In the last few years, cyber attacks have begun to quietly grow into a cancer that’s slowly destroying the world from the inside out. That might sound a bit alarmist, but when you take a look at recent cyber attacks and realize how often they occur, and how little is done to either stop the perpetrators, you’ll see that cyber crime isn’t just something from science fiction. Types of cyber attacks can vary from a DDoS (where a server is hit with a bunch of information at once, crashing it), to malware that records information silently, or even a Trojan horse that siphons money into an anonymous account (yes, like in Superman 3). You’ll find examples of all three, and more, on this list of the most vicious cyber attacks in recent history.
You’re probably asking yourself, “What is a cyber attack?” Unfortunately, the answer is pretty vague. A cyber attack can be any way that a hacker, or group of hackers decide they want to destroy a system, steal information, or cause general mischief. The cyber attack definition ranges from having pizzas sent to an unsuspecting person’s home to stealing the information of 40 million people from a large store like Target. The wide breadth of cyber crime is harrowing in its density, but this list will try to put some of the most recent cyber attacks into perspective.
Vote up the cyber attacks that stress you out the most, and then leave a comment telling everyone about the time you hacked your friend’s HBO Go account.
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CIA, Wordpress, and North Korea Hacked on the Same Day
On March 4, 2011 a wave of cyber attacks hit the web when the CIA's website, Wordpress (of all things), and all of South Korea were hit with massive DDoS attacks. Wordpress founder Matt Mullenweg said in a statement that the attack "may have been politically motivated against one of our non-English blogs." No one knows if the attacks were related to one another, but come on, they totally were.
No, it's not a new Tom Clancy novel. Red October was a cyberespionage malware program that had reportedly been operating for up to five years when it was discovered in 2013. Red October's mission was to transmit information ranging from diplomatic secrets to personal information, including from mobile devices. After being discovered, domain registrars and hosting companies shut down as many as 60 domains used by the virus creators to receive information.
The 2014 Sony attacks may have not been the most dangerous, but they were definitely the most well known. Information including email addresses, private messages, social security numbers, and financial information were stolen in the hacks. North Korea was blamed for the attacks, but a variety of scholars doubted the country's ability to launch such an attack.
Gamergate began in 2014 when game developer Zoe Quinn's ex-boyfriend wrote a lengthy and disparaging blog post about her, leading others to falsely accuse her of entering a relationship with a journalist in exchange for positive coverage. Gamergate antagonists began doxing the women who were critical of their misogyny, and when they got bored with that they started "swatting" their victims by sending SWAT teams to their homes.