The Biggest Hacks In History

The Biggest Hacks In History

If you are a student who would like to combine a career in security with your love of computers, then you would do well to pursue a degree that will qualify you to become a specialist in information security or overall computer security. The Biggest Hacks In History.

The Biggest Hacks In History

This type of career can put you at the front lines of protecting vital information for businesses, individuals and various departments of the government, and you’ll have to be ready to be a few steps ahead of some excellent hackers and other incredibly gifted programmers who are bent on destruction. Here are just a few of the biggest computer hacks that have occurred throughout history.

Hacking is about manipulating and bypassing systems to force them to do the unintended. While most hackers are benign hobbyists, some hackers inflict terrible widespread damage and cause financial and emotional injury. Victimized companies lose millions in repair and restitution costs; victimized individuals can lose their jobs, their bank accounts, and even their relationships.

Ashley Madison Hack 2015: 37 Million Users

The Biggest Hacks In History

The hacker group Impact Team broke into the Avid Life Media servers and copied the personal data of 37 million Ashley Madison users. The hackers then incrementally released this information to the world through various websites. The effect on people’s personal reputations rippled across the world, including claims that user suicides followed after the hack.

This hack is memorable not only because of the sheer publicity of the aftermath, but because the hackers also earned some fame as vigilantes crusading against infidelity and lies.  

Read more about the Ashley Madison breach:

Operation Shady RAT

A computer programmer based in the People’s Republic of China is assumed to be responsible for these continuing cyber attacks that first began in 2006. Named for its utilization of remote access tools that allows computers to be remotely controlled from anywhere in the world, this hacker has succeeded in stealing the intellectual property from at least 70 public and private organizations across 14 countries. Those victimized include the United Nations, multiple defense contractors, worldwide businesses, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee.


The Biggest Hacks In History

Date: 2013-14
Impact: 3 billion user accounts
Details: In September 2016, the once dominant Internet giant, while in negotiations to sell itself to Verizon, announced it had been the victim of the biggest data breach in history, likely by “a state-sponsored actor,” in 2014. The attack compromised the real names, email addresses, dates of birth and telephone numbers of 500 million users. The company said the “vast majority” of the passwords involved had been hashed using the robust bcrypt algorithm.

A couple of months later, in December, it buried that earlier record with the disclosure that a breach in 2013, by a different group of hackers had compromised 1 billion accounts. Besides names, dates of birth, email addresses and passwords that were not as well protected as those involved in 2014, security questions and answers were also compromised. In October of 2017, Yahoo revised that estimate, saying that, in fact, all 3 billion user accounts had been compromised.

The breaches knocked an estimated $350 million off Yahoo’s sale price. Verizon eventually paid $4.48 billion for Yahoo’s core Internet business. The agreement called for the two companies to share regulatory and legal liabilities from the breaches. The sale did not include a reported investment in Alibaba Group Holding of $41.3 billion and an ownership interest in Yahoo Japan of $9.3 billion.

Yahoo, founded in 1994, had once been valued at $100 billion. After the sale, the company changed its name to Altaba, Inc.


The Biggest Hacks In History

Date: Late 2016
Impact: Personal information of 57 million Uber users and 600,000 drivers exposed.
Details: The scope of the Uber breach alone warrants its inclusion on this list, and it’s not the worst part of the hack. The way Uber handled the breach once discovered is one big hot mess, and it’s a lesson for other companies on what not to do.

The company learned in late 2016 that two hackers were able to get names, email addresses, and mobile phone numbers of 57 users of the Uber app. They also got the driver license numbers of 600,000 Uber drivers. As far as we know, no other data such as credit card or Social Security numbers were stolen. The hackers were able to access Uber’s GitHub account, where they found username and password credentials to Uber’s AWS account. Those credentials should never have been on GitHub.

Here’s the really bad part: It wasn’t until about a year later that Uber made the breach public. What’s worse, they paid the hackers $100,000 to destroy the data with no way to verify that they did, claiming it was a “bug bounty” fee. Uber fired its CSO because of the breach, effectively placing the blame on him.

The breach is believed to have cost Uber dearly in both reputation and money. At the time that the breach was announced, the company was in negotiations to sell a stake to Softbank. Initially, Uber’s valuation was $68 billion. By the time the deal closed in December, its valuation dropped to $48 billion. Not all of the drop is attributable to the breach, but analysts see it being a significant factor.

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