e-mails and financial data.

They also accessed scripts for unreleased shows and health information belonging to famous actors. Despite setting aside a $15 million fund to solve future cyber attacks, the company continued to suffer numerous data leaks. The US claimed North Korea was behind the hacking, although they denied it.

7. Solar Sunrise Is Another One of the Biggest Cyberattacks in History

The Solar Sunrise attack that occurred in 1998 gained control of over 500 government and private computer systems. At first, the attack was thought to be pulled by the Iraqi operatives. The attack was named ‘Solar Sunrise’ because the attackers exploited computers that were running on the ‘Sun Solaris’ operating system.

The DoD computer network attack happened because of the vulnerability of the operating system. The attackers used a simple attack profile. They probed to find out the existence of the vulnerability, exploited it, planted a sniffer program to gather data, and retrieved the collected data.

The profile pulled eleven attacks on Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps computers. They targeted defense networks and managed to retrieve lots of confidential information, including network passwords.

The cyberattack forced the US government to assemble defense divisions like the Defense Information System Agency and the FBI to dig into the matter. They found that Iraqi operatives did not take part in the hacking. It was two teenagers from California and one from Israel.

The Israelian, Ehud Tenebaum, who called himself ‘The Analyzer,’ was charged for a single count of bank-card fraud. The hacker participated in a sophisticated computer-hacking scheme that stole $10 million from the US banks. This single act of hacking showed the entire world how a coordinated effort could jeopardize the whole country’s IT infrastructure.

Cyberattacks Are Indeed a Global Menace

From the list of the biggest cyberattacks in history, it’s evident that no one is immune to these criminal activities. Businesses, religious organizations, and government bodies are all victims here. The attackers don’t care about the consequences but their own gain.

Whether you’ve been attacked before or not, you have to learn some important lessons from these disasters. The importance of a strong IT system as the world continues to gain a huge technological connection.

You shouldn’t take the protection of financial data and confidential information lightly. You don’t know the techniques these hackers will devise next. Contact a reliable IT support system to help implement the data security and see that both your business and customer data are safe.

Don’t forget to browse our site for more technical information that ensures the safety of your business.

Written by Casim Khalid

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