Greatest Online Hack And Attacks – How To NOT Become A Victim!
The Internet Is Amazing, Yet Ruthless!
While the commercialized version of the internet we know of today began to take shape from the late seventies to the early eighties, many forward thinking investors and entrepreneurs cemented themselves in history and generated a league of long term, generational wealth.
However it hasn’t been plain sailing, the internet has created opportunities for companies such as Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon and so on but also for ‘bad actors’ and fraudulent entities seeking to manipulate, steal and take advantage of people’s vulnerabilities.
In this article, we will be looking at several examples of successful hacks, data breaches and attacks and solutions to help prevent it happening to yourself!
TalkTalk Data Breach
In late 2015, popular UK internet service provider Talktalk announced that up to 157,000 of customers’ data had been compromised.
Reports on the incident detailed the hackers had access to sensitive information such as account details, DOB, addresses and up to 15,000 bank account and sort-code numbers were stolen.
At the time, news of the event triggered Talktalk’s share prices to plummet by about a third of their original value!
The Conficker Worm Of 2008
While this is not the most detrimental example in comparison to others, its longevity is something worth noting.
The Conficker worm is malware software that replicates itself and compromises any machine it gets on to, creating havoc by spamming your device or opening backdoor vulnerabilities by becoming a keyboard logger, meaning any passwords or sensitive information entered on your computer are automatically stored and sent elsewhere without you knowing about it!
Another dangerous feature of this resilient bot, it can deactivate your anti-virus in order to protect itself, it has been going from computer to computer for over eight years and is indeed something to look out for.
Mt Gox Exchange Incident
Quite possibly the most notorious event in the Bitcoin and Blockchain industry, up until early 2014 Japanese based Mt Gox handled over 70% of the transactional volume of the Bitcoin network and was at the time the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world.
This was brung to a sudden conclusion as the exchange fell victim to an unforgettable hack and bad actors managed to steal up to 850,000 Bitcoins!
The exchange shortly after declared bankruptcy and with the bulk of Bitcoin transactional volume gone and stolen Bitcoin circulating the eco system, it triggered an eighteen month bear market which effected the entire cryptocurrency markets up until late 2015 and early 2016.
Another cryptocurrency hack, Tokyo based exchange Coincheck experienced the theft of 523 Million NEM coins in early 2018, resulting in over $500 Million stolen from the exchange.
Reports from the exchange detailed that funds held in ‘hot’ (online) wallets had been compromised, since the attack Coincheck has announced it plans to reimburse victims and is in the process of tracking and retrieving the stolen NEM coins.
FBI Hacked By 15 Year Old
In November 2016 a 15 year old boy hacked the servers of the FBI and released detailed information about every undercover agent in the United States!
The data was released on the Dark Web with the most notable point about this hack being that the boy was a total amateur, yet managing to breach the data of what many thought was the most advanced and secure system used by the US Government!
Wannacry Ransomware Attack
An entirely avoidable incident, in May 2017 a worldwide attack was carried out by using the ransomware cryptoworm, which targeted computers running the Microsoft operating system and encrypting the data on the machine.
The hackers demanded Bitcoin if users wanted to restore their computers, and yes some people did pay the ransom! You can view the Bitcoin addresses here!
This rendered computers using older versions of Windows useless, leaving hospitals, businesses and many other computer-orientated industries at the mercy of the hackers, it was later announced that North Korea was behind the incident.
Global Ongoing DDOS Attacks
DDOS or Distributed Denial Of Service Attack is something which happens on a daily basis across the world, you can also view the biggest DDOS attacks online.
How a DDOS works is quite simple, an attacker will literally flood the receiving server with overwhelming amounts of data, overloading its connection and triggering a crash.
The online infrastructure of the West is bombarded with DDOS attacks on a daily basis and anyone from their home can launch an attack, it’s also very common for people to gain the IP of someone from Facebook and flood their internet connection with data.
In the most severe cases when an attacker has the resources a DDOS attack can be extremely disruptive, an example of this is when numerous popular websites, Amazon, Twitter, Netflix and many others became compromised as their servers were literally overloading from extreme levels of data.
Blockchain 51% Attacks And Network Spamming
Even a Blockchain can be rendered useless by similar attacks, a 51% attack is where ‘bad actors’ possess the majority or more than half of the processing power on the respective Blockchain.
With this they can mine empty blocks, slow down the network and generally cause chaos, however for this to be successful on a Blockchain such as Bitcoin or Ethereum’s the ‘bad actors’ will need considerable amounts of processing power, so far the largest Bitcoin mining pools only hold 20% each of the collective processing power.
Spamming the network is again another simple yet effective method of slowing down a Blockchain, providing vast resources are available.
Bitcoin throughout 2017 was spammed with useless transactional data, to the point that its transactional capacity was bloated, this triggered higher transaction fees as the blocks became full.
In late 2016 Ethereum was subject to a vulnerability which meant DDOS attacks could slow down the network’s ability to process information – this resulted in Ethereum forking to patch the vulnerabilities.
How To Avoid Becoming The Victim
Nothing online is 100% impregnable, but there are certain measures that help reduce the risk of being compromised online.
Run regular anti-virus sweeps, Trojans and malware (similar to the Conficker Worm) are extremely dangerous, your computers built in defences and some anti-virus software may not detect it.
Malwarebytes is a free anti-virus, which allows you to scan your device for any suspicious programs, you can delete it after scanning and it usually detects most types of malware, however there are no guarantees of this.
Don’t open suspicious emails, many keyboard loggers and spam bots can use your email to get into your computer, simply by you opening the email allows the malicious program to activate and record all your password entries, website history and even enable it to watch your screen.
Be mindful of who the email is from and keep personal and business emails separate, do not download files from unverified websites, these are likely fraudulent.
Have a work computer and personal computer, it helps to spread risk, having one computer for all your daily tasks can leave you open to being compromised.
If your work device is compromised due to the company being hacked, your personal documents and pictures remain unharmed and vice versa.
Another reason for keeping multiple devices is to prevent individuals from having access to your sensitive and private data.
Phishing, Fake websites and looking out for websites that don’t use HTTPS, in the top right corner of your address bar you will notice a padlock, meaning your information you put in is private (supposedly).
Also this is an excellent way to determine if a website is genuine or not, some websites will literally copy and paste the website template to a fake domain and pretend to be the desired website, many victims from this type of fraud are users of cryptocurrency exchanges.
With a fake login portal you are unwittingly providing bad actors with your username, password and much more!
Never store passwords or private data on a computer or server, for those with cryptocurrency, storing your private key of upmost importance, writing it down on paper and keeping it safe is the ultimate defence, but also not letting websites remember your passwords and debit/credit card information is also key.
Again, as mentioned earlier malware can store every keyboard stroke you enter, only enter financial and personal data on the most trusted and secure websites.
Always be cautious when online, do not trust anything you see and always conduct your own research before signing up or purchasing.