Top 10 Cyber Hacks of 2014
When it comes to security breaches, 2014 was an unprecedented year. Attacks were launched against some of the biggest corporations and most famous celebrities in the world. The tip of the cyberwar was reached with the controversy that the James Franco/Seth Rogan movie created and the vulnerabilities of the web were exposed and exploited to devastating levels. Regardless the increased focus on cybersecurity, the state of the internet continues to be vulnerable.
With that in mind, here are some of the biggest hacks that tormented 2014 last year. Just about all of them had enough media coverage, and impact was large enough that made people to check and change their passwords.
The ubiquitous reports surrounding Heartbleed made it one of the most influential and frightening hacks in 2014. Recognized as “catastrophic” the vulnerability of Heartbleed affect the software library that was used to encrypt the way web traffic moved. Because of this, it meant that attackers were able to take sensitive data from servers without leaving any hint of their presence.
Heartbleed threw the network security world into chaos, creating an enormous impact that affected numerous services, including some of the most regularly used and popular software in the world.
The internet needed months to recover after Heartbleed took place, providing just enough time for Shellshock to emerge. This allowed hackers the access they needed to worm their way into vulnerable Mac OS X and Linux systems. It was a matter of hours before hackers had begun to take over crucial machines and create numerous slave botnets that were capable of launching numerous attacks on various targets, including the Department of Defense in the U.S.
Today, payments made through mobile mediums have evolved into a gold mine, which is why Target, Best Buy, and Walmart got together and decided to launch a product named CurrentC, as a counter to Apple Pay. However, issues arose when after a couple of days, users were informed that various unauthorized “third parties” had obtained some of their email addresses.
According to experts, either CyberVor was a significant hack that Russian criminals managed to pull off, or it was a gigantic hack on public relations done by Hold Security. The New York Times wrote a story regarding the Russian gang “CyberVor”, who had gathered 1.2 billion password/username combination and 500 email addresses, creating the largest database of stolen credentials.
- Big box retailer hacks
In September, Home Depot became the victim of a hacking incident that resulted in over fifty-six million debit and credit card details. In 2013, Target was hacked, resulting in the theft of 40 million debit and credit cards. This should have been a wakeup call to other huge retailers, who were pushed to reinforce their security steps. However, reporters discovered that Home Depot had actually been ignoring their security needs for six years.
- JP Morgan Chase
Hackers found their way into JPMorgan Chase in August 2014, outlining one of the most significant breaches in history. In total, more than 83 million small businesses and households were affected. This amounts to around 65% of all the households in the U.S. However, despite the vastness of the issue, luckily, the stolen data wasn’t as sensitive as it could have been. Account numbers, passwords, IDs and social security numbers were safe.
The Sony hack overtook the internet news headlines for some times, not just because of its immediate impact, but also the implications it raised for the future. Sony hackers aimed directly for the company itself, starting drama in November when those responsible for the attack demanded a ransom in exchange for stolen data being kept private. When Sony didn’t pay, financial information was released, private conversations were made public, and Sony was forced to shelve the movie “The Interview”.
During the last few years, the chances are that you will have heard of numerous attacks against the West that have been linked back to China. It has gotten to the level where just about any attack is considered to have started in Beijing, unless there is evidence to prove otherwise. However, the UK and U.S. were allegedly responsible for deploying Regin, a piece of malware that was used to launch an attack on a Belgian internet company. Regin has also been found on the computers of the European Union. It works by stealing data for months at a time with complete discretion, disguising itself as legitimate forms of software. These days, it is regarded as one of the most sophisticated espionage tools ever discovered.
- South Korea
In August, 2014, about 70% of South Korea’s adult population was impacted by a huge hacking breach that hit around 220 million private records, and 27 million people. Up to this point, there has never been a greater example of a single country being affected so vastly by a single attack. In total, sixteen hackers were arrested for the scheme that earned them a very small amount of cash (under $400,000) when they started to target the gaming culture of Korea.
In August 2014, hundreds of images, including explicit photos of some of the biggest female celebrities in the world were posted online after Apple’s iCloud was hacked, allowing users to steal usernames and passwords.
Millions of people saw the stolen images, and some of them even begun to send bitcoin payments to the hacker responsible, which sparked a debate around the world regarding the ethics of posting stolen nude photographs. Eventually, sites such as Reddit began to take steps towards reducing the spread of the photos, after they had already benefited from some of the rewards of huge cash deposits and millions of views.
In 2014, it’s clear to see that the issue of cybersecurity reached new levels in regards to public awareness and concern. Hacks on Sony and names like Heartbleed have led to more internet related headlines than ever before. However, it was probably Celebgate that managed to get the most attention, the fastest.
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