10 Biggest Computer Hacks In History


Forget WMDs – the 21st century’s most powerful
weapon is the computer. With skill and imagination, a lone ranger can bring down corporations,
spy agencies, or even nations, just at the press of a button. With new and more daring
cybercrimes committed every year – here are the ten greatest hacks in history. 10. J. P. Morgan Chase In 2014, AMERICA’S BIGGEST BANK, J. P. Morgan
Chase, was hacked. The hackers got hold of the “root” privileges on more than 90
of the bank’s servers, allowing them to transfer funds and close the accounts of 7
million small businesses and 76 million individuals – over half of U.S. households. But the government was on their tails. Gery
Shalon, Ziv Orenstein (both Israelis), Joshua Samuel, and another unnamed hacker were indicted. J.P. Morgan said no money was stolen and there
was “no evidence that account information for […] affected customers – account numbers,
passwords, user IDs, dates of birth or Social Security numbers – was compromised during
this attack.” All the same, the four hackers managed to net themselves $100 million. 9. The Stuxnet Worm Stuxnet is the most sophisticated malware
in history. In 2010, Iran announced that Stuxnet had disrupted and deceived Iran’s nuclear
facility at Natanz for 17 months. It forced the centrifuges to malfunction, triggering
nuclear accidents, but fed the monitoring equipment false data so that Iranian scientists
could not figure out what was going wrong. Experts believe the code would have taken
years to write – it was probably written by a team of up to thirty people. The complexity
of the code means Stuxnet was created by a nation state. Although it was likely implemented
by Israel, Stuxnet was probably written for them by a powerful ally… 8. Sony Playstation Network Hacker group LulzSec made 2011 a very difficult
year for Sony. They stole the home addresses, purchase history, email addresses, usernames
and passwords of 77 million users on the Playstation Network. Sony said no credit card information
was stolen, though 12 million users had unencrypted credit card numbers on PSN at the time. The
playstation website was down for a month and Sony lost $171 million. It also paid out a
$15 million settlement in a class action lawsuit. Sony suffered another big hack in 2014 when
it toyed with North Korea by releasing the comedy The Interview. The hackers leaked sensitive
emails from the very top level of Sony Pictures studio, then erased Sony’s computer infrastructure. 7. Equifax Equifax is one of the Big Three credit agencies
in the USA, safeguarding the personal data of nearly one billion people. In 2017, it
took Equifax five weeks to notice they had been hacked. Up to 200 million people’s
data  in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. was stolen, including their social security numbers,
names, addresses, birth dates and drivers licenses. 209,000 unlucky individuals had
their credit card credentials taken, too. Equifax responded so incompetently that even
their website was giving visitors malware. Then they misdirected their customers to a
fake help site. The company may soon be the subject of the biggest class-action lawsuit
in history, being sued for $70 billion in damages. 6. Target In 2013, Target made 110 million of its customers
feel very special when their personal and financial information was exposed by a hack.
The security breach cost the company $162 million and CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigned. A year later, a similar hack hit Home Depot
and eBay. 50 million credit card numbers were stolen from Home Depot, and it paid at least
$179 million in settlements to consumers and credit card companies. eBay, on the other
hand, gave up the personal data of 145 million users. Luckily, the Syrian hackers claimed
they would not misuse the data. 5.  WannaCry 2017 saw yet another North Korean hack attack.
WannaCry is ransomware that targeted Microsoft Windows operating systems all over the world.
Around 300,000 computers in 150 countries were affected, encrypting files unless users
paid up to $600. Most notably, WannaCry shut down Britain’s health service until someone
discovered a kill switch for the virus. Thanks to this, it raised only $130,000 for the attackers. Disturbingly, WannaCry exploited a vulnerability
called EternalBlue, which was developed by the NSA so they could spy on users. The weakness
was revealed by the Shadow Brokers hacker group just a month before the WannaCry attack.
That was some fast work by North Korea. 4. Melissa Virus Microsoft has had trouble before, of course.
In 1999 the Melissa virus forced Microsoft to cut off incoming e-mail on its operating
system. The virus was harmless on its own, but spread incredibly fast and overloaded
systems, causing some companies to shut down. It was distributed as an e-mail attachment
that, when opened, resent itself to the first 50 contacts in the user’s address book.
It is estimated to have infected 20% of the world’s computers. It took the FBI, state police and a Swedish
scientist to find the man behind Melissa: David L. Smith. He served 20 months in prison
and paid a $5,000 fine for causing $80 million worth of damages. 3. TJX Companies Inc. You’ve probably shopped in TJ Maxx or HomeGoods,
and their parent, TJX Companies Incorporated, probably has your card details. Well, in 2006,
94 million shoppers had their credit cards exposed by a dozen hackers led by Albert Gonzalez.
He was working for the U.S. Secret Service at the time, on a $75,000 salary. Two years later, Gonzalez and two Russian
accomplices used spyware to steal 134 million more credit card details from Heartland Payment
Systems. His hack went undetected for almost a year. Heartlands paid out $145 million in
compensation for fraud. In 2010, Albert Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. 2. Adult FriendFinder In 2015, the adultery website Ashley Madison
had 37 million users’ personal data stolen. A year later, the world’s self-proclaimed
largest sex and swinger community suffered a cyberattack on another scale. More than
412 million Adult FriendFinder accounts were breached, including 15 million that were supposedly
deleted. Two decades’ worth of data on six databases was taken, including names, emails
and passwords. By the time the hack was detected, 99% of Adult FriendFinders’ passwords had
been cracked, largely because they were still using an obsolete cryptograph. 1. Yahoo! The Adult FriendFinder hack was huge, but
the 2013 attack on Yahoo was colossal. Easily the biggest hack in history, a mighty 3 billion
Yahoo users were affected by the cyberattack. Names, birth dates, phone numbers, passwords,
backup emails and security questions were all stolen. The hackers were selling complete
copies of the stolen database for $300,000 each. Yet Yahoo’s bosses kept the attack secret
for over three years, and didn’t improve its security. At the time Yahoo was in the
middle of being bought by Verizon. Unsurprisingly, news of the hack knocked $350 million off
Yahoo’s asking price. Verizon still paid $4.48 billion for the tainted goods. The FBI traced two of the attackers to Russia’s
Federal Security Service. Yahoo’s response to the attack is under investigation, and
dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the company.

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