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15 Biggest Cyber Attacks In History And How They Happened

Over the years, a number of cyber attacks have happened that sock the world. Attackers are using sophisticated methods and changing tack ticks everyday. Companies both big and small have fallen prey to hackers resulting to huge loses. Governments organizations as well as individuals have fallen prey to the attackers.

In every cyber attack attempt, a trail of losses are left behind with many companies and institutions loosing a lot of money and data getting bridged.

15 Biggest Cyber Attacks In History And How They Happened

Below is a list of some of the biggest cyber attacks that shook the world.

1. WannaCry ransomware attack

A ransomware attack that affected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries in May 2017.

WannaCry was a ransomware attack that occurred in May 2017. It was a worldwide cyberattack that affected thousands of computers, primarily in the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, as well as other organizations and individuals in more than 150 countries.

The attack worked by encrypting the files on the affected computers and demanding payment in the form of bitcoin in order to decrypt and restore access to the files. The ransomware was spread through a variety of means, including email phishing campaigns and the exploitation of a known vulnerability in older versions of the Windows operating system.

The vulnerability, known as EternalBlue, had been discovered and exploited by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) before being leaked to the public. Microsoft had released a patch for the vulnerability in March 2017, but many organizations and individuals had not applied the patch, leaving their systems vulnerable to attack.

The attack caused significant disruptions and financial losses, with the NHS and other organizations being forced to shut down computer systems and divert resources to responding to the attack. It also raised concerns about the potential for future ransomware attacks and the importance of cybersecurity measures.

2. Marriott data breach

A data breach that exposed the personal data of up to 500 million people in 2018.

The Marriott data breach, also known as the Starwood data breach, was a cyberattack that occurred between 2014 and 2018, in which hackers accessed the reservation systems of the Starwood hotel chain (which was later acquired by Marriott International). The hackers gained access to the personal and financial information of an estimated 500 million guests, including names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, and credit card numbers.

It is believed that the hackers accessed the reservation systems through a third-party software vendor, using credentials that had been obtained through a spearphishing attack. The hackers were able to access the systems undetected for four years, during which time they exfiltrated a large amount of data. The breach was not discovered until November 2018, when Marriott was alerted to unusual activity on the reservation systems by an internal security tool.

The Marriott data breach was one of the largest and most severe data breaches in history, and it had significant consequences for the affected individuals and for Marriott as a company. It prompted widespread concern about the security of personal and financial information, and it led to a number of investigations and legal actions.

3. Equifax data breach:

A data breach that exposed the personal data of 147 million people in 2017

The Equifax data breach was a cyberattack that occurred in 2017, in which hackers accessed the personal and financial information of an estimated 147 million people. The hackers exploited a vulnerability in the website application software of Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies in the United States, and were able to access a vast amount of sensitive information, including names, social security numbers, birthdates, and addresses.

The breach was discovered in July 2017, but it is believed that the hackers had gained access to the systems in May of that year. The breach received significant media attention and was widely criticized, as it raised concerns about the security of personal information and the ability of companies to protect that information.

Equifax faced a number of investigations and legal actions in the wake of the breach, and the company’s handling of the incident was widely criticized. The breach had significant consequences for the affected individuals and for Equifax as a company, and it prompted calls for greater protections for personal information and stronger cybersecurity measures.

4. Mirai DDoS attack

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that took down large parts of the internet in 2016, affecting websites and services such as Netflix, Twitter, and PayPal.

The Mirai DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack was a cyberattack that occurred in 2016, in which a network of compromised Internet of Things (IoT) devices was used to launch a DDoS attack on a number of high-profile websites and Internet infrastructure. The attack was one of the largest and most significant DDoS attacks in history, and it had widespread consequences for the affected websites and for Internet users in general.

The Mirai malware was designed to target and compromise IoT devices, such as home routers, security cameras, and smart thermostats, which are often poorly secured and can be easily exploited. Once the malware had infected a device, it would turn the device into a “bot,” which could be controlled remotely and used to launch DDoS attacks.

The Mirai DDoS attack was launched in October 2016 and targeted a number of high-profile websites, including Twitter, Netflix, and Reddit. The attack caused widespread disruptions and made it difficult or impossible for many users to access the affected websites.

The Mirai attack was significant because it demonstrated the potential for IoT devices to be used as a weapon in cyberattacks, and it raised concerns about the security of IoT devices and the potential consequences of their widespread use.

4. Yahoo data breaches:

Two separate data breaches in 2013 and 2014 exposed the personal data of all 3 billion Yahoo user accounts.

The Yahoo data breaches were a series of cyberattacks that occurred between 2013 and 2014, in which hackers accessed the personal and financial information of an estimated 3 billion Yahoo users. The breaches were among the largest and most significant data breaches in history, and they had significant consequences for Yahoo and the affected individuals.

The first Yahoo data breach was discovered in 2014, when the company learned that hackers had accessed the names, email addresses, and dates of birth of an estimated 500 million Yahoo users. The breach was believed to have occurred in 2013, and it is believed that the hackers were a state-sponsored group based in Russia.

The second Yahoo data breach was discovered in 2016, when the company learned that hackers had accessed the names, email addresses, and security questions of an estimated 1 billion Yahoo users. The breach was believed to have occurred in 2014, and it is not clear who was responsible for the attack.

The Yahoo data breaches were widely criticized, as they raised concerns about the security of personal and financial information and the ability of companies to protect that information. The breaches had significant consequences for Yahoo, including a decline in the company’s value and a number of investigations and legal actions.

5. Petya/NotPetya ransomware attack

A ransomware attack that affected organizations in multiple countries in 2017, causing widespread disruption.

Petya/NotPetya was a ransomware attack that occurred in June 2017. It was a global cyberattack that affected thousands of computers in more than 65 countries, causing significant disruptions and financial losses.

The attack worked by encrypting the files on the affected computers and demanding payment in the form of bitcoin in order to decrypt and restore access to the files. The ransomware was spread through a variety of means, including email phishing campaigns and the exploitation of a known vulnerability in older versions of the Windows operating system.

The vulnerability, known as EternalBlue, had been discovered and exploited by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) before being leaked to the public. Microsoft had released a patch for the vulnerability in March 2017, but many organizations and individuals had not applied the patch, leaving their systems vulnerable to attack.

The Petya/NotPetya attack caused significant disruptions and financial losses, with many organizations being forced to shut down computer systems and divert resources to responding to the attack. It also raised concerns about the potential for future ransomware attacks and the importance of cybersecurity measures.

6. Target data breach

A data breach in 2013 exposed the personal data of up to 110 million people.

The Target data breach was a cyberattack that occurred in 2013, in which hackers accessed the credit and debit card information of an estimated 40 million Target customers. The breach was one of the largest and most significant data breaches in history, and it had significant consequences for Target and the affected individuals.

The attack was carried out by a group of hackers who gained access to Target’s systems through a third-party vendor that provided heating and air conditioning services to the company. The hackers were able to access the systems undetected for several weeks, during which time they exfiltrated a large amount of data, including credit and debit card numbers and associated personal information.

The Target data breach was discovered in December 2013, and it received significant media attention and public outrage. It prompted widespread concern about the security of personal and financial information and the ability of companies to protect that information. The breach had significant consequences for Target, including a decline in the company’s stock price, a number of investigations and legal actions, and the departure of the company’s CEO.

7. Sony Pictures hack

A hack in 2014 exposed the personal data of more than 100 million people and led to the release of sensitive company emails.

In 2014, the Sony Pictures hack occurred when a group of hackers breached the computer systems of Sony Pictures Entertainment and obtained access to sensitive data, including personal information about employees and their families, emails, and confidential business documents. The hackers also gained access to unreleased films and posted them online.

The hack was later attributed to a group called the “Guardians of Peace,” which was believed to be affiliated with the North Korean government. The attack was thought to be in response to the release of the film “The Interview,” which depicted a fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The Sony Pictures hack was a significant event that exposed the vulnerabilities of even large, well-known organizations and the importance of cybersecurity measures.

8. Blackbaud data breach

A data breach that affected multiple organizations worldwide in 2020, exposing the personal data of millions of individuals

Blackbaud is a provider of cloud-based software solutions for the education, healthcare, and non-profit sectors. In 2020, the company announced that it had suffered a data breach in which an unauthorized party gained access to its systems and obtained personal information about some of its clients’ employees, donors, and other individuals.

According to Blackbaud, the hackers did not gain access to financial information, nor did they obtain any data from clients who use Blackbaud’s on-premises software. However, the company did acknowledge that the hackers may have obtained names, addresses, dates of birth, and other personal details of some individuals.

Blackbaud stated that it took steps to secure its systems and prevent further unauthorized access, and it notified affected individuals and regulatory authorities about the breach. The company also offered free identity protection services to those who may have been affected. Data breaches such as this one highlight the importance of companies taking steps to protect the sensitive personal information of their clients and employees.

9. Bad Rabbit ransomware attack

A ransomware attack that affected organizations in multiple countries in 2017.

Bad Rabbit was a ransomware attack that occurred in 2017. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts a victim’s files. The attackers then demand a ransom from the victim to restore access to the files; hence the name “ransomware.”

In the case of Bad Rabbit, the ransomware spread through a network by exploiting a vulnerability in outdated software and using a technique known as a “man-in-the-middle” attack to intercept network traffic and inject malicious code. The ransomware targeted mainly companies in Russia and Eastern Europe, but it also affected some organizations in other parts of the world.

The attackers behind Bad Rabbit demanded a ransom of 0.05 Bitcoin (about $280 at the time) from victims to restore access to their files. It is not known how many victims paid the ransom, but the attack caused widespread disruption and was estimated to have affected thousands of systems.

10. Anthem data breach

A data breach in 2015 exposed the personal data of 78.8 million people.

The Anthem data breach was a cyberattack that occurred in 2015 and affected Anthem, Inc., one of the largest health insurance companies in the United States. The hackers obtained access to the company’s systems and stole the personal information of about 78.8 million individuals, including names, birthdays, social security numbers, and medical information.

The attack was later attributed to a state-sponsored hacking group based in China. The breach was one of the largest healthcare data breaches in history and had significant consequences for Anthem and its customers. The company faced numerous lawsuits and settlements in the wake of the breach, and it also incurred significant costs to improve its cybersecurity defenses and provide credit monitoring and identity protection services to affected individuals.

The Anthem data breach highlights the importance of companies taking steps to protect the sensitive personal and financial information of their customers and to implement robust cybersecurity measures to prevent such attacks.

11. LinkedIn data breach

A data breach in 2012 exposed the personal data of 117 million people.

In 2012, LinkedIn, a social networking website for professionals, suffered a data breach in which hackers obtained access to the passwords of millions of user accounts. The company discovered the breach in June of that year and promptly reset the passwords of affected accounts.

However, it was later discovered that the hackers had obtained a much larger dataset, including the passwords of more than 100 million LinkedIn user accounts. In 2016, this dataset was made available for sale on the dark web.

LinkedIn took steps to improve its security measures in the wake of the breach, including implementing stronger password hashing and salting techniques. The company also encouraged users to change their passwords and to use two-factor authentication to protect their accounts.

The LinkedIn data breach served as a reminder of the importance of using strong, unique passwords and of regularly updating them. It also highlighted the need for companies to implement robust security measures to protect the sensitive data of their users.

12. eBay data breach

A data breach in 2014 exposed the personal data of 145 million people.

The eBay data breach was a cyber attack that occurred in 2014 and affected the online auction and shopping website. The hackers obtained access to a database containing the names, addresses, dates of birth, and other personal information of eBay users. The company discovered the breach in May of that year and promptly took steps to secure its systems and notify affected users.

According to eBay, the hackers did not obtain financial information or passwords, but the company still encouraged its users to change their passwords as a precautionary measure. The company also offered free credit monitoring services to affected individuals.

The eBay data breach was a significant event that exposed the vulnerabilities of even large, well-known companies and the importance of robust security measures to protect sensitive data. It also highlighted the importance of individuals using strong, unique passwords and regularly updating them to protect their accounts.

13. Adobe data breach

A data breach in 2013 exposed the personal data of 38 million people.

The Adobe data breach was a cyber attack that occurred in 2013 and affected Adobe Systems, a software company. The hackers obtained access to a database containing the names, addresses, and encrypted credit card numbers of about 38 million Adobe customers. The company discovered the breach in October of that year and promptly took steps to secure its systems and notify affected customers.

According to Adobe, the hackers also obtained access to the source code for several of the company’s software products. The company stated that the attack did not affect its Creative Cloud service, and it did not believe that the hackers had accessed any customer accounts.

14. SolarWinds hack:

A cyberattack that was discovered in December 2020 targeting various government agencies and private companies in the US and other countries.

The SolarWinds hack was a cyberattack that occurred in 2020 and affected SolarWinds, a software company that provides network management and monitoring tools to government agencies and businesses. The hackers exploited a vulnerability in SolarWinds’ software and used it to gain access to the networks of the company’s customers, including government agencies and major corporations.

The attack was discovered in December 2020 and was later attributed to a state-sponsored hacking group based in Russia. The extent of the damage caused by the hack is not fully known, but it is believed that the hackers had access to the networks of a large number of organizations for an extended period of time and may have obtained sensitive information.

15. Stuxnet worm

A computer worm that was discovered in 2010 and believed to have been developed by the US and Israeli governments to target Iran’s nuclear facilities

Stuxnet was a computer worm that was discovered in 2010 and is believed to have been developed by the United States and Israel as a cyberweapon to attack Iran’s nuclear program. The worm was designed to target and infect industrial control systems, specifically those used in Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The worm was able to spread through computer networks by exploiting vulnerabilities in the Windows operating system and by using a technique known as “USB spreading,” in which it copied itself to removable drives and then infected other systems when those drives were connected.

Once the worm infected a system, it would scan for specific types of industrial control systems and, if it found them, would modify their software in a way that caused them to malfunction. This could cause physical damage to the equipment being controlled, such as centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

The Stuxnet attack was a significant event because it was one of the first known instances of a cyberattack being used to physically damage equipment. It also highlighted the vulnerabilities of industrial control systems and the potential for cyberattacks to cause physical harm.

 

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