It's hard to imagine life without the Internet. Browsing the web has become so second nature to us that we share sensitive information through our e-mails and social media accounts each day without second thought, and hackers know it.
Whether it's fooling people with spam e-mails or infecting servers with malware, it's not uncommon to hear about cyber attacks nabbing banking information or temporarily derailing government services. It's concerning, to say the least. Here are four infamous cyber attacks that made headlines. Find out what they had in common and how you can use these learnings to make the case for upgrading your own security today, presented in partnership with Cisco.
1. Sony Pictures hack
The 2014 political farce, “The Interview,” inspired a group of North Korean hackers to take down Sony Pictures with a confidence-breaching cyber attack. To protest the Seth Rogen flick, a comedy about an assassination plot on North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un, a group identified as the "Guardians of Peace" planted malware in the Sony system to extract a ton of sensitive information. When an attempt to block the release of the movie failed, the group leaked scripts for the then unreleased film “Spectre,” the salaries of executives, and, perhaps most terrifyingly, the social security numbers of some 47,000 employees.
2. Anonymous attacks the Harper Government over Bill C-51
The introduction of the previous Conservative Government's divisive Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C-51) in parliament was intended to target terrorist threats, but many have taken issue with the powers it gives the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in accessing and monitoring regular citizens' online activity. Infamous online hacktivists Anonymous, for instance, cried foul on the Harper Government in the summer of 2015, crashing several federal government computer systems in a cyber attack that temporarily crippled Ottawa's infrastructure. Numerous government employees' e-mails were destabilized and websites were knocked offline for a couple of hours. Online security has since been beefed up, while Bill C-51 remains in place.
3. Twitter, Netflix and More Blacked Out in 2016
A severe online blackout shook up routine across the U.S. East Coast last fall during a massive, interconnected “distributed denial of service” (DDoS). The coordinated attack on web traffic company Dyn crippled access to a vast range of services and social media platforms. To get an idea of how much activity was impeded, people were unable to express their thoughts on Twitter, pick up products through Amazon, stream their favourite album on Spotify, binge watch a show on Netflix, or even read an article on the New York Times website. Other companies affected included Airbnb, PayPal, and Reddit. While the problem was rectified by Dyn within a few hours, it proved how quickly modern life can be disrupted by cyber attack.
While most of us head to Subway to "Eat Fresh," something rotten took place a few years back when a pair of Romanian hackers compromised the credit card payment terminals of 150 U.S. franchises. They took the data of over 145,000 customers. After scanning for point-of-sale systems on the Internet, Iulian Dolan and Cezar Iulian Butu conspired to crack passwords to gain access to sensitive payment card data, which caused an estimated loss of $10 million dollars. That's a heck of a lot of meatball subs. Dolan was sentenced to seven years in prison on computer and credit card fraud charges, while a plea deal left Butu with 21 months in prison.