What we learned from the 5 largest hacker attacks of 2014

    Summing up the results of last year, it will not be superfluous to mention the most large-scale hacker attacks, which affected tens of millions of network users. Now we will look at a brief history of each of the hacks and find out what they taught us.

    The largest data theft from the bank

    Last summer, hackers took possession of 83 million customers of a major US bank, JPMorgan Chase. The hacking was accused of two Russian hackers who were rumored to have ties to the government. Despite the fact that hackers did not get the most valuable thing - passwords and account numbers, theoretically they had the opportunity to identify themselves as bank customers. According to experts, the attack was carried out with the aim of selling confidential data to third parties who could later use it for difficult to recognize forms of phishing attacks.

    What this attack taught us:

    • even the most secure bank cannot provide 100% security of personal data.

    Gmail, eBay and Dropbox password theft

    At the end of May 2014, the famous eBay online auction announced that a few months earlier, attackers gained access to the company’s corporate network and stole user email addresses and passwords. All passwords were encrypted, but fearing that encryption keys might also be stolen, eBay asked users to change their credentials.

    On September 10, a database of 5 million passwords from Gmail mailboxes appeared on the Internet. As it turned out later, the Gmail service itself was not hacked: only a database was created from passwords from other services. As stated by users, most of the passwords were either old or they never used them. A similar situation happened with Dropbox. This time, hackers claimed that they had stolen more than 7 million passwords, although in fact it turned out again that no one had cracked the service, and the passwords were obtained from phishing attacks from third-party resources. This time there were much more active passwords, so it’s already difficult to call it simple fun, because many users have banking details tied to hacked services.

    What this attack taught us:

    • You cannot use the same password for different services;
    • if possible, do not link bank details to accounts on sites;
    • change passwords periodically.

    Three Snapchat hacks in a year

    Last year, the popular instant messenger Snapchat immediately suffered three hacker attacks. The first attack took place on the eve of 2014, when millions of mobile phones and user addresses were posted on the Internet. Shortly before this, Gibson Security announced a potential vulnerability in Snapchat, but the messenger did not take the necessary measures to fix this problem. According to hackers, the attack was made in order to indicate to the service that they were insecure.

    The second Snapchat attack took place in mid-February 2014. Hackers staged mass mailing of fruit smoothie recipes from user friends' accounts, while gaining access to many combinations of passwords and email addresses. Fortunately, the hack turned out to be harmless, and they quickly forgot about it, however, only until October of that year. Then about 100 thousand user photos got to the Internet, which should have been automatically deleted by the application. The blame was the SnapSaved web client, which allowed users to save photos, but in fact saved them to their own server.

    What this attack taught us:

    • Do not use hacked applications, if this happened once, it is likely to happen in another;
    • Do not use third-party applications that require binding to your accounts on services with personal data;
    • nothing disappears without a trace on the Internet, disappeared photos and other files are just an illusion;
    • change the password from time to time.

    DDoS attacks on Evernote and Feedly

    DDoS attacks that could disable large services were a frequent occurrence in 2014. But, perhaps, the most memorable case was when hackers froze the popular Evernote note service and feed aggregator from June 11 to 13, demanding from the latter also a large ransom for DDoS to cease its effect. The developers did not agree to the condition, and after a few days the services started working again.

    What this attack taught us:

    • Do not use only one online service, it may fail at any time;
    • even the largest and most secure service is not immune from DDoS attacks.

    North Korean hackers attack Sony Pictures Entertaiment

    On November 24, the North Korean hacker group Guardians of Peace uploaded data on Sony Pictures Entertainment film studio to the Internet. Their correspondence, salaries of directors and top managers, as well as secret information about officially unannounced films were displayed for public display. After that, hackers even threatened the studios with a terrorist attack if the scandalous American comedy “Interview” appeared on the screens, which tells about the assassination attempt on the head of the DPRK, Kim Jong-un. US President Barack Obama blamed North Korean authorities for hacking, who themselves denied this fact. And the attack would indeed succeed; Sony Pictures even temporarily canceled the premiere of the film. It’s only after the American president’s statement that the shooting of the film was a mistake, he still came out on the big screens, however,

    What this attack taught us:

    • take the threats of terrorist attacks and hacker attacks of any countries seriously.

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