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3 Famous Cyber Attacks

What is a Cyber Attack?

A cyber attack is an electronic assault or operation launched by cybercriminals using one or more computers or other technical devices, against a single or multiple computers or networks. A cyber attack can be dangerous in many ways. It could maliciously disable computers, steal data, or use a breached computer as a launch point for other attacks. Cybercriminals use a variety of methods to launch a cyber attack, including malware, phishing, ransomware, denial of service, among other methods.

So what are the biggest cyber attacks we've seen in recent times?

1 - Yahoo! Data Breach

Date of breach: 2013 Date breach was reported: 2016

Experts in the industry assessed and analysed that the hack was achieved through forging cookies, which allowed the attackers to access user accounts without entering a password.

Damage: $16 Million & over 3BILLION Compromised Accounts

- Yahoo! originally reported the hack in 2016, a whole three years after the breach took place! They initially ascertained that a whopping one billion (1BN) user accounts were affected. Yahoo! were soon to discover this already high number was going to more than double.

- Yahoo! then updated their assessment of the matter in 2017, saying that every single account held by Yahoo! at the time had been breached. EVERY SINGLE ACCOUNT!

- This included extended companies of Yahoo!, such as the popular blog platform Tumblr. The total number of Yahoo! accounts active in 2013 topped three billion. ( Malta's population 6,650 times over. )

- It cost the company $16 MILLION in forensic and lawyer costs.

2 - Google China Worm Attack

Date of attack: 2009

This attack raised plenty of political issues.

Google China's HQ detected the security breach in around mid-December and it sure opened up a whole can of worms. ( pun intended ) It was discovered that hackers had used a worm attack to gain access to several of Google's corporate servers and a plethora of intellectual property in fact stolen.

Google stated that it had evidence which 'suggests that the primary goal of the attackers was accessing the GMAIL accounts of Chinese Human Rights Activists"

As the company dug deeper into the attack, they found that numerous Gmail users based in the US, China and Europe had been routinely accessed without permission.

Damage: Hong Kong / China Political Damage & Complete Business Re-evaluation

And so of course all eyes darted towards the Chinese Government. They got accused of disregarding human rights for years. Google had entered the Chinese market in 2006 and had to capitulate to China's stringent Internet censorship regime. The cyber attacks in 2009 led to to Google's complete re-evaluation of its business in the country. In fact, in March 2010, Google relocated its servers for GOOGLE.CN to Hong Kong. Why?

This move was orchestrated to escape China's infamous Internet filtering policy.

3 - Marriott Hotels Account Compromisation

Date of attack: 2014

Date breach was reported: 2018

It took 4 YEARS for the hotel giant to realise that the information of up to 500MILLION

guests had been compromised. To give you an idea of how large that number is, that is Malta's population, 1,250 times over.

Just think about it, what sensitive information do you have to input to book a hotel room? The information accessed included:

  • Payment information

  • Names

  • Mailing addresses

  • Phone numbers

  • Email addresses

  • Passport numbers

  • Details of high-end American Express cards ( High End Guests - Political Members )

  • Marriott's banking data

Damage: Marriott now faces a $123 MILLION fine by UK Authorities

Your business is always at risk and if there's one thing we've learnt from recent times is that no one is immune and we should handle sensitive data responsibly. Electronic threats and cyber attacks are getting more powerful, more smart and more costly every year.


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