Welcome to the dark side of our digital world. It makes sense that individuals and entire countries rely upon storing their most sensitive data digitally in what they consider fool-proof online places.
Sadly, as recent history proves, no one is safe from malicious cybercriminals.
Cyber attacks target not just individuals but also giant corporations, governments, and major financial institutions. The clever cyber masterminds attack all walks of life, ranging from global to state hacking, malware stealing high-security information, and much more.
Sometimes, due to the nature of governments’ highly sensitive stolen information, a data breach can even result in loss of life.
Over the past year, the largest companies worldwide plus entire countries have been successfully attacked, impacting billions of people. The spectacular rise of cybercrime is still growing as a global-scale battle on keeping data secure is being fought around the world.
Here are some of the top cyberattacks in recent history.
The Paris G20 Summit
You’d think a global conference filled with most of the world heads of state would be safe from prying cyber eyes. But you’d be wrong. In the first full-scale attack against a country, France, the Paris G20 was spectacular cyber-attacked in 2011.
In 2011, one email including a PDF attachment was sent to the French Ministry of Finance. Unfortunately, savvy cybercriminals infected that PDF with malware that went on to infect about 150 computers.
The stolen data was extremely confidential G20 information and impacted countries around the world.
The perpetrators were “a number of professional, determined and persistent hackers”, according to the French National Agency for I.T. Security. “It is the first attack of this size and scale against the French state.”
Although circumstantial evidence pointed towards Chins as the culprit, no suspects were identified. The French government confirmed at the time that the malicious actors stole sensitive files.
Multiple U.S. Government Agencies Hit by Cyber Attacks
In 2020, Cyber hackers working on behalf of a foreign government that is widely believed to be Russia broke into numerous government agencies and networks, including the Commerce, Treasury Departments, and more national security agencies. The cyber hackers breached the protected email systems in a sophisticated attack that has left the feds reeling.
The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said the computer intrusion “poses a grave risk” to U.S. federal, state, local agencies, U.S. companies, and organizations.
Simultaneously, FireEye, a $3.5 Billion Silicon Valley security company, discovered they had also become cyber hacking victims. The hackers broke into the FireEye internal systems, gaining access to FireEye’s security tools, including proprietary programs devised to stop security systems breaches. This cyber intrusion included access to U.S. government agencies’ systems holding sensitive information.
FireEye provides services to numerous U.S. agencies, including the SolarWinds programs, Department of Homeland Security, other U.S. intelligence agencies, and numerous American companies.
The Department of Homeland Security, the F.B.I., and the Director of the National Intelligence Office created a special team to jointly combat and respond to the government cyber breach, which may be the largest in history.
The cyber attacks were not discovered for over four months, stealing data the entire time.
Russian Election Interference in the U.S.
Over the past few years, Russia has been charged with interfering with the two different U.S. presidential elections, both involving Donald Trump.
Individuals hacked the presidential campaign of Democrat Hilary Clinton in 2016 during an obvious attempt to interfere with the American election. Cyber hackers used the chairman of Clinton’s presidential campaign John Podesta and leaked over 20,000 private emails to the public.
At the same time, the Democratic National Committee was targeted with about another 20,000 private and confidential emails from top staff leaked to the public.
In March 2021, a major cyber hack was shared with the public by the F.B.I., who say Democrat President Joe Biden’s presidential election campaign was also under attack by hackers.
The new U.S. intelligence alleges Russia worked with Trump allies, including Rudy Guiliani, to “denigrate” Biden and influence the 2020 election.
These similar incidents show how hackers can discover security breaches within government agencies.
Adobe Giant Data Cyber Breach
Adobe, the global company that created the first paper-to-digital option, the PDF and editable PDF plus document cloud, was hacked in October 2013.
Initially, the massive data breach impacted 153 million Adobe users. Cyber hackers stole over 3 million encrypted credit card information and countless login information for Adobe users.
A month after the infamous cyberattack, Adobe adjusted their data breach to include a much larger number: 38 million active users plus the 153 million username and password pairings.
Adobe researchers discovered the cyber hack also stole I.D.s, names, passwords, plus debit and charge card information.
The Adobe cyber attack’s financial ramifications caused the company to pay $1.1 million in legal fees plus an undisclosed settlement to claimants for violating the Customer Records Act and unfair business practices. Reportedly, this settlement was about $1.1 million.
Held for Ransom: Cyber Crimes Against Major Firms
Cybercriminals have victimized numerous international companies. But it’s not just the multi-million or multi-billion corporations that pay the price for their security breaches.
Every time a cyber attack occurs, criminals have a bonus to their dark work: access to millions of individuals who are clients of their corporate targets.
From identity fraud to corporate espionage, cyber-attacks hurt over a billion people per year and, by 2025, will cost $10.5 trillion globally!
A few of the most well-known cyberattacks include a variety of firms that are household names. Sadly, one of the most widespread cyber frauds also centers around Covid-19 scams.
Global foreign exchange company Travelex was attacked by cybercriminals who held their critical computer files for ransom. This New Year’s Eve attack, now known as “Sodinokibi,” broke into the international firm’s database and disabled 100 percent of its internal I.T. systems.
The cyber hack stole vital files then encrypted them in what was called one of the “most sophisticated ransomware hacks” yet.
These clever digital attackers planned the cyber attack and breaches during an extended holiday that left Travelex’s systems unmonitored. Without any workers on the scene, the criminal individuals had access to all the secure data.
U.K. National Trust
The U.K. National Trust suffered a ransomware attack that was not discovered for about two months.
In this cyber breach, the criminals stole the data of all their donors, alumni, and everyone in the Trust’s system, by hacking into the cloud-based data system at Blackbaud, their software supplier.
Armed with every email address of these U.K. national Trust supporters, the cybercriminals sent criminal messages to try to trick unsuspecting victims into giving up their personal information.
Government agencies have become attractive to malicious cyber actors due to their sensitive data and security vulnerabilities.
A major Phishing data breach targeted Lloyds Bank, impacting a client’s email address, messages, and texts. After about one hundred victims reported suspicious messages, the bank’s attorneys notified all clients about the scam.
Customers were fooled by the official-looking Lloyds Bank messages, with a message reading, “Your Account Banking has been disabled, due to recent activities on your account, we placed a temporary suspension until you verify your account.”
Once the unsuspecting clients entered their account information, including their email address, the cyber criminals had all their secure information.
Largest Cyber Threat of 2021: Coronavirus Scams
Only one year after the start of the global pandemic, the king of all types of phishing emails is officially the Coronavirus phishing emails and security threats.
These cyber-attacks hyper-focus on one theme: the pandemic. Security experts worldwide agree that the cumulative number of pandemic phishing emails is perhaps the most extensive single collection of themed cyber attacks in history.
Some of the many Coronavirus criminal cyber-attacks include phishing, malicious attachments that grab control of someone’s laptop and files, malware, ransomware, fake websites, and more.
Events leading to a rash of global, recent cyber attacks prove that it takes much more than a password to keep your business or government systems secure. In today’s digital world, governments and businesses must expect security breaches.
Many sophisticated I.T. companies specialize in customer data security and all types of cyber-attacks. The cost of these security services is well worth it since cyber breaches’ threats continue to grow daily in new and shocking ways.
Be sure to work with your I.T. team to discuss any vulnerabilities in your I.T. systems. Educate your workers about the serious impact cyber-attacks may have upon your firm and each employee’s life.
With attention to your internal security, you may ward off cyber breaches. But as cybercrime becomes more and more sophisticated, backed by ingenious A.I. that improves every day, you may need to consider protecting your firm by hiring a cybersecurity company.
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