This world has reached a phase where it is almost impossible to imagine it without the internet. The internet has become a crucial and inseparable part of people’s life. It has made its way into almost every sphere of the modern society, be it industries, schools, or even governmental agencies. But as every coin has two faces, this age of information technology brought with it a new category of crimes which were previously unheard of. These are nothing but Cyber Crimes, a series of lucrative felonies which are mainly a result of the massive pool of sensitive and secretive information that the internet holds. In the history of the internet, the world has witnessed several such cases of cyber crimes and hacking, and today we bring you the details of a few of the top cyber theft cases.
The Cyber attack by Russian Hackers in 2015-
This cyber theft came to light in February 2015 and it said that a gang of Russian hackers spent two years coordinating this one. They infiltrated more than 100 financial institutions using an illegal malware. The banks that took the hit were not only Russians but also from USA, UK and even Japan. It is estimated that the gang stole more than $840 million (almost 5.5 thousand crore rupees!) from the banks around the globe, without moving an inch.
Their method included Money impersonating staff members online and funneling cash into a number of dummy accounts. Even after penetrating bank’s computer systems, these hackers lurked for around two to four months before clearing their way through, like changing account balance of accounts and transferring the excess funds into their own accounts safely. The level of audacity they had was such that they programmed the ATMs across the globe to spew cash at pre-planned times and always had one of their “henchmen” standing around to collect it. No doubt, this was one of the most tactful and sophisticated cyber attacks the world has seen to date, and hence the most vicious too.
The Iceman’s Attack of 2006-
This superhero-ish alias was used by Max Vision, a former computer security researcher from San Francisco who turned into a professional black hat hacker. In 2006, he sat on a two-night hack fest and sharpened his knives on the online carder forums where the then hackers and fraudsters used to buy and sell stolen data, fake IDs, and other specialized underground services.
After he was done hacking and wiping out the databases, he copied all the content and membership into his own site, CardersMarket, thus turning it into the largest criminal marketplace on the internet (with nearly 6,000 members). However, this massive development caught the attention of the FBI and Secret Service, and Iceman was arrested. But he had already done a lot of damage till then by stealing more than 2 million credit cards that had totaled up to around $86 million of fraudulent cash.
Also one of the world’s greatest cybercrime, this one shook the Wall Street to the core and showcased its vulnerabilities to the world. The hack was held by a total of four Russians with the help of a Ukrainian named Mikhail Rytikov, who initially targeted large retailers such as 7–Eleven Inc., Carrefour SA, and eventually reached for financial corporation Nasdaq. On their way, they infiltrated some of the world’s biggest financial institutions, like Citibank, PNC Bank, Heartland Payment Systems, JCPenney, Hannaford Brothers, etc.
Their execution was simple yet genius, some specially designed sniffer programs which gave the hackers credit card information when it was processed between companies. The gang traded text strings which exploited SQL-injection vulnerabilities in the victim companies’ websites to obtain the sensitive data, like the login credentials etc. A malware was then installed to give them persistent backdoor access to the networks.
It has been found that this hacker gang was able to get its hands on more than 160 million credit card numbers which resulted in a total loss of around $300 million (around 2000 crore rupees!).
“Operation Get Rich or Die Tryin’” in 2008-
The filmy name is what he called it, and a hero was what he considered himself. 28-year-old Albert “Segvec” Gonzalez and his accomplices staged one of the greatest thefts in America and Russia, stealing credit and debit card magstripe data for sale on the black market. They used the techniques of Wi-Fi hacking and SQL injection, and robbed companies like 7-Eleven, Dave & Buster’s, Office Max, TJX, Heartland Payment Systems, leading to an acquirement of more than 170 million cards.
Gonzalez became a millionaire and did a damage of more than $200 million to the American economy. Though he was finally arrested and was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment, longest U.S. prison term for hacking, this case is one of the best examples of the severity of Cyber thefts in the modern era.
So, these were some of the top cyber theft cases that have happened in the last decade, which clearly prove that though the internet has made our lives easier, the cyber world is full of threats at every step of the path. Remember, cyber attacks can happen to anyone and the only way to be secure is to always be aware and alert, and to keep a close eye on one’s bank accounts and transactions, not even ignoring slightest of inconsistencies in the transactions. Like it is said, “One should learn from experience”, it’s time that we learn from the above incidents and try to be out of the harm’s way.