5 Most Notorious Hacking Cases

Posted on June 17, 2012 by Nikhil P Naik

Hackers are out there, and they are doing everything in their power to access your private information. Some are seeking to bring down companies and other powerful entities, some are looking to steal your identity and some are simply in it for the thrill of the thing. Some hackers have gotten away with mind-boggling thefts and created incredible chaos:

1. T.J. Maxx and Marshalls

One of the biggest and most financially devastating hacks took place in 2006 in the computer network of the company that owns retail giants T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. The hackers made off with the data of almost 94 million credit cards. The leader of the hacking ring was eventually caught and is currently serving his 40-year prison term. How did the hackers get in? The system was not protected by a firewall, which essentially left the network wide open.

2. Sony PlayStation

When the popular gaming system suffered a major breach in 2011, 77 million devoted gamers suddenly found their private information, including credit card data and account data, in the hands of criminals. Because Sony took seven days to notify consumers that their information had been compromised, they suffered a major loss of trust. The network was down for nearly a month while Sony tried to recover and discover the extent of the damage. With online service shut down for so long and with mixed messages coming from Sony, many gamers left Sony for other gaming systems.

3. Gawker Media

Over a million bloggers and commenters on such popular sites as Lifehacker, Jezebel and Gizmodo found that their email addresses and passwords had been compromised when hackers broke into the system. The hackers not only acquired personal information that allowed them to take over victims’ email, Facebook and Twitter accounts and begin spamming relentlessly, but also stole Gawker’s source code. The hack was apparently an escalation of a feud that had been taking place between Gawker and members of a forum called 4chan, a notorious online forum and hacker hangout. Unfortunately, Gawker had not done a good job securing their data and had stored the passwords in a way that made it easy for the hackers to access and understand them.

4. RSA Security

What do you do when a company dedicated to computer security is hacked itself? RSA Security, makers of the popular virus-detection and firewall programs Symantec and Kaspersky, found itself in that very situation in 2011, when repeated attacks by hackers finally broke through and gained access to the company’s supposedly secure database of over 40 million employee records. Two hacker groups collaborated to bring down the security giant’s system. The breach was quickly followed by breaches at other major companies, including Lockheed-Martin and L3, which led to belief that the hackers were able to gain access through RSA.

5. Monster.com

About 1.3 million users had their password-protected, confidential information stolen when hackers attacked Monster.com, one of the biggest job search and online recruitment sites. The attack was well orchestrated and was believed to have originated in the Ukraine. The hackers began by infecting several PCs with malware, gained control of them and then used them in the attack, which also helped to cover their tracks. Monster.com failed to report the breach for days, and the information was then used to launch a huge phishing scam, which resulted in victims giving up such information as their bank account numbers and passwords.

Also Read:

 Exclusive: Interview With Himanshu Sharma – One of India’s Finest Ethical Hacker

JustColleges.com helps students find information security education such as the programs at http://www.justcolleges.com/online/technology.htm?

About Nikhil P Naik

Nikhil Naik has a Master's Degree in Information Systems, and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. He also loves playing cricket, listening to music, and traveling. Twitter Handle - @buzz_nikhil.

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