Whenever we hear the word ‘hack’ or ‘hacker,’ what comes to a person’s mind is the pictureof a figure clad in dark clothes from head to toewith a creepy mask on his face. That person isusually involved in stealing people’s identities from the internet,a scenario that half of the internet population is scared of.
Hackers use tactics that include accessing systems or devices illegally, from technical tools, like viruses or software, to social engineering, where a victimunknowingly clicks on an attachment or photo which gives access topersonal data to the hacker.
Let’s look at how hackers used these tactics to pull off these five biggestinternet hacks.
- Citibank Hack
The hacking attempt occurred when many banks made themselves digital to improve customer access, leading to fewer physical branches and increased electronic services. Citibank in New York was also among these banks; they have made a new cash management system that allows the electronically transferring of money to other banks in any part of the world.
Vladimir Levin was the hacker behind this attempt;he pulled offa big-money heist of$10 million byhacking the telephones and computers of Citibank.After this, they managed to steal customers’ passwords and account numbers as they told Citibank representatives their information over the phone.Levin was given a three-year sentence in prison after being caught, and only $4000 was recovered from such a huge amount.
- Sony’s PlayStation Network
Sony’s PlayStation Network suffered a targeted (DDoS) distributed denial of services attack, where theylet hundreds or thousands of bots take control,which made it impossible for them to deliver the services. Around 77 million people’s accounts had been stolen, withpersonal information, including bank details and addresses, that werekept inPlayStation Network System.Asa result of this hacking attempt, the networks lost$171 million as the company shut down for over 20 days and locked out gamers.
The attacks came from a famous hacktivist group known as Anonymous. They claimed it was a revolt against Sony for punishing coders who modify their hardware.
Yahoo has been continuously becoming the victim of hacking attempts. The most serious hacking attemptoccurred in 2013 when three billion Yahoo accounts were compromised, which included names, passwords, security questions, and contact details. This hack was again reported in 2014 when more than 500 million accounts were hacked, making the matter worse. These attempts also made Yahoo win the title of the largest single entity in internet history to be hacked
- The Spamhaus Project Hack
It is an international nonprofit organization that helps track spam and cyber-related threats; they faced a large DDoS attack that slowed down the entire internet and even shut down some parts of the websitefor hours. The attack generated a stream of over 300 billion bits of data per second, which was such a large quantity that it even knocked Cloudflare, a company specializing in helping organizations stay online amid such attacks offline.
- Pegasus spyware scandal
In July 2021, it was reported that spyware known as Pegasus is being used to hack numerous people, public figures, and commoners’ smartphones, including iPhones. In this malware attempt,dozens of smartphones have been reported to be hacked. Also,an investigation at the time shows that 50,000 phone numbers were of interest to users of the tool.
Omri Opari, The founder of Face of Empathy,the software which Opari founded in response to the Pegasus Spyware deployed by NSO Group, an Israeli State organization, noticed it first.
He noticed the spyware on his laptop but had no idea what he was looking at initially. He could see an owl’s face behind the Yahoo logo’s font in his bookmarks section of Safari. Omri visited the Apple store to see this same hidden image on all the iPads, iPhones, and Macs in the store. Omri did a deep dive into Reddit to see if anyone else could see what he did or if it was just his vision and close attention to detail, but he found no other evidence. A couple of years went by before Omri decided to alert Apple executives of his findings. A few months later, on September 13th, 2021, a story came to Omri’s Google Alerts about the Pegasus Spyware, which infected over 1 billion Apple products proving that whatever he was noticing was right. That also shows us the fragility of our privacy on the internet.