Today, we delve into the top 10 computer hacks of all time, uncovering the most significant and impactful cyber attacks in history. Let’s dive right in.

10. Estonia Cyber Attacks (April 27, 2007)

In 2007, Estonia faced a barrage of cyber attacks following the government’s decision to relocate the Bronze Soldier statue from the center of Tallinn to a military cemetery. This decision triggered unprecedented levels of internet traffic, overwhelming and taking down online services of banks, media outlets, broadcasters, and government bodies. Botnets launched massive waves of spam and automated online requests, resulting in widespread DDoS attacks. Although unconfirmed, Russia was widely believed to be behind the attacks that crippled Estonian society.

9. Ukraine Power Grid Attack (December 23, 2015)

On December 23, 2015, parts of Ukraine experienced a major power outage caused by a cyber attack on the information systems of three energy distribution companies. Hackers compromised these systems via phishing emails, leading to the shutdown of 30 substations and leaving 230,000 people without power for up to six hours. U.S. investigators attributed the attack to Russia-based hackers, raising concerns about the vulnerability of power grids worldwide.

8. NASA Shutdown (1999)

In 1999, a 15-year-old hacker named Jonathan James caused a 21-day shutdown of NASA computers. James infiltrated the U.S. Department of Defense’s computer systems, installed a backdoor, and intercepted over a thousand government emails. This breach enabled him to steal a piece of NASA software, disrupting operations and costing the space agency $41,000. James was the first individual to hack into NASA’s systems.

7. Sony Pictures Hack (November 2014)

In late 2014, Sony Pictures suffered a massive data breach, with hackers leaking confidential information including employee emails, unreleased films, and future projects. The hacker group Guardians of Peace demanded Sony withdraw its upcoming movie “The Interview,” a comedy about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Sony canceled the theatrical release due to threats, and U.S. intelligence later suggested a link to North Korea, though the country denied involvement.

6. TJX Data Breach (December 2006)

TJX, a U.S. retailer, discovered in December 2006 that 45.6 million debit and credit card details had been stolen over 18 months. Hackers, led by Albert Gonzalez, exploited weak web encryption at two Miami Marshall stores to access and steal personal data. This breach forced banks to reissue and block thousands of payment cards.

5. Stuxnet Worm (2010)

The Stuxnet worm, discovered in 2010, targeted Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. This sophisticated malware infected over 200,000 computers and 14 industrial sites, including a uranium enrichment plant. Designed to damage hardware, Stuxnet severely compromised Iran’s nuclear capabilities. It is widely believed to be a cyber weapon created by U.S. and Israeli intelligence, though neither country has officially acknowledged this.

4. Home Depot Breach (2014)

From April to September 2014, Home Depot experienced a cyber attack that compromised 56 million payment cards and 53 million customer email addresses. Attackers used a third-party vendor’s credentials to infiltrate Home Depot’s network and deploy malware on its self-checkout systems in the U.S. and Canada.

3. PlayStation Network Outage (April 2011)

In April 2011, Sony’s PlayStation Network was compromised, affecting 77 million user accounts and forcing Sony to shut down the network for 23 days. The breach exposed personal information and cost Sony approximately $170 million to enhance security, investigate the attack, and support affected users.

2. WannaCry Ransomware (May 2017)

The WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017 infected over 200,000 computers across 150 countries in a single day. The crypto worm exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft’s SMB protocol, locking users out of their systems and demanding a ransom of $300 to $600 in Bitcoin. The attack caused billions of dollars in damage and was eventually halted by emergency patches and the discovery of a kill switch. North Korea was suspected to be behind the attack.

1. Melissa Virus (March 1999)

In March 1999, the Melissa virus wreaked havoc by targeting Microsoft Word and Outlook systems. It spread through email, masquerading as an important message. Once opened, the virus mass-mailed itself to the first 50 contacts in the victim’s address book, causing widespread disruption. Created by David L. Smith, the virus caused $80 million in damages, overloaded email servers, and slowed internet traffic globally.

These monumental cyber attacks have left indelible marks on the digital landscape, highlighting the importance of robust cybersecurity measures. Stay informed and vigilant to protect against the ever-evolving threat of cyber attacks.

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