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Top Hacks of all Time

Vinit Singh is a computer science student pursuing his B.Tech degree in Bharath Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai, India.

What is Hacking?

Hacking is a process by which a person identifies weaknesses in a computer network or system to exploit the security and to gain access to personal data or business data. For example, A hacker uses a password cracking algorithm to gain access to social media accounts or to gain access to a computer system.

There are instances where many big organization like Apple, Nintendo, PlayStation and Berkshire Hathaway were hacked. Some of these organization were demanded huge amount of money in exchange for not leaking the personal data of the account holders.

Different ways to Hack.

There are mostly five common types of Hacking.

  • Social Engineering & Phishing:- This is a process to get a person to share their personal information by making them trust. It can be done in the form of phishing emails, where the hacker sends you a message that would seem like it's sent by someone you know and then ask to click on a certain link or to click on the download button which is an infected attachment.
  • Malware-Injecting Devices:- Many Cybercriminals use hardware to get into your computer like an infected USB stick which has malware. All it needs for one person to give you a malware-ridden USB stick and then plug it into your system. After the system gets infected, the hackers get remote access to your device.
  • Missing Security Patches:- Some computer users ignore updating their system and security patches and this ignorance will sometimes lead to computer hackers taking control of your system. Not updating your system will make the system vulnerable. Security tools often get outdated and the frequent updates will protect the computer from new threats.
  • Cracking Passwords:- Hackers get your login credentials through a number of means but commonly they get it through keylogging or through password cracking programmes which they run and get the password in a matter of minutes. Sometimes the hackers make you download software that records all the keystrokes thus saving your usernames and passwords.
  • Distributed Denial of Service(DDoS):- Many larger business can get hit by a distributed denial of service. In this technique, the hackers aim to take down a website by inundating the server with large influxes of traffic. This traffic is so high that it overloads the server by giving it more than it can handle.

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A 16-year-old teen, who can't be named for legal reasons allegedly, was able to hack into Apple's private servers and download over 90 GB of private information. There is no information on what files he accessed. This kid managed to break through the most secured Apple's security to access the company's internal file systems over the course of a year. Apple then eventually caught up and blocked his access after he used his skill and expertise to forge a fake digital signature that was able to bypass the security measures and made his way through and download the information. Australian police seized two computers that belonged to him and found the downloaded files in a folder called hacky hack hack.

It is also said that the teen was a big admirer of the US company and hacked into Apple because he wanted to impress Apple and he thought that the company would offer him a job. Although the teenager faced criminal charges for his actions

Play Station Network Hack

In 2011, Play station was hacked and the personal details of 77 million users were compromised. PlayStation users were prevented from using PlayStation 3 and Play Station portable. The Play Station Network Outage or also known as the PSN hack was the result of external intrusion on sony's Playstation Network and services of Qriocity. This outage lasted for 23 days and Sony released the PlayStation firmware version as a security patch and this firmware asked its users to change their passwords. This was the biggest data breaches surpassing the 2007 TJX hack which affected 45 million customers. During the outage, the company had to shutdown and because of this sony approximately lost 171 million dollars. The attacks on the company occurred between April 17 and April 19, 2011.

Mellisa virus

For the first time, when Mellisa was created in 1999 by an idle American programmer, people realized that their computer was not safe. Mellisa was the first computer virus that was created. David L.smith was the man who created the virus as a simple Microsoft word program and after creating the virus he sent it to many unsuspecting recipients and then the virus resent itself to the first 50 people from the infected computers. This virus mainly targeted Microsoft word and outlook and other mailing services. Mellisa has already compromised 20 per cent of the world's computer.

Many companies like Intel and Microsoft were forced to shut down all their services until the problem could be solved. David L.smith was accused and arrested for almost causing damage of 80 million dollars by disrupting computer networks and personal computers.

Department of Defense Hack

Jonathan Joseph James, a 15-year-old with a PC hacked into NASA in 1999. Jonathan used his skills as a hacker to intercept data from the US Department of Defense. He almost had access to 3000 messages, usernames, passwords and source code of life support in the International Space Station (ISS). NASA was forced to shut down for almost three weeks and the cost estimated to solve the problem was 41,000 dollars.

Jonathan James a grey hat ethical hacker was sentenced when he was 16 years old. On September 21, 2000, he entered into an agreement with the US attorney in exchange for a lenient sentence. He was house arrested and was banned from using a computer for recreational purposes. On May 18, 2008, he was found dead in his shower with a self-inflicted gunshot wound on his head.


Stuxnet is a computer worm that was first discovered in 2010. This worm was originally aimed at Iran's nuclear facility and from then the worm has mutated and had targeted the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) which is used to process automated machines. It became big media attention because it was the first computer virus that affected the computer's hardware and also it appeared to be made by the US National Security Agency and the Israeli Intelligence.

Stuxnet was a multi-program worm that destroyed many centrifuges in Iran's uranium enrichment facility by burning themselves out. This also affected the water treatment plants, power plants and gas lines. Stuxnet travelled through USB sticks and spread through Microsoft Windows. This worm search for the PLCs which controlled and monitored electro-mechanical equipment and after finding a PLC computer the virus attack updated the code and began sending damage-including instructions to the PC. At the same time, the worm sends fake feedback to the main PC controller. This led to believe everyone that there is no problem with the machine until it self-destructs.

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