As more and more of our everyday lives rely on online services internet security becomes increasingly important. Even the slightest error in our online security methods can have dire consequences in our real world lives.
It is not just individuals who have to make sure they pay particular attention to online security. Multinational companies and government agencies have to constantly improve their security to make sure they do not fall victim to hacks performed from anyone from spotty teenagers to foreign governments. In today’s online world it seems that even the smallest of hacks can quite literally affect millions of people and cost the owners of the hacked computers millions and millions of dollars to fix the damage that has occurred.
1 – PlayStation Gamers Taken Offline For Days
The Sony PlayStation Network is one of the biggest online gaming networks on the planet so when it was hack in the April of 2011 not only did more than 77 million gamers find themselves locked out of their accounts with their personal details stolen, authorities were quick to declare it as one of the biggest hacks of all time.
At first Sony failed to realise how big the hack was and believed they could quickly fix the problem. Unfortunately for Sony and their 77 million online gamers who had their personal details stolen the hack was much bigger than anyone could have imagined and the online gaming network remained offline for more than 3 solid weeks. In the end the hack cost Sony at least $171 million dollars and forced them to invest further millions into improving the security of their online systems.
2 – Teen Hackers Flood Web Giants
When the year 2000 finally struck computer users and IT managers all over the world very nearly had the greatest group orgasm in history. What they failed to realise that in the early part of the year 2000 a young Canadian teenager named Michael Calace, aka Mafiaboy, was plotting to take down some of the largest websites in the world. To make matters even worse he managed to take these websites down by using a fairly simple hacking technique. Mafiaboy used a technique known as DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service Attack)which in simple terms deluges websites with so many requests that their servers are unable to cope and the sites then shut down completely and crash.
The first of Mafiaboy’s victims was internet giant, Yahoo, which at the time was the world’s leading search engine. From there he then managed to take down websites such as eBay, CNN, Amazon and Dell with only Dell being reluctant to admit the hack until many years after the event.
In total the hacks of Mafiaboy are estimated to have cost the company’s a whopping $1.2 billion and managed to expose just how vulnerable even the biggest of websites are to hackers. The hack was so big that even major politicians such as Bill Clinton took notice and called a summit on cybercrime. Despite major improvements in online security Mafiaboy still believes that many of the security issues he exposed in 2000 still exist today making websites just as vulnerable. He also claims that it is only a matter of time before someone proves this and performs a simple hack with the potential to do much more damage than his 2000 hack.
3 – Online Payments Taken Down by Operation Payback
In most cases cybercrime such as hacking tends to be for financial gain there is the occasional hack that is motivated by political reasons. The most famous of all politically motivated hackers is a group known as Anonymous who have been involved in several high profile hacking incidents.
When WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, was arrested on charges of rape Anonymous were quick to take action and quickly went about hacking the websites of the companies they felt had wronged Assange. Among the targeted websites were Visa, MasterCard and PayPal, all of whom had refused to process payments for Assange following his arrest.
By early December 2010 Anonymous had managed to use a DDoS style attack to slow down and disable many of the world’s largest online payment websites on the busiest shopping days of the entire year. This led to hundreds of thousands of card holders unable to pay for goods or withdraw money from ATM machines.
PayPal reported the hack cost them approximately $5.5 million while other companies such as Visa and MasterCard were reluctant to reveal the cost to their businesses. By February 2013 police had arrested and prosecuted four British men who were all found guilty of involvement in what is now known as Operation Payback. The youngest of the four British men was only 18.
4 – The Very Longest Hack in History
As a general rule computer hacks last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours so it came as quite a surprise when TJX Companies became the victim of a hack lasting 19 months. From June 2005 right through to the December of 2007 hackers managed to hack the company’s computer system and steal the details of a whopping 45.7 million credit card customers who had used their credit cards at TJX stores. This meant that anyone who had used their credit card to shop at Office Max, Barnes and Noble, BK’s, and TK Maxx had not only their card details stolen but other personal information such as driving licence numbers and social security numbers. It is believed that a non-secure wireless network connection was probably responsible for the security breach.
The security breach ended up costing TJX companies huge amounts of money. Not only did they face huge lawsuits and fines for not keeping data securely stored they also were forced to shell out millions on costly security updates. According to reports they ended up paying more than $130 million for infrastructure upgrades and $41 million in fines to Visa USA. It is still unclear as to how much TJX Companies ended up paying as a result of lawsuits.
It is certainly worrying when you consider the massive financial cost that the hack cost the company but what is even more concerning is the sheer amount of time that the hack went on for. Most experts believe that inadequate data logs meant the company had no chance of being able to monitor and track who was accessing their system. If the company had logged data they would have at least stood some chance of discovering the unauthorised access much sooner which would have saved them huge sums of money and saved them much embarrassment in the process.
5 – Lulzsec Vs. Rupert Murdoch
As you can imagine logging onto a news website to see a headline declaring that you were dead would come as quite a shock. This is exactly what happened to news mogul Rupert Murdoch when the hacker group known as Lulzsec hacked his The Sun website and replaced the lead story with the headline “Media Moguls Body Discovered”. Not only did they replace the lead headline they also went onto report that Murdoch had been found dead in his garden.
Upon discovering the hack The Sun quickly removed the story but not before hundreds of thousands of internet users had viewed the story. To this day it is still unclear the exact motivation for the hacking of The Sun website but most people believe that someone somewhere was disgruntled by the UK’s phone hacking scandal and the involvement of News Corporation which just happens to be the parent company of The Sun newspaper.
The hacking of The Sun newspaper appeared to be the first known hack of a major UK newspaper’s website but many experts suggest that it is certainly not the last.