Today’s fiercest wars are fought not on the battlefield, but in cyberspace. People forget that the internet was born as a piece of military hardware, and since that day there have always been people who use it as a weapon. From the very beginning, there have been hackers; individuals who understand how to manipulate computer code in order to bend the internet to their whim. Sometimes, these hackers are motivated by greed, hacking into banks and stealing credit card numbers and other financial information. Sometimes they are motivated by political desires, seeking to destabilize rival governments and expose corrupt politicians. Sometimes they are motivated by fame; seeking to cement their names in history as one of the best hackers of all time. And sometimes, well sometimes they just want to play hilarious pranks on people.
Hackers have the ability to change the world as we know it. We are spiralling into an era where everything is connected to the internet, from nuclear weapon silos and CIA mainframes to fridges and coffee machines. The level of control hackers have over our planet is frightening. More and more people are becoming familiar with computer code every day, especially young people. There are some schools that teach very young children about computer code, in the same way that they’d learn how to speak French or another second language. In the end, we have to accept that these people will always be 10 steps ahead of the authorities that are trying to chase them, and we pretty much just have to sit back and hope they don’t blow up the world as a joke.
15. The First Guy To Hack Into ATMs
How cool would it be if you could walk up to an ATM, hack into it, and just get it to start spitting out hundred dollar bills? Well, a guy named Alberto Gonzalez had the same idea, and he went down in history as one of the best hackers ever. His hacking skill allowed him to install backdoors into corporate websites, and steal over 1.5 million credit card numbers and debit card information. He formed a hacking group called “Shadowcrew,” and sold stolen credit card information, and provided people with tutorials on how to steal the information themselves. The group also sold counterfeit passports, medical cards, and even birth certificates.
He was arrested after the group had stolen almost 4.5 million dollars, but avoided jail time by providing the FBI with information on the rest of Shadowgroup. 19 Shadowgroup members were arrested, but Alberto walked free. Then, while he was in the process of providing more information the FBI, Alberto continued his life of crime in secret. He worked with a number of other hackers to steal over 45 million credit card numbers from TJX companies. He was eventually arrested in a hotel room in Florida with over 1.5 million dollars in cash. He went straight to jail this time, and is scheduled for release in 2025.
14. The Time A Teenager Hacked Into The Space Station
Jonathan James set the bar pretty high when he hacked into the international space station, and I’m not sure anyone will ever beat this amazing feat of computer crime. What made it even more impressive was that Jonathan was only 16 when he started commiting these crimes. First, he installed a backdoor in a computer server that then acted as a “sniffer,” intercepting thousands of messages sent back and forth between high ranking US Department of Defense officials. These messages contained passwords and usernames that Jonathan then used to hack into the Department of Defense, and then into NASA’s computer systems that regulated the life support systems for the astronauts inside. NASA had to shut down these computers and check them over, costing around $40,000.
Jonathan James was arrested, but didn’t go to jail because he was a minor. After Alberto Gonzalez hacked into TJX Companies, Jonathan James was suspected to be involved. No concrete proof was ever found linking him to the TJX hack, but an unknown hacker was working with Alberto that went by the initials “J.J.” At the time of this investigation, Jonathan James shot himself in the head and died at age 25.
13. How To Win A Porsche By Hacking
You don’t have to be rich to own a shiny new Porsche, you just need to be good at hacking. That’s what was going through Kevin Poulsen’s mind when he heard that KIIS-FM, a radio station in L.A., was giving away a Porsche to the 102nd caller. What he did was take over all of the phone lines trying to call the radio station at the time of the contest, making it impossible for anyone else to win, and ensuring that he would be the owner of a brand new Porsche. When the FBI started investigating who had done this, he laid low for months. NBC even aired an episode of Unsolved Mysteries that focused on this crime, and when the episode first aired no one was able to call their 1-800 numbers because their phone lines had all crashed. He was finally arrested and did 5 years at a federal penitentiary. When he was released, he went straight, and now works as a journalist for Wired Magazine.
12. Hillary Clinton’s Emails Get Hacked
By now you’ve probably heard about Hillary Clinton’s email troubles. Basically she didn’t use a secure email server, and instead used a private email service that could be accessed by pretty much anyone. The login page to her private email could be stumbled upon by just about anyone who was surfing the web. This wouldn’t be a big deal if she was using this private email service to talk to her family and friends, but the fact is that she was actually using it to conduct official government business when she was acting as a the Secretary of State. Now we all know that she got off the hook on this one, and the F.B.I determined she was innocent. But one of the hackers that claimed to have hacked her emails, a Romanian hacker that goes by the alias “Guccifer,” had some interesting things to say. First of all, he claimed that he was monitoring her email and many other hackers were watching her, as many as 10 separate IP addresses, he said.
Today, The F.B.I say that Guccifer is lying about everything. Even if that’s true, could other hackers have accessed her email? When you consider the fact that she was walking around in countries that are enemies of the United States, using her mobile phone to check emails and on a local Wi-Fi server, it seems pretty doubtful that hackers in these countries would not have taken advantage of this situation. In fact, Hillary even shut down her own email service several times after hackers continuously tried to access it, although she never reported these incidents. Guccifer must have been successful to some degree, because he posted some of Hillary’s emails and private family photos to the internet as proof. Even though the official story is that sensitive files on Hillary Clinton’s email were never accessed, there is no doubt that her emails were accessible to anyone with even an ounce of hacking skill, even if there is no known proof of secret information ever being stolen. That said, the Russian government supposedly has all of Guccifer’s files that he stole from Hillary, and they’re debating whether or not to release them to the public.
11. The Time The U.S. Military Got Completely Hacked
Gary Mckinnon is known as the mastermind behind what is known in the online community as one of the most impressive hacks in history. He completely demolished and infiltrated the entire United States Military, including NASA. The Scottish hacker known in cyberspace as “Solo” infiltrated over 2,000 military computers and left the following message after 9/11 on the military mainframe: “US foreign policy is akin to Government-sponsored terrorism these days … It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11 last year … I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels … ” Among the computers he disrupted were NASA servers and Naval computers, which resulted in the Atlantic fleet not receiving needed ammunition for days. Mckinnon’s interest seems to have been primarily in NASA’s supposed suppression of alien contact, UFO’s, and Free Energy technology, although the FBI claims he was using this excuse to hide his more malicious intent of disrupting the US Military. He avoided extradition to the US from Scotland, and is serving a sentence in the U.K, despite the US’s efforts to bring him to America for incarceration.
10. Hacked By A 16-Year-Old
A New Zealand teen by the name of Owen Thor Walker took the world by storm when he started hacking into pretty much any computer he wanted, and he seemed to love every minute of it, even after he was finally arrested. When he started hacking he was only 17, making him one of the youngest hackers to cause considerable damage on such a huge scale. Despite his young age, Owen Walker emerged as the leader of a hacking network, writing a code sequence that allowed him and his group to hack into more than 1.3 million computers and steal more than 20 million dollars by obtaining credit card and banking information. Because he was a “juvenile delinquent,” he was never convicted. He only made $32,000, as he merely wrote the code, and didn’t actually use it. Amazingly, he only had to pay back $11,000 of that $32,000. At age 25, he now works as a security adviser for various companies.
9. When Hackers Almost Caused World War 3
Matthew Bevan and Richard Pryce, also known by their hacker alias’ “kuji” and “datastream cowboy” formed a hacking duo that in the words of Special Agent Jim Christy, “nearly started a third world war.” First, Matthew Bevan hacked into several US Airforce computers, including those belonging to defense manufacturer Lockheed, stealing several sensitive files and military secrets. His goal was to prove a massive UFO cover up conspiracy by the United States. Matthew Bevan was then arrested, and while military investigators were scrambling to figure out how they had been hacked, Matthew’s online ally Richard Pryce took over. Richard Pryce was 16 at the time. Altogether, the two managed to hack into several facilities all over the world, including a nuclear facility in Korea. Information from this facility was copied and dumped into US military computers. If the facility had been North Korean, this would have been seen by the North Koreans as an act of war by the United States military. Luckily, it was a South Korean facility.
8. When Carolina News 14 Got Completely Hacked
One of the funniest hacking stories was when internet-based tricksters completely took over the News 14 Carolina TV channel. It all started when the news channel decided to do something that seemed like a cool idea at first, but in retrospect proved to be incredibly stupid. They allowed people on the web to control headlines at the bottom of the screen. This was supposed to be a way of letting business owners tell viewers when their stores were closing and opening, but obviously that’s not what it was used for. When the online community found out about this, they went wild. Soon, obviously fake stores like “Bill’s Cockring Emporium” announced that they were closing soon. Other examples of fake businesses include the “Sausage Factory,” which was “operating under code red, ” and “B. Lo Mi Dry Cleaning.” Technically, this isn’t really “hacking” per say, because it was actually incredibly easy for people to write whatever they wanted all over News 14 Carolina. This was due to the fact that there was no system that approved the headlines, or scanned for inappropriate content. As soon as they wrote the their headlines, they went up on the news channel instantly, much to the laughter of viewers all around the world.
7. The Guy That Hacked All Of The Banks
Max Ray ‘Iceman’ Butler is name that has become synonymous with hacking. This man stole more than any bank robber ever could, and he did it all from the safety of his keyboard. He first worked as a security consultant, but it didn’t take Max long before he went to the dark side. While he was trying to fix a security breach, he couldn’t help himself and installed a back door. The F.B.I. immediately spotted this, and he was employed to work for them as an informant, gathering intelligence on other hackers.
But when he was attending a hacking convention, he realized he could never again force himself to work for the F.B.I, against his hacking friends. When he refused to do any more work for the Feds, he was put in jail for 18 months. Upon his release, he embarked on the one of the biggest hacking sprees in history. He used Wi-Fi networks so he couldn’t be traced, and began installing Trojan Horse viruses in various banks, although Citibank suffered the most at his hands. He stole credit card info and PIN’s, distributing them to other hackers who sold them. In 2007 he was arrested for allegedly operating the infamous “carder’s market,” a black market website where stolen credit card info was bought and sold. He had spent over 86 million dollars in fraudulent purchases with this stolen information.
“Lulzsec” was probably one of the most famous hacking groups today, and unlike “Anonymous” they did not pretend to be a force for good, they striked randomly, and their main reason for hacking was for the “lulz.” Composed of just 7 members, many of them extremely young, at its heyday this group wreaked havoc on the entire world, often with hilarious results. They started off by hacking into the Fox News website, releasing ATM info, and posting fake news stories on PBS.com about Tupac and Biggie being still alive in New Zealand. Members of the group have also claimed responsibility for the massive hack of Sony. Then, in one of their most priceless attacks ever, they hacked into the adult film website “pron.com,” releasing emails of people who had subscribed to the websites. Several of these emails were owned by government officials and members of the US military.
At this point President Obama declared that hacking was an act of war. They responded by hacking into an FBI-affiliated website and leaving messages taunting the organization. Then they launched a massive “ddos” attack on the CIA website, shutting it down completely. At this point, members started to get arrested and Lulzsec prepared for one final mega-hack before the group retired completely. In June 2011, they dumped a massive amount of hacked information. Included was 750,000 password and username combinations from various sites such as the online NATO bookshop, classified information from IBM, AT&T, Sony, and other websites, and screenshots from inside the US Navy’s website. After retiring, the group got together once more to hack into news websites of “The Sun” and “The Times,” posting a fake news story saying that Rupert Murdoch (the guy who owns both of these news companies) was dead. The page is posted above.
5. The Syrian Electronic Army
The Syrian Electronic Army is a mysterious group based out of, you guessed it, Syria. This group of cyber warriors is loyal to Bashar Assad, and believe it or not they’re actually a force to be reckoned with. This group proves that even a small, economically struggling nation embroiled in a war on all fronts can field significant firepower, even if it’s strictly based in cyberspace. Their past feats include hacking Obama’s Twitter account, and making him tweet all kinds of crazy things, confusing many people and causing much mayhem. However, their most famous accomplishment was hacking into the Twitter feed of the Associated Press. They then made this credible news source tweet that there had just been two explosions in the white house, and that Obama had been injured. This just goes to show that cyber warfare really levels the playing fields between superpowers like the U.S.A and tiny nations like Syria, allowing third world countries to “injure” the U.S. president (or at least convince people that it happened).
4. These Three Teenagers Virtually Hacked The Planet
Way back in the early 90s, the internet was extremely new, and cyber security was virtually non-existent, even for facilities like nuclear weapons facilities and defense networks. Three teenage hackers, known collectively as “The Realm,” took advantage of this and completely infiltrated everything the US government didn’t want them to see. The most prolific hacker of the group was known as “Phoenix,” and when the group was at its peak he said, “…I’m getting to the point now where I can get into almost any system on the Internet. I’ve virtually raped the Internet beyond belief.” He stole information from Universities and other research facilities that helped him to understand the vulnerabilities of computers. Then he hacked into several facilities, including NASA, where he altered the data in their systems and obstructed the organization from working. They were eventually traced and caught by the Australian police, and it was found out that it was only three young Australian boys who were behind the whole thing. It was one of the first times in history people were charged with computer crimes.
3. When High School Stoners Hacked The CIA’s Emails
It’s embarrassing enough when you’re the head of the CIA and your email gets hacked. But when you find out that the people behind it were two high school stoners? Well that’s just downright shameful. That’s what happened to CIA director John Brennan in 2015, after the hacking duo known as “CWA” (crackas with attitude) tricked Verizon into giving them his email login information. They also claimed responsibility for hacking into the email account of Jeh Johnson. As evidence for their accomplishments, they posted photos found inside the email accounts, as well as information on dozens of US intelligence officials, and a government letter describing interrogation techniques on terrorist suspects. Months later, they hacked into the email and Verizon account of James Clapper, the head of the Department of National Intelligence. After they gained control of this account, they changed his phone settings so that calls made to his house would be forwarded to the “Free Palestine Movement” instead. Although these hackers claim to be teenagers, there is no actual proof of who these people are.
2. Crazy Teen Hacks Into A Website For Moms
Mumsnet is a seemingly innocent online site dedicated to mothers, and it’s one of the largest online resources for parents, receiving 14 million visits per month. So why would this website become the target for a massive cyber attack? No one can really say for sure, but one thing’s for sure, this cyber attack got out of hand very quickly. According to the shadowy group behind the attack, the website is very anti-male. They claim that many of the fathers involved with custody battles with mothers of their children are viewed as enemies by this website. It turns out that many of the hackers behind this group, known as “dadsec,” are actually the teenage sons of fathers who are angry with the website. One such teen was arrested, but many of the perpetrators got away with the crime.
The attack basically involved the hackers stealing the home addresses of site members, then launching attacks known as “swatting.” Swatting entails calling the police and reporting gunshots or murders at the addresses of the target. The target is then suddenly confronted by a SWAT team at their front door, fully armed and ready for a gun battle with an armed assailant. One of the victims of these attacks was the founder of the website, Justine Roberts.
1. The Second Time Hillary’s Emails Got Hacked
Just days ago, Hillary Clinton was once again surrounded in controversy after her emails were hacked again during the Democratic Convention. This time, the hacker, who is unknown, released information that proved Hillary was cheating in order to obtain the Democratic nomination for presidential candidacy. The emails suggest that members of the Democratic Party were privately on the side of Hillary. The information seems to suggest that the Democratic party decided together that Clinton would be the next presidential candidate long before any votes were cast. This is undeniably undemocratic. The emails also reveal that everyone in the party, most notably the super delegates, seem to hate Bernie Sanders and they were doing everything they can to ensure that he didn’t win the nomination. The nomination is supposed to be the people’s choice, not the party’s choice. The hackers reportedly come from Russia, but that’s really just speculation as of right now. Reportedly, there are many more leaked emails coming soon from WikiLeaks.