While international corporations emit a sense of invincibility, sometimes not even their power, wealth and prestige can protect them against malicious hackers who are determined to infiltrate their systems at any cost. Read on for an overview of the greatest hacking attacks in history!
Kevin Mitnick – USA’s Most Wanted
Back in 1995, US citizen Kevin Mitnick was renowned as America’s most notorious internet hacker. He was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment for hundreds of malicious computer hacks and his esteemed targets included Apple, Nokia, Motorola and the FBI. Ironically, Mitnick now operates a hugely successful internet consultancy business.
Vladimir Levin – The Citibank Scandal
Russian computer programmer, Vladimir Levin, was arrested in 1995 for hacking into the Citibank network and embezzling the corporation out of a massive US$10.7 million. While the initial transfer was a success, Levin was later busted at Heathrow Airport after attempting to recover the cash. His punishment was three years in a US prison. While Citibank undoubtedly had tight security measures in place, the hack highlights the absolute necessity of regular security testing as well as a structured audit and compliance schedule.
Timothy Lloyd – The Logic Bomb
1996 saw US hacker Timothy Lloyd implant six destructive lines of software code into Omega Engineering’s computer network. The code initiated the explosion of a ‘logic bomb’ designed to cripple the company’s vital software, which was used to service NASA and the US Navy. Had the company protected itself with source code safeguarding software such as Escrow Agreements from the NCC Group, they may have been able to reclaim the codes, restore the critical software and retain continuity that would have saved millions.
Gary McKinnon – Infiltrated NASA and the Pentagon
Inspired by the 1983 military hacking film WarGames, McKinnon managed to break into 97 US military computers in search of UFO evidence. The 2001-2002 attacks on the Pentagon and NASA computer systems rendered 300 Navy weapons computers unusable and caused US$800,000 worth of damage.
Adrian Lamo – Notorious New York Times Hacker
Originally from Boston, Adrian Lamo has gained cult-like status as the “most controversial [ex] hacker operating in the 21st century.” He met his downfall in 2003 when he was arrested for hacking into the New York Times computer system, where he added his name to an exclusive list of expert sources.
George Hotz – The PlayStation Fiasco
American hacker George Hotz caused worldwide panic when he and his cyber team broke into the PlayStation 3 network which was celebrated as being the only 100% secure console system of the seventh generation video games era. The hack saw personal data and information stolen from 77 million users across the globe. One can’t help but think PlayStation’s penetration testing wasn’t quite up to scratch. Like many other legendary hackers, Hotz’s genius has won him industry recognition and the 24 year old was later employed by Facebook.
From Citibank and NASA, to PlayStation and Apple, it seems no corporation is safe from malicious hackers. To protect your company against digital catastrophes it is vital to ensure that your software applications have sufficient escrow agreements, security tests, penetration tests, audit and compliance procedures and defensive precautions in place.