The Worst Cases Of Cyber Attacks In History

Cyber attacks are often the work of anonymous hackers.
Cyber attacks are often the work of anonymous hackers.

The late 20th century was the period when the internet was born which was aimed to be used for beneficial and constructive purposes. However, in recent years, people have used the internet to conduct attacks against organizations and individuals in what is known as cyber-terrorism. Cyber terrorism is defined as the deliberate disruption or infiltration of computer networks using computer software.

1. WannaCry Ransomware Attack

WannaCry ransomware is an ongoing cyber attack involving the infection of Microsoft Windows with a ransomware computer worm. The global attack is on an unprecedented scale with over 230,000 computers being under attack in 150 countries spread all over the world. The Wannacry ransomware involves the encryption of files from vulnerable computers and demanding payment of a ransom amounting to about $600 payable in cryptocurrency. The infection vector behind the attack is thought to be EternalBlue which was developed by the US National Security Agency but leaked to Shadow Brokers, a group of hackers. The spread of the ransomware has however been minimized by a discovery of a kill switch.

2. Shamoon Computer Virus Attack

Shamoon is a type of computer virus which is attributed to the infection of computer systems and cyber espionage on computers in the energy sector. Also known as Disttrack, Shamoon was used by a group of hackers known as “Cutting Swords of Justice” on August 15, 2012 to destabilize computer systems in the energy giant, Saudi Amarco Company. The group claimed responsibility for the attack which affected operations in 30,000 workstations of the company. Another company hit by the computer virus was the Qatari RasGas Company and LNG Company where computer systems were temporarily knocked offline by the virus causing the company to incur operational downtime.

3. Operation Olympic Games

Operation Olympic Games is the code name given to the sabotage and disruption of nuclear facilities in Iran through cyber attacks. The source of attacks is claimed to be the United States government and to some extent, Israel, but the two countries never officially acknowledging responsibility. The campaign to sabotage the Iranian nuclear reactors began during the administration of President Bush and continued during President Obama’s administration. The two countries used the computer virus known as Stuxnet to infiltrate Iranian computer systems which were able to stop operations in 1000 centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear plant. However, the infection of computers was not limited to the nuclear facility with the bug spreading to several personal computers in the surrounding region.

4. Operation Shady Rat

Operation Shady Rat is the code name to an ongoing cyber attack aimed at government institutions and businesses in 14 countries across the globe, and even international organizations such as the United Nations. Operation Shady RAT involved the infiltration of computer systems and stealing valuable and sensitive documents from the computers. Dmitri Alperovitch who named the cyber attack led investigations to establish the source of the computer attacks. Due to a spike in the attacks in days preceding the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in China, analysts believe that the attacks are sponsored by the Chinese government.

5. Titan Rain

Titan Rain is the code name given to a series of cyber attacks on American computer systems which occurred in the early 2000s. The attacks were focused on the main contractors of the Department of Defense including Redstone Arsenal, NASA, and Lockheed Martin. The cyber attacks were in the form of cyber espionage where the attackers were able to gain sensitive information from the computer systems. Investigations to establish the cause of the attacks showed that the Chinese military had a hand in their execution, a claim the Chinese government vehemently denied. Other sporadic attacks were directed to the British Ministry of Defense, an act which severely strained foreign relations between the UK and China.

6. The 2007 Estonia Cyber Attacks

On April 27, 2007, Estonia was subject to a series of cyber attacks on an unprecedented scale. The attacks paralyzed computer networks in the Parliament of Estonia, government ministries, banks, and media outlets. The attacks were in response to a decision to relocate the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn as well as the war graves in the capital city. The Estonian government immediate response was to cast the blame on the Russian Kremlin, allegations which it later retracted for being baseless. The government also increased investments in cyber security as well as drafting the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare which outlines international laws on cyber warfare.

7. July 2009 cyber attacks

The July 2009 cyber attacks were several cyber attacks propagated against South Korea and the United States. The cyber attacks which occurred in three waves affected over 100,000 computers in the two countries and were directed to websites belonging to government institutions, including the White House, The South Korean National Assembly, The Pentagon, and media outlets. While the exact source of the attacks is not known, many analysts point fingers at the North Korean telecommunications ministry.

8. OpIsrael

OpIsrael was an acronym given to a series of cyber attacks propagated against websites which were deemed to be Israeli. The cyber attacks began on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 7, 2013 and involved database leaks, database hijacking, and defacements. The websites targeted including those belonging to schools, Israeli newspapers, small businesses, non-profit organizations, and banks.

9. 2010 Cyber Attacks On Myanmar

2010 was the year when Myanmar conducted its first elections in 20 years. However, in the few months preceding the elections, the country was hit by a series of cyber attacks which affected many internet users all over the country. The 2010 cyber attacks on Myanmar were of a DDoS nature (distributed denial-of-service) and began on October 25th, 2010. The attacks overwhelmed the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, the country’s leading internet provider by flooding the information gateway with more data than its bandwidth. The country’s ruling party was speculated as being involved in the cyberattacks as a way to silence dissent.

10. 2013 Singapore Cyber Attacks

The 2013 Singapore cyber attacks were a series of cyber attacks conducted by the hacking group Anonymous against the Government of Singapore. According to the hackers, the attacks were a response to the establishment of web censorship regulations by the government. The cyber attacks lasted for few days and were focused on government websites as well as social media accounts of influential people.


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