From Captain Crunch to Stuxnet: Five Hacks That Are Totally Insane

by June 1, 2016 0 comments

NEW DELHI, INDIA: In the early 70s John Draper made a long-distance call for free by blowing a precise tone into a telephone which opened the phone system’s line. He had discovered the whistle in a box of children’s cereal. Draper, later went on to add the handle “Captain Crunch,” and was arrested repeatedly for phone tampering throughout the 1970s. Thus, the first hack was initiated.

At the same time two members of California’s Homebrew Computer Club were making “blue boxes,” – a device used to hack into the phone system. The members, who adopted handles were ” Oaf Tobar” (Steve Jobs) and “Berkeley Blue” (Steve Wozniak), who later founded Apple Computer. Incidentally, Draper aka “Captain Crunch” later met Jobs and Wozniack and even taught the latter how to call overseas using a blue box.

In the initial years hacking tips were shared through newsletters or weekly meetings. But now, in this digital era, hacking info and tricks of the trade are easily available online and hackers have enough tools. They learn on the internet only to hack it back later.  Internet in short has turned into a testing ground were members evolve and to increase their cred on the dark web they target big multinationals to government departments.

Through this article we will examine some of the most sophisticated cyber-attacks which have happened so far.

Stuxnet

Discovered in 2010, this malicious software was a Microsoft Windows worm that was specifically designed to infect Siemens industrial controllers. This first of its kind malware compromised Iranian PLCs, collecting information on industrial systems and causing the fast-spinning centrifuges to tear themselves apart. Known to be developed jointly by the United States and Israel, it specifically disrupted the operations of Siemens centrifuges in nuclear power plants, making them spin at uneven speeds and hide that from their operators.

Stuxnet reportedly ruined almost one-fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges.

F-35 Fighter Jet Blueprints

A confidential report prepared for the Pentagon has indicated that Chinese cyber criminals have breached design files for over two dozen critical weapons systems, including critical missile defense programs. Ironically, the data hadn’t been stolen from a military computer but from a company that was hired to help design and build the aircraft. In the end it turned out that it was Lockheed Martin’s network that was breached and this was not the first time and it had been breached repeatedly in the past as well.

Spamhaus DDOS

Spamhaus is one of the world’s largest anti-spam services, blocking huge amounts of unsolicited emails from all over the world. When Cyberbunker, an Amsterdam-based hosting provider, discovered their emails blacklisted, they struck back with one of the largest distributed denial of service attacks the Internet had ever seen. The traffic reached an astonishing 300 GB per second, causing a ripple effect that lagged connections all over Europe. Cyberbunker leader Sven Olaf Kamphuis was the alleged mastermind behind this attack. Internet security company CloudFlare claimed that this attack “almost broke the internet”, plunging the world into digital darkness.

Conficker

Conficker is a computer worm targeting the Microsoft Windows operating system that was first detected in November 2008. It uses flaws in Windows OS software and dictionary attacks on administrator passwords to circulate while forming a botnet. It has been unusually difficult to counter because of its combined use of many advanced malware techniques. It infected millions of computers including government, business and home computers in over 190 countries, making it the largest known computer worm infection since the 2003 Welchia.

Interestingly, tech security professionals still have no clue as to who is behind it.

Operation Get Rich

Between 2005 and 2007, Alberto Gonzalez and his crew used SQL injections to steal 170 million ATM and credit card numbers from major retailers like TJ Maxx, DSW and Dave & Buster’s. The numbers were then sold at auction, netting Gonzalez a tremendous profit. This venture was one of the largest sustained identity theft operations of all time, but ended up getting him 20 years in jail.

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