Hacking Through the Ages Part 3


18 Sep 2015

Hacking Through the Ages Part 3

Last week we looked at the main hacking events that occurred in the 1990’s. This third and final article looks at the most famous hacks and hacking related events to have occurred so far in the 21st century.

2000- Fears over the now infamous scare story of the ‘millennium bug’ proved to be unfounded as the world survived entering the year 2000. There was no doomsday event that saw all of the world’s computers breaking. What the scare story did show however, was just how much people had come to rely on their computers.

The world may not have ended as some folks had feared, but the year 2000 began a new golden age for hackers. In February 2000, the first documented Denial of Service (DoS) attack took place. A 15-year old Canadian hacker launched a string of DoS attacks against a number of big commercial websites.

In May 2000, millions of computers around the world were infected by the ILOVEYOU virus within a matter of hours. It is widely considered to be one of the most damaging viruses ever made. The virus was so affective because it was attached to an email with the subject line- ILOVEYOU. Attached to the email was a file named LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU. In 2000, not many people had anti-virus protection in place and with that title not many people could resist clicking on it. By doing so it triggered the virus, which then went on to steal the victim’s e-mail address list. It then sent itself to every address within.

2001- In February, a Dutch hacker creates and releases a virus known as the Anna Kournikova virus. It was the first such virus that tempted users to open an infected email attachment by promising to show a raunchy picture of the tennis star. Many other viruses have since followed a similar strategy.

In October a worm called Kletz begins to spread via email.

2002 – Kletz becomes one of the biggest malware outbreaks in history due to the sheer number of machines it manages to infect. In monetary terms the cost was relatively small. 

Gary McKinnon is accused of carrying out what the US called ‘the biggest military computer hack of all time’.

2003 – The infamous hacktivist group Anonymous is formed.

2004- Cyber warfare between North Korea and a number of its rivals takes place. The North Koreans claim to have trained 500 hackers to attack the computer systems of South Korea and Japan.

2007- Tensions between Estonia and Russia lead to the small eastern European nation suffering from a cyber-attack which cripples numerous government websites.

2007 also saw the hacking of American company TJX. A hacker launched a cyber-attack using an insecure WiFi network in one of the company’s TJ Maxx stores. The hackers were reported to have stolen the credit card details of 45 million people. Experts however believe that the real number was nearer 94 million. The attack is considered to be one of the most expensive hacks in history.

2008- Anonymous begin their campaign against the church of Scientology.

2009 – Heartland Payment Systems a New Jersey payment processing firm, was hacked and lost data on tens of millions of credit cards in a cyber-attack.

2010- Stuxnet is discovered after it accidently spreads from its intended target. The worm is believed to be a cyber weapon jointly developed by Israel and the USA. The worm is thought to have been developed to sabotage Iran’s nuclear programme.  Nearly 60% of all computers in Iran were affected by Stuxnet.

2011- Sony’s PlayStation network is hacked forcing it offline, much to the annoyance of gamers. The details of 77 million gamers is stolen in what is thought to be one of the biggest hacks in history.

2013 – CryptoLocker is believed to have been posted on the internet on September 5th. The ransomware restricts access to computer systems that it infects and often demands that the user pays a ransom to remove the restriction.

2014- Sony Pictures is hacked by what is suspected to be North Korea. The hack was a response to the company’s planned release of the movie ‘The Interview’ a comedy about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

2015 – So far this year there have been several high profile hacking incidents. The main ones being the Carphone Warehouse breach, Ashley Madison attack and the data theft from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). 

As we become more and more reliant on computers, the number of hacks is expected to increase sharply. Don’t become a target, invest in protection and seek the advice of the professionals at PGI Cyber.

Part 1 can be read here: https://pgicyber.com/NewsandEvents/Hacking-Through-the-Ages-Part-1  

Part 2 can be read here: https://pgicyber.com/NewsandEvents/Hacking-Through-the-Ages-Part-2 

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