5 Biggest Computer Hacks in History


5 Biggest Computer Hacks in History

I previously talked about deadly computer viruses such as Stuxnet and the world most wanted hacker Kelvin Mitnick but I personally think it's really interesting and concerning the immense damage a hacker can do to some of the world largest companies and organisation over the cost of just one hack.

So today we gonna look at the biggest computer hacks in history. And I can't think of more appropriate start than a young Cuban born American who masterminded the largest credit card fraud in history.

Albert Gonzalez

By 40 the naturally gifted Gonzales carried out his first successful hack into a little-known government agency called NASA this was only two years after he got his first computer. Early in his career, Gonzalez dove headfirst into the world of credit card fraud by involving himself of a hacking group called shadow crew.  

Shadowcrew.com was a forum operating between 2002 and 2004 where people could buy and sell stolen credit card details it was ended when the US Secret service busted wide open and made several arrests. Gonzalez avoided prison time by turning informant and providing incriminating evidence on his fellow shadow crew members to the secret service but karma came back to bite   Gonzalez when he was indicted in 2009 for carrying out what is still to his day the Largest breach of payment card information in history.

The hack was against heartland payment system which processed credit card and debit card transactions for over 275,000 US  business millions of transactions passed through servers each day.

This was a sophisticated plan which  Gonzalez branded operation get rich or die trying. Gonzalez along with a hacking accomplice known as PT who later turned to be Daymond Patrick Toey discovered a vulnerability in Heartland payment system which enable them to perform an SQL injection attack on the company's database.

An SQL injection is when a nefarious command is unexpectedly fed to a database which it isn't expecting and usually causes that database to either leak information back to the hacker or destroys data completely. Gonzalez also found the same vulnerability in the payments systems of 7eleven, JCPenny, T.j.Maxx, and Target he also installed a packet sniffer on the network which recorded credit card transaction in real-time including the magstripe data from the cards happening across thousands of stores nationwide every day.

 From these companies, Gonzalez who had the online pseudonym of Soupnazi was able to steal a combined total of over 170 million credit card numbers instantly giving him on-demand access to probably more money than almost everyone alive.

what he did with his newfound access to the unlimited stolen wealth was to throw himself a $75,000  birthday party and lived in and out of  lavish hotel for a while. Though it is that he was acting as a hacking cell for Russian Kingpin so much of the money was transferred back to Russia via western union. The secret service finally manged to indict Gonzalez in 2009 and who is handed two concurrent 20-yrs prison sentences. After his arrest, he informed the agent of barrel buried in his parents garden containing 1.2 million dollars in cash.

 Contrary to Albert Gonzalez our next hackers weren't motivated by riches in his own words he hacked two of the world most secure and secretive organizations for thought.

Jonathan James 

 Jonathan James was born in Miami and became infatuated with computers when he was 6 by 16yrs he was going by the online pseudonym comrade and had his eyes set on one of the grandest conceived hacking trophies, The US Departement of Defense.

 Specifically, James found a vulnerability on the serves of the defence threat reduction agency DTRA an arm of the DoD responsible for monitoring potential threats to the security of the United States which is really ironic. James managed to install a backdoor on one of the DTRA servers located in dual Virginia, with the back door in place he cloud place a sniffer on the server recording all traffic that passed through it on a daily basis. 

Since DTRA employees access the server every day he was able to capture the usernames, passwords and private messages of hundreds of DoD employees, this gave him the keys for some of the government's most critical secret systems and made him privy to state secret that even White House staff were not aware of never mind 16 years old in his bedroom. Another system that James gained unauthorised access to after performing a separate hack on the marshall space flight centre was the code that NASA used to operate the climate of the International Space Station. 

In theory, this meant that James could alter the temperature and humidity levels of the ISS from his bedroom. Only a few months after this hack James was arrested and still only 16yrs became the first teenager to be imprisoned for cybercrime. He was sentenced to 7 years but permitted to serve them at home minus internet access of course due to his age and low risk to public safety.

Sadly Jonathan James story end's in tragedy in 2008 as he committed suicide because he convinced himself that the police were going to wrongly charge him for involvement in the Albert  Gonzalez TGX case when that broke out. 

Now during the internet's short life, there have been endless hacks that have stolen Usernames, Passwords and other sensitive information from large websites. Some of the most notable examples being Yahoo, Facebook,eBay, Uber, Song, and VeriSign. Whilst these attacks were huge in their scope yahoo had nearly 3 billion user records stolen not one of those had the impact of what many consider to be the most damaging hack in History for millions of people all around the world.

I'm of course talking about the famous 2015 Ashley Madison 

Ashley Madison 

  In case you don't know about ashleymadison.com  is a dating website with a twist, you join with the purpose of cheating on your partner or spouse. Their official tagline is 

"Life is short have an affair "

 Surely nobody would use such a website you may be thinking, well that's not what a staggering 32 million people around the world thought who had signed up to cheat on their not so significant over.

On the 12th of July 2015 employees of avid life, the company that owns Ashley Madison logged onto their computers to find a warning message that threatened to release the information of every Ashley Madison user to the public unless abid life took down Ashley Madison website and it's sister site  Established men. Bizarrely this warning was accompanied by the audio of EC DC's thunderstruck. It will later emerge that the name of the group or individual who carried out the attack went by the name Impact Team. A week after the attack avid life had still not caved and so impact team posted a public  message online that gave the company an Ultimatum

 "shutdown your site in 30days or we release all of the users information to the public "


Following this threat, Ashley Madison tweeted that they had  patch the vulnerabilities on their service that allowed impact team to gain access in the first place but it was too late the damage had already been done if what the hacker claimed was true and it was he had already downloaded the personal information of over 32 million Ashley Madison account.

30 days later the website was still live so in Pastebin title times up the hacking group published the first 10GB of information including millions of email addresses used to sign up for Ashley Madison accounts more data came and by August 60GB of user information had been published by hackers online for everyone to see this included email addresses, physical address and the last 4 digits of credit card numbers. 

Of course, people all over the world combed through the mountain of records and found Ashley Madison accounts owned by numerous CEO's, Celebrities and Politicians. Search engines even sprung up which allowed one to enter their spouse email address and see if they had used Ashley Madison. 

Ashley Madison hack was like no other because it spawned an important public debate sure cheating is wrong but was it morally right of the hackers to expose so many people such at the basic public manner especially when the consequence was so tragic the two Canadians committed suicide as a result of their personal information being included in the attack be causing their personal lives to fall apart .

 People all over the world began receiving death threats because of their involvement with the site and many detestable individuals entirely unrelated to impact team to extorting people they found within the breach data by threatening to tell that person's family if they didn't handover a mountain of bitcoin. 

Please Check Back Tomorrow By 10:12 am Chicago (GMT-5)  To Finish Reading To The End.

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