5 Biggest Website Hacks in recent history

Website hacks

It seems every other day, you hear of a prominent website getting hacked. When will it be your turn?

Many times, government or big corporate websites get hacked for political protest. Other times, hackers do it just for the fun of it. Besides these “noble” pursuits, hackers also hack websites for malicious intent to steal data and personal information.

Here are 5 biggest / most prominent hacks:

1. In 1990 teenager Kevin Poulsen hacked the phone lines of the Kiss FM radio station in Los Angeles to become the 102nd winning caller on the station’s “Win a Porsche By Friday” contest. He also allegedly used his hacking skills to wiretap a Hollywood actress and hack into Army and FBI computers. He was eventually charged by the FBI with a series of fraud and laundering offences and was sentenced to 51 months in prison. Today he works as a journalist for Wired.com.

2. Jonathan James is one of the most famous hackers of all time. In 1999, he broke into military computers at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and intercepted thousands of confidential messages, log-in information, and $1.7 million worth of software that controlled the living environment on the International Space Station. The breach led NASA to shutdown their network for three weeks, costing thousands of dollars in security upgrades. His story has a tragic twist. In 2007 he committed suicide.

3. In 2000 a teenage boy carried out the first major distributed-denial of service attack (DDoS) responsible for crippling some of the internet’s most popular websites. Canadian Michael Calce, 15, made a name for himself with Project Rivolta which took down the website of the £1 search engine at the time – and second-most popular website – Yahoo. He went on to attack the servers of CNN, eBay, Dell, and Amazon. He was ultimately arrested and spent eight months in a juvenile detention centre.

4. Before he became famous for being the hacker that Bradley Manning confessed to over his role in the Wikileaks cables affair, Adrian Lamo was better known for hacking into the servers of companies like the New York Times. Known as “the homeless hacker”, he accessed the New York Times database in 2002, adding himself to the list of Op-Ed writers and spending hours trawling Lexis-Nexis for mentions of himself. He was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay $65,000.

5. In 2008 the group Anonymous gained worldwide press for Project Chanology, an online protest against the Church of Scientology. Accusing the church of internet censorship, after it launched a copyright violation claim against YouTube over a leaked video of Tom Cruise, Anonymous members of Project Chanology organised a series of denial-of-service attacks against Scientology websites, prank calls, and black faxes to Scientology centres. The group later posted a video on YouTube entitled “Message to Scientology,” and a press release declaring a “War on Scientology”. In the press release, the group states that the attacks against the Church of Scientology will continue in order to protect the right to freedom of speech, and end what they believe to be the financial exploitation of church members.

There are many ways for your site to be hacked

Outdated web application: All of the popular scripts (Joomla, wordpress, drupal, phpbb, etc) have security holes, thus they release regular updates and security fixes. You should make sure that you are always using the recent versions of the scripts.

Outdated extensions (themes, plugins, modules, etc.): the same as the above make sure you using the latest stable versions of your themes, plugins, modules, etc.

Weak passwords: The natures of the passwords are to protect some areas of your web sites, control panels, servers, etc. Thus ensure that your passwords contain minimum 10 symbols which are with letters, numbers and special characters.

Virus or the malicious software on the local computer: Some viruses, worms, steal your passwords and grand the unauthorized access to your web sites. Also some of them might inject malicious code in your web site after they have your FTP login details.

Don’t be one of those who end up in the news or worse be like 63% of people who don’t even know they have been hacked. While you can’t prevent hacking entirely, you can surely ensure its continuity in website backup, email back up and database backup at www.dropmysite.com

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Peter Yu
Public Relations Consultant and Guerilla Marketing Entrepreneur, Dropmysite, The iLLers Inc.
Peter Yu

Peter Yu

Public Relations Consultant and Guerilla Marketing Entrepreneur, Dropmysite, The iLLers Inc.

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