Incidents of massive data breaches, advanced cyber attacks coming from China, groups like Syrian Electronic Army, Hacking Point of Sale machines at retailers such as Target have splashed across the news in the last one year.
Whether a Government Agency or Private Company, Small or a Large Tech Company....
...It’s no secret that No one is Immune to Cyber Attacks.
This article is from The Hacker News, listing the Top 7 Brutal Cyber Attacks.
#1 "Hacking Team" Data Breach
Hacking Team, the controversial spyware company, recently been hacked by some unidentified hackers that exposed over 400 gigabytes of its internal sensitive data on the Internet.
Milan (Italy) based IT firm ‘Hacking Team’ sells intrusion and surveillance software solutions to Governments and Law Enforcement agencies worldwide.
Hacking Team is infamous for its commercial surveillance tool named as Remote Control System (RCS), which is capable of spying activities and remotely accessing target system’s microphone and camera.
However, sometimes even Hackers get Hacked! So same happened with Hacking Team when hackers not only defaced Hacking Team’s own Twitter account but also leaked:
Source codes for Hacking and Spyware Tools
Zero-day exploits, including for Flash, Internet Explorer
Government client list with date of purchase and amount paid
…Marking the attack as one of the biggest cyber attacks on any Company.
One of the aspects of the data breach showed the lack of protection implementations within the organization and using weak passwords.
#2 Ashley Madison Data Breach
TIP: No website can guarantee privacy of your identity, Credit card details, personal photos or any other information. [Read more]
Two months ago, Toronto-based Ashley Madison website, popular as an online Married Dating portal for extramarital affairs with the tagline "Life is Short. Have an Affair," was hacked by ‘The Impact Team’.
Hackers allegedly gained access to millions of its customers information database and posted 10GB of personal data for its tens of Millions of customers, including their names and email addresses.
Frequently followed by another leak, where hackers released another 20GB of company's internal data, including personal e-mails from the CEO of Ashley Madison parent company Avid Life, Noel Biderman, along with the source code for its website and mobile apps.
The breach came just two months after an attack on another scandalous site, Adult Friend Finder where again millions of people’s very personal data were left exposed on the Internet.
The Ashley Madison and Adult Friend Finder hacking cases raise serious questions about what these dating websites are doing to ensure the security of their users' personal information.
#3 The Sony Pictures Hack
Remember last year when you were able to download and watch unreleased movies of Sony Pictures Entertainment?
Annie, Mr. Turner, Still Alice, To Write Love On Her Arms, and Brad Pitt's "Fury”...
...were leaked online on torrent websites, following a massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures last year by the Guardians of Peace (GOP) hacking group.
The hack wasn’t limited to unreleased movies — the unknown hackers leaked about 200 gigabytes of confidential data belonging to Sony Pictures from movie scripts to sensitive employees data, celebrity's' phone numbers and their travel aliases, making it the most severe hack in the History.
The massive cyber attack on the company was in response to the release of "The Interview" — a controversial North Korean-baiting film, where hackers threatened 9/11 Type attack at Theaters showing this movie.
As a result, Sony had to shut down its services for weeks. However, it struggled to solve the issue by pulling “The Interview” from theaters and eventually putting it up on Netflix.
But, things have not changed much for Sony. This was the second time Sony was targeted, and the intensity of the attack was such that even after taking the best measures, a subsequent amount of the company’s data was leaked to WikiLeaks.
#4 'Fappening' and 'Snappening'
When a surge of Nude Photos of Celebrities were leaked and went viral in August of 2014, the Internet had a meltdown.
Unknown Hacker was able to break into third-party applications connected to services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Apple’s iCloud that led to a major incident known as “The Fappening”.
The Fappening mainly attacked female celebrities and leaked very private photographs of them, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian, Kirsten Dunst, Avril Lavigne and many others.
Within a month of “The Fappening,” another similar incident called “The Snappening” happened that leaked more than 100,000 nude videos and images of the Snapchat users.
In The Fappening, the Naked Pictures were allegedly retrieved due to a “brute force” security flaw in Apple’s iCloud file storage service. However, Apple denied it.
In case of The Snappening, Snapchat’s servers were not breached. Instead, the nude pictures of users were compromised due to third-party apps used to send and receive Snaps.
However, both the incidents marked as the biggest hacks of one of its kind.
#5 Car Hacking
Driving a car is a network’s game now!
'Everything is hackable,' but is your car also vulnerable to Hackers?
General Motors’ OnStar application and cars like Jeep Cherokee, Cadillac Escalade, Toyota Prius, Dodge Viper, Audi A8 and many more come equipped with more advanced technology features.
These cars are now part of the technology very well known as the “Internet of Things”.
Recently two Security researchers, Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller demonstrated that Jeep Cherokee could be hacked wirelessly over the internet to hijack its steering, brakes, and transmission.
The OnStar application is an inbuilt unit attached to the interior, rearview mirror of the car with features such as remotely unlocking cars and starting the engines.
Similarly, Jeep manufactured Jeep Cherokee’s latest model is the fourth generation car fully equipped with the latest technology advancements.
In the recent incidents, Jeep Cherokee, as well as OnStar's application, were hacked leaving the cars as the slaves of the hackers and prone to accidents.
A security flaw in the car's entertainment system was compromised by two white hat hackers: Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek. The flaw allowed the hackers to inject malware into the system for remote control from miles away.
The hackers were able to turn up the music volume to the maximum and start the windshield wipers remotely while they were ‘10 miles away’.
An outrageous act they did was cutting off the transmission and disconnected the brakes that led the car crash into a ditch.
Reports say that both Jeep Cherokee and Escalade have an inherent security flaw. This is such:
The cars' apps, Bluetooth and telematics connecting the car to a cellular network like OnStar are on the same network as the engine controls, brakes, steerings and tire pressure monitor system.
Miller and Valasek said a car’s networked system could be an easy gateway for the hackers to come in with just the use of their mobile phones and a laptop.
What they need to do is just know the car’s IP address, and they can break into its system through a wireless internet connection.
#6 Data Breach at US Government Office of Personnel Management
United States Office of Personnel Management (US OPM) is an independent agency of the United States that works to recruit, retain and honor a world-class workforce for the American people.
The US OPM became a victim of a cyber attack twice that led to a data breach, compromising personal information of some 21.5 million related to current and former federal workers.
Hackers accessed sensitive data of US government officials that could be used for identity theft and cyber-espionage.
The stolen data included Social Security Numbers, employment history, residency and educational history, criminal and financial history, fingerprints, information about health, personal and business acquaintances.
Some stolen records also include findings from interviews conducted by background investigators that discussed sexual assaults and drug, mental health treatments and alcohol addictions.
Investigations reveal that China-based hackers were behind the data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
#7 Anthem Data Breach
Anthem Insurance Inc., previously known as WellPoint Inc, was a victim of a massive cyber attack in February.
Back in February, Cyber attackers executed a very sophisticated attack to gain unauthorized access to the company’s IT systems that had database of some 80 million people and obtained personal identifiable information (PII) relating to its consumers and employees.
The information accessed included:
Social security numbers,
Employment information, including income data
The hackers gained access to Anthem's data by stealing the network credentials of at least five of its employees with high-level IT access.
The path may have been "Phishing", in which a fraudulent e-mail could have been used to trick employees into revealing their network ID and password, or into unknowingly downloading software code that gives the hackers long-term access to Anthem’s IT environment.
The company informed millions of its affected customers of the massive data breach that potentially exposed the personal information of its former as well as current customers.
Anthem appointed Mandiant, world’s leading cyber security organization, to evaluate the scenario and provide necessary solutions.
This is just the beginning...
These are just seven; there are many more! And it could reach you too.
The power of the cyberspace and the criminals hovering over it should not be underrated.
Chucking such happenings where your personal data is at risk and being irrational is not the solution rather it is the beginning of activities that will bother you big time in the future.
The cyberspace is like a dope that is capable of psychoactive effects. A proactive thinking and approach will take you ahead of the people on the other end.
Take the time to ponder over the incidents and respond wisely is all we have to say!