Malware is short for “Malicious software is a software designed with an ill-intention of causing harm to a computer or a server. A “malware attack” is a cyber-crime in which the cyber-criminal installs a malicious software to a victim’s computer. Mostly the intentions behind these are to gain personal information of the victim or for financial gain. Dangerous pop-ups, suspicious links, etc are some of the ways cyber-criminals use to carry out their attacks.
Here, we look at some of the 5 most devastating malware attacks of all time.
- MafiaBoy :
In 2000, Michael Calce, aka MafiaBoy a teenager in Canada caused “unintentional” trouble in cyber space when he unleashed a DDoS attack on in-numerous famous websites like Amazon, CNN, eBay and Yahoo!. He claimed he unknowingly input several IP addresses into a security tool he had downloaded from the internet. This caused collapse of Yahoo! probably the most widely used search engine used at that time. Also resulted in shutting down of other sites like eBay, CNN, amazon for several hours. Apprehended for being only a juvenile, he was given a sentence of eight months and had his movement monitored constantly and his internet presence became limited.
2.Jonathon James hacks US Defense Department and NASA:
Yet another teenager on the list, a 15 year old teenager, Jonathon James, in the year 1999 hacked into NASA and the US department of Defense. He gained access to confidential information containing usernames and passwords for various military purposes, and softwares designed for space exploration.
It cost NASA millions of dollars as they had to shut down their entire network for 3 weeks.
A lighter sentence was announced after arresting Johnathon as he was a teenager. Tragically he ended his life in 2008 due to accusations of him conspiring and stealing credit card passwords with other hackers, which he denied in his suicide note.
This malware attack was definitely going to make the list as many of us already know about it as it broke the internet a few years ago. One might think that the release of a film might be a cause for a major cyber-crime , and as unbelievable it sounds, that is what US Authorities believe. “The Interview” a comedy film starring James Franco and Seth Rogen whose plot revolves around the assassination of North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un. A group known as
“Guardians of Peace” took responsibility for this and one of their demands was cancellation of the movie. They released confidential data like executive salaries, Hollywood celebrities’ phone numbers and even unreleased SONY films.
Regarded as one of the most notorious ransomware attacks in history by researchers, WannaCry ransomware targeted systems through a weakness in Windows known as EternalBlue. Said to have affected tens of thousands of users in over 100 countries, what exactly did the WannaCry ransomware do? All it did was gain access to the system and lock your files and demanded 300 USD to let you gain access again. It affected several organizations, and hospitals as well, and many hospitals had to cancel outpatient appointments. Microsoft has released a patch for EternalBlue.
Regarded as the most dangerous worm attacks in recent history, Stuxnet had the ability to travel through USB sticks and manifest on Windows computers. The Stuxnet worm was first discovered in 2010 and was it looking to shutdown? Simple , the centrifuges that that spin
the nuclear material at Iran’s enrichment facilities.
A weapon, made not from metal or gunpowder, but entirely CODE. Iran reportedly shut down the working at their Bushehr Nuclear facility for weeks. Countries like Israel and US have been pointed fingers at for being behind the Stuxnet worm. The mobile phone company has also been blamed , but there is no evidence beyond rumors.
NotPetya or ExPetr unlike another addition on this list, WannaCry, a Malware attack and not a Ransomware sharing a common principle, moved around the web, exploiting EternalBlue and EternalRomance and encrypting files on infected computers. It’s motive was not to make money , it was just to cause destruction to the data on a PC. Just like WannaCry , NotPetya’s target was mainly businesses mostly from Europe,US and Asia.
According to reports the NotPetya malware-attack is estimated at $10 billion, compared to WannaCry’s $5-$8billion and is hence considered as the costliest malware attack OF ALL TIME. To protect yourself from NotPetya install the Microsoft updates on your computer and creating a “perf.dat” file in the Windows folder with “Read-Only” mode.
This Malware attack has a very interesting secret behind it’s name.Named after a stripper, by Smith in Florida. It targeted victims’ Microsoft Word program, and it would hijack their Microsoft Outlook email-IDs and forward itself to 50 contacts in their mailing lists. The recipients would receive virus-laden attachment which alluring names such as “sexxxy.jpg” or “here is the document you requested….Don’t show to anyone else ;-)”.
And obviously by using such tactics it spread like wildfire when it was released in March 1999. The intention behind the virus wasn’t to steal money or data, but just to wreck havoc and that, it did. It resulted in shutting down of innumerous servers of business giants including one at Microsoft. Arrested in New Jersery on April 1,1999 with a sentence of upto 20 months and a fine of $5000 after pleading guilty in May 2002.
“ILOVEYOU” the three words are enough to gain anyone’s attentio. Onel De Guzman , Undergraduate student from Philippenes used as his strategy.
So what did this malware do exactly and how did it spread? Simple, it came with an email with the subject as “ILOVEYOU” and with an attachment which upon opening forwarded the email to other contacts. The malware erased every media file such as MP3,PEG, MP3, CSS, WSH, SCT and HTA.on the recipient’s hard drive. It reset the victim’s Window registry settings and opened the browser in an unpleasant manner. It spread itself through Internet Chat relays.
The ILOVEYOU or “love letter worm” affected around 500,000 computers in 2000 causing an estimated damage of around $15 billion USD.
- Firstly, install an anti-virus on your computer.
- And if you already have one, keep it updated. Those updates from Microsoft for Windows? Keep downloading them.
- Think twice before clicking on suspicious links.
- Run anti-virus scans regularly.
- Have a back up of your files.
- Use strong passwords.