technical experts; skilled, often young, computer programmers, who almost whimsically probe the defenses of a computer system, searching out the limits and the possibilities of the machine. Despite their seemingly subversive role, hackers are a recognized asset in the computer industry, often highly prized
The newspaper describes white hat activities as part of a "mischievous but perversely positive 'hacker' tradition". When a National CSS employee revealed the existence of his password cracker, which he had used on customer accounts, the company chastised him not for writing the software but for not disclosing it sooner. The letter of reprimand stated that "The Company realizes the benefit to NCSS and in fact encourages the efforts of employees to identify security weaknesses to the VP, the directory, and other sensitive software in files".
Someone calling himself Lex Luthor founds the Legion of Doom. Named after a Saturday morning cartoon, the LOD had the reputation of attracting "the best of the best"—until one of the most talented members called Phiber Optik feuded with Legion of Doomer Erik Bloodaxe and got 'tossed out of the clubhouse'. Phiber's friends formed a rival group, the Masters of Deception.
The Comprehensive Crime Control Act gives the Secret Service jurisdiction over computer fraud.
Cult of the Dead Cow forms in Lubbock, Texas, and begins publishing its ezine.
The hacker magazine 2600 begins regular publication, right when TAP was putting out its final issue. The editor of 2600, "Emmanuel Goldstein" (whose real name is Eric Corley), takes his handle from the leader of the resistance in George Orwell's 1984. The publication provides tips for would-be hackers and phone phreaks, as well as commentary on the hacker issues of the day. Today, copies of 2600 are sold at most large retail bookstores.
The Chaos Communication Congress, the annual European hacker conference organized by the Chaos Computer Club, is held in Hamburg, Germany.
William Gibson's groundbreaking science fiction novel Neuromancer, about "Case", a futuristic computer hacker, is published. Considered the first major cyberpunk novel, it brought into hacker jargon such terms as "cyberspace", "the matrix", "simstim", and "ICE".
KILOBAUD is re-organized into The P.H.I.R.M. and begins sysopping hundreds of BBSs throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.
The online 'zine Phrack is established.
The Hacker's Handbook is published in the UK.
The FBI, Secret Service, Middlesex County NJ Prosecutor's Office and various local law enforcement agencies execute seven search warrants concurrently across New Jersey on July 12, 1985, seizing equipment from BBS operators and users alike for "complicity in computer theft", under a newly passed, and yet untested criminal statute. This is famously known as the Private Sector Bust, or the 2600 BBS Seizure, and implicated the Private Sector BBS sysop, Store Manager (also a BBS sysop), Beowulf, Red Barchetta, The Vampire, the NJ Hack Shack BBS sysop, and the Treasure Chest BBS sysop.
January: Yahoo! notifies Internet users that anyone visiting its site in the past month might have downloaded a logic bomb and worm planted by hackers claiming a "logic bomb" will go off if computer hacker Kevin Mitnick is not released from prison
February: The Internet Software Consortium proposes the use of DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) to secure DNS servers.
May 19: The seven members of the hacker think tank known as L0pht testify in front of the US congressional Government Affairs committee on "Weak Computer Security in Government".
June: Information Security publishes its first annual Industry Survey, finding that nearly three-quarters of organizations suffered a security incident in the previous year.
September: Electronic Disturbance Theater, an online political performance-art group, attacks the websites of The Pentagon, Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, calling it conceptual art and claiming it to be a protest against the suppression of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in southern Mexico. EDT uses the FloodNet software to bombard its opponents with access requests.
October: "U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno announces National Infrastructure Protection Center."
Software security goes mainstream In the wake of Microsoft's Windows 98 release, 1999 becomes a banner year for security (and hacking). Hundreds of advisories and patches are released in response to newfound (and widely publicized) bugs in Windows and other commercial software products. A host of security software vendors release anti-hacking products for use on home computers.
U.S. President Bill Clinton announces a $1.46 billion initiative to improve government computer security. The plan would establish a network of intrusion detection monitors for certain federal agencies and encourage the private sector to do the same.
January 7: The "Legion of the Underground" (LoU) declares "war" against the governments of Iraq and the People's Republic of China. An international coalition of hackers (including Cult of the Dead Cow, 2600's staff, Phrack's staff, L0pht, and the Chaos Computer Club) issued a joint statement (CRD 990107 - Hackers on planet earth against infowar) condemning the LoU's declaration of war. The LoU responded by withdrawing its declaration.
March: The Melissa worm is released and quickly becomes the most costly malware outbreak to date.
July: Cult of the Dead Cow releases Back Orifice 2000 at DEF CON.
August: Kevin Mitnick, sentenced to 5 years, of which over 4 years had already been spent pre-trial including 8 months' solitary confinement.
September: Level Seven Crew hacks the U.S. Embassy in China's website and places racist, anti-government slogans on embassy site in regards to 1998 U.S. embassy bombings.
September 16: The United States Department of Justice sentences the "Phone Masters".
October: American Express introduces the "Blue" smart card, the industry's first chip-based credit card in the US.
November 17: A hacker interviewed by Hilly Rose during the radio show Coast to Coast AM (then hosted by Art Bell) exposes a plot by al-Qaeda to derail Amtrak trains. This results in all trains being forcibly stopped over Y2K as a safety measure.
January: Bill Gates decrees that Microsoft will secure its products and services, and kicks off a massive internal training and quality control campaign.
March: Gary McKinnon is arrested following unauthorized access to US military and NASA computers.
May: Klez.H, a variant of the worm discovered in November 2001, becomes the biggest malware outbreak in terms of machines infected, but causes little monetary damage.
June: The Bush administration files a bill to create the Department of Homeland Security, which, among other things, will be responsible for protecting the nation's critical IT infrastructure.
August: Researcher Chris Paget publishes a paper describing "shatter attacks", detailing how Windows' unauthenticated messaging system can be used to take over a machine. The paper raises questions about how securable Windows could ever be. It is however largely derided as irrelevant as the vulnerabilities it described are caused by vulnerable applications (placing windows on the desktop with inappropriate privileges) rather than an inherent flaw within the Operating System.
October: The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium—(ISC)²—confers its 10,000th CISSP certification.
January: One of the few worms to take after the old form of malware, destruction of data rather than the accumulation of zombie networks to launch attacks from, is discovered. It had various names, including Kama Sutra (used by most media reports), Black Worm, Mywife, Blackmal, Nyxem version D, Kapser, KillAV, Grew and CME-24. The worm would spread through e-mail client address books, and would search for documents and fill them with garbage, instead of deleting them to confuse the user. It would also hit a web page counter when it took control, allowing the programmer who created it as well as the world to track the progress of the worm. It would replace documents with random garbage on the third of every month. It was hyped by the media but actually affected relatively few computers, and was not a real threat for most users.
May: Jeanson James Ancheta receives a 57-month prison sentence, and is ordered to pay damages amounting to $15,000 to the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake and the Defense Information Systems Agency, for damage done due to DDoS attacks and hacking. Ancheta also had to forfeit his gains to the government, which include $60,000 in cash, a BMW, and computer equipment.
May: The largest defacement in Web History as of that time is performed by the Turkish hacker iSKORPiTX who successfully hacked 21,549 websites in one shot.
July: Robert Moore and Edwin Pena were the first people to be charged by U.S. authorities for VoIP hacking. Robert Moore served 2 years in federal prison and was given $152,000 restitution. Once Edwin Pena was caught after fleeing the country, evading authorities for almost 2 years, he was sentenced to 10 years and given $1 million restitution.
September: Viodentia releases FairUse4WM tool which would remove DRM information off Windows Media Audio (WMA) files downloaded from music services such as Yahoo! Unlimited, Napster, Rhapsody Music and Urge.
The hacker group Lulz Security is formed.
April 9: Bank of America website got hacked by a Turkish hacker named JeOPaRDY. An estimated 85,000 credit card numbers and accounts were reported to have been stolen due to the hack. Bank officials say no personal customer bank information is available on that web-page. Investigations are being conducted by the FBI to trace down the incriminated hacker.
April 17: An "external intrusion" sends the PlayStation Network offline, and compromises personally identifying information (possibly including credit card details) of its 77 million accounts, in what is claimed to be one of the five largest data breaches ever.
Computer hacker sl1nk releases information of his penetration in the servers of the Department of Defense (DoD), Pentagon, NASA, NSA, US Military, Department of the Navy, Space and Naval Warfare System Command and other UK/US government websites.
October 16: The YouTube channel of Sesame Street was hacked, streaming pornographic content for about 22 minutes.
November 1: The main phone and Internet networks of the Palestinian territories sustained a hacker attack from multiple locations worldwide.
November 7: The forums for Valve's Steam service were hacked. Redirects for a hacking website, Fkn0wned, appeared on the Steam users' forums, offering "hacking tutorials and tools, porn, free giveaways and much more."
December 14: Five members of the Norwegian hacker group, Noria, were arrested, allegedly suspected for hacking into the email account of the militant extremist Anders Behring Breivik (who perpetrated the 2011 attacks in the country).
A hacker, Big-Smoke, published over 400,000 credit cards online, and threatened Israel to release 1 million credit cards in the future. In response to that incident, an Israeli hacker published over 200 Albanian' credit cards online.
Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, the co-founder of Pirate Bay, was convicted in Denmark of hacking a mainframe computer, what was then Denmark's biggest hacking case.
January 7: "Team Appunity", a group of Norwegian hackers, were arrested for breaking into Norway's largest prostitution website then publishing the user database online.
February 3: Marriott was hacked by a New Age ideologist, Attila Nemeth who was resisting against the New World Order where he said that corporations are allegedly controlling the world. As a response Marriott reported him to the United States Secret Service.
February 8: Foxconn is hacked by a hacker group, "Swagg Security", releasing a massive amount of data including email and server logins, and even more alarming—bank account credentials of large companies like Apple and Microsoft. Swagg Security stages the attack just as a Foxconn protest ignites against terrible working conditions in southern China.
May 4: The websites of several Turkish representative offices of international IT-companies are defaced within the same day by F0RTYS3V3N (Turkish Hacker), including the websites of Google, Yandex, Microsoft, Gmail, MSN, Hotmail, PayPal.
May 24: WHMCS is hacked by UGNazi, they claim that the reason for this is because of the illegal sites that are using their software.
May 31: MyBB is hacked by newly founded hacker group, UGNazi, the website was defaced for about a day, they claim their reasoning for this was because they were upset that the forum board Hackforums.net uses their software.
June 5: The social networking website LinkedIn has been hacked and the passwords for nearly 6.5 million user accounts are stolen by cybercriminals. As a result, a United States grand jury indicted Nikulin and three unnamed co-conspirators on charges of aggravated identity theft and computer intrusion.
August 15: The most valuable company in the world Saudi Aramco is crippled by a cyber warfare attack for months by malware called Shamoon. Considered the biggest hack in history in terms of cost and destructiveness . Carried out by an Iranian attacker group called Cutting Sword of Justice. Iranian hackers retaliated against Stuxnet by releasing Shamoon. The malware destroyed over 35,000 Saudi Aramco computers, affecting business operations for months.
December 17: Computer hacker sl1nk announced that he has hacked a total of 9 countries' SCADA systems. The proof includes 6 countries: France, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United States.
February: The 2016 Bangladesh Bank heist attempted to steal US$951 million from a Bangladesh Bank, and succeeded in getting $101 million—although some of this was later recovered.
July 22: WikiLeaks published the documents from the 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak.
July 29: a group suspected coming from China launched hacker attacks on the website of Vietnam Airlines.
August 13: The Shadow Brokers (TSB) started publishing several leaks containing hacking tools from the National Security Agency (NSA), including several zero-day exploits. Ongoing leaks until April 2017 (The Shadow Brokers)
September: Hacker Ardit Ferizi is sentenced to 20 years in prison after being arrested for hacking U.S. servers and passing the leaked information to members of ISIL terrorist group back in 2015.
October: The 2016 Dyn cyberattack is being conducted with a botnet consisting of IOTs infected with Mirai by the hacktivist groups SpainSquad, Anonymous, and New World Hackers, reportedly in retaliation for Ecuador's rescinding Internet access to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at their embassy in London, where he has been granted asylum.
Late 2016: Hackers steal international personal user data from the company Uber, including phone numbers, email addresses, and names, of 57 million people and 600,000 driver's license numbers of drivers for the company. Uber's GitHub account was accessed through Amazon's cloud-based service. Uber paid the hackers $100,000 for assurances the data was destroyed.
April: A hacker group calling itself "The Dark Overlord" posted unreleased episodes of Orange Is the New Black TV series online after failing to extort the online entertainment company Netflix.
May: WannaCry ransomware attack started on Friday, May 12, 2017, and has been described as unprecedented in scale, infecting more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries. A hacked unreleased Disney film is held for ransom, to be paid in Bitcoin.
May: 25,000 digital photos and ID scans relating to patients of the Grozio Chirurgija cosmetic surgery clinic in Lithuania were obtained and published without consent by an unknown group demanding ransoms. Thousands of clients from more than 60 countries were affected. The breach brought attention to weaknesses in Lithuania's information security.
June: 2017 Petya cyberattack.
June: TRITON (TRISIS), a malware framework designed to reprogram Triconex safety instrumented systems (SIS) of industrial control systems (ICS), discovered in Saudi Arabian Petrochemical plant.
August: Hackers demand $7.5 million in Bitcoin to stop pre-releasing HBO shows and scripts, including Ballers, Room 104 and Game of Thrones.
May–July 2017: The Equifax breach.
September 2017: Deloitte breach.
December: Mecklenburg County, North Carolina computer systems were hacked. They did not pay the ransom.
March: Computer systems in the city of Atlanta, in the U.S. state of Georgia, are seized by hackers with ransomware. They did not pay the ransom, and two Iranians were indicted by the FBI on cyber crime charges for the breach.
The town of Wasaga Beach in Ontario, Canada computer systems are seized by hackers with ransomware.
September: Facebook was hacked, exposing to hackers the personal information of an estimated 30 million Facebook users (initially estimated at 50 million) when the hackers "stole" the "access tokens" of 400,000 Facebook users. The information accessible to the hackers included users' email addresses, phone numbers, their lists of friends, Groups they are members of, users' search information, posts on their timelines, and names of recent Messenger conversations.
October: West Haven, Connecticut USA computer systems are seized by hackers with ransomware, they paid $2,000 in ransom.
The first U.S. indictment of individual people for ransomware attacks occurs. The U.S. Justice Department indicted two men Faramarz Shahi Savandi and Mohammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri who allegedly used the SamSam ransomware for extortion, netting them more than $6 million in ransom payments. The companies infected with the ransomware included Allscripts, Medstar Health, and Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center. Altogether, the attacks caused victims to lose more than $30 million, in addition to the ransom payments.
Marriott disclosed that its Starwood Hotel brand had been subject to a security breach.
March: Jackson County computer systems in the U.S. state of Georgia are seized by hackers with ransomware, they paid $400,000 in ransom. The city of Albany in the U.S. state of New York experiences a ransomware cyber attack.
April: Computer systems in the city of Augusta, in the U.S. state of Maine, are seized by hackers using ransomware. The City of Greenville (North Carolina)'s computer systems are seized by hackers using ransomware known as RobbinHood. Imperial County, in the U.S. state of California, computer systems are seized by hackers using Ryuk ransomware.
May: computer systems belonging to the City of Baltimore are seized by hackers using ransomware known as RobbinHood that encrypts files with a "file-locking" virus, as well as the tool EternalBlue.
June: The city of Riviera Beach, Florida paid roughly $600,000 ransom in Bitcoin to hackers who seized their computers using ransomware. Hackers stole 18 hours of unreleased music from the band Radiohead demanding $150,000 ransom. Radiohead released the music to the public anyway and did not pay the ransom.
November: The Anonymous hacktivist collective announced that they have hacked into four Chinese computer databases and donated those to data breach indexing/notification service vigilante.pw. The hack was conducted in order to support the 2019 Hong Kong protests, amidst the Hong Kong police's siege of the city's Polytechnic University. They also brought up a possible peace plan first proposed by a professor at Inha University in hopes of having the Korean reunification and the five key demands of the Hong Kong protest being fulfilled at once.
February: Anonymous hacked the United Nations website and created a page for Taiwan, a country which had not had a seat at the UN since 1971. The hacked page featured the Flag of Taiwan, the KMT emblem, a Taiwan Independence flag, the Anonymous logo, embedded YouTube videos such as the Taiwanese national anthem and the closing score for the 2019 film Avengers: Endgame titled "It's Been a Long, Long Time", and a caption. The hacked server belonged to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
May: Anonymous declared a large hack on May 28, three days after the murder of George Floyd. An individual claiming to represent Anonymous stated that "We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us." in a now-deleted video. Anonymous addressed police brutality and said they "will be exposing [their] many crimes to the world". It was suspected that Anonymous were the cause for the downtime and public suspension of the Minneapolis Police Department website and its parent site, the website of the City of Minneapolis.
May: Indian national Shubham Upadhyay posed as Superintendent of Police and, using social engineering, used a free caller identification app to call up the in-charge of the Kotwali police station, K. K. Gupta, in order to threaten him to get his phone repaired amidst the COVID-19 lockdown. The attempt was foiled.
June: Anonymous claimed responsibility for stealing and leaking a trove of documents collectively nicknamed 'BlueLeaks'. The 269-gigabyte collection was published by a leak-focused activist group known as Distributed Denial of Secrets. Furthermore, the collective took down Atlanta Police Department's website via DDoS, and defaced websites such as a Filipino governmental webpage and that of Brookhaven National Labs. They expressed support for Julian Assange and press freedom, while briefly "taking a swing" against Facebook, Reddit and Wikipedia for having 'engaged in shady practices behind our prying eyes'. In the case of Reddit, they posted a link to a court document describing the possible involvement of a moderator of a large traffic subreddit (/r/news) in an online harassment-related case.
June: The Buffalo, NY police department's website was supposedly hacked by Anonymous. While the website was up and running after a few minutes, Anonymous tweeted again on Twitter urging that it be taken down. A few minutes later, the Buffalo NY website was brought down again. They also hacked Chicago police radios to play N.W.A's "Fuck tha Police".
June: Over 1,000 accounts on multiplayer online game Roblox were hacked to display that they supported U.S. President Donald Trump.
July: The 2020 Twitter bitcoin scam occurred.
July: User credentials of writing website Wattpad were stolen and leaked on a hacker forum. The database contained over 200 million records.
August: A large number of subreddits were hacked to post materials endorsing Donald Trump. The affected subreddits included r/BlackPeopleTwitter, r/3amJokes, r/NFL, r/PhotoshopBattles. An entity with the name of "calvin goh and Melvern" had purportedly claimed responsibility for the massive defacement, and also made violent threats against a Chinese embassy.
August: The US Air Force's Hack-A-Sat event was hosted at DEF CON's virtual conference where groups such as Poland Can Into Space, FluxRepeatRocket, AddVulcan, Samurai, Solar Wine, PFS, 15 Fitty Tree, and 1064CBread competed in order to control a satellite in space. The Poland Can Into Space team stood out for having successfully manipulated a satellite to take a picture of the Moon.
August: The website of Belarusian company "BrestTorgTeknika" was defaced by a hacker nicknaming herself "Queen Elsa", in order to support the 2020–21 Belarusian protests. In it, the page hacker exclaimed "Get Iced Iced already" and "Free Belarus, revolution of our times" with the latter alluding to the famous slogan used by 2019 Hong Kong protests. The results of the hack were then announced on Reddit's /r/Belarus subreddit by a poster under the username "Socookre".
August: Multiple DDoS attacks forced New Zealand's stock market to temporarily shut down.
September: The first suspected death from a cyberattack was reported after cybercriminals hit a hospital in Düsseldorf, Germany with ransomware.
October: A wave of botnet-coordinated ransomware attacks against hospital infrastructure occurred in the United States, identified as associated with Russia. State security officials and American corporate security officers were concerned that these attacks might be a prelude to hacking of election infrastructure during the elections of the subsequent month, like similar incidents during the 2016 United States elections and other attacks; there was, however, no evidence that they performed attacks on election infrastructure in 2020.
December: A supply chain attack targeting upstream dependencies from Texas IT service provider "SolarWinds" results in serious, wide-ranging security breaches at the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments. White House officials did not immediately publicly identify a culprit; Reuters, citing sources "familiar with the investigation", pointed toward the Russian government. An official statement shared by Senate Finance Committee ranking member, Ron Wyden said: “Hackers broke into systems in the Departmental Offices division of Treasury, home to the department’s highest-ranking officials.”
December: The Anonymous group initiated 'Christmas gift' defacements against multiple Russian portals including a municipal website in Tomsk and that of a regional football club. Inside the defacements, they made multiple references such as Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny, freedom protests in Thailand and Belarus, and opposition to the Chinese Communist Party. They also held a mock award based on an event on the game platform Roblox that was called “RB Battles” where Youtubers Tanqr and KreekCraft, the winner and the runner up of the actual game event, were compared to both Taiwan and New Zealand respectively due to the latter's reportedly stellar performance in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
January: Microsoft Exchange Server data breach
February: Anonymous announced cyber-attacks of at least five Malaysian websites. As a result, eleven individuals were nabbed as suspects.
February: Hackers including those with names of "张卫能 utoyo" and "full_discl0sure" hijacked an events website Aucklife in order to craft a phony bomb threat against the Chinese consulate in Auckland, New Zealand, and also a similar facility in Sydney, Australia. Their motive was a punitive response against China due to COVID-19. As a result, a physical search was conducted at the consulate by New Zealand's Police Specialist Search Group while Aucklife owner Hailey Newton had since regained her access to the website. Wellington-based cybersecurity consultant Adam Boileau remarked that the hack isn't 'highly technical'.
February: The group "Myanmar Hackers" attacked several websites belonging to Myanmar government agencies such as the Central Bank of Myanmar and the military-run Tatmadaw True News Information Team. The group also targeted the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, Trade Department, Customs Department, Ministry of Commerce, Myawady TV and state-owned broadcaster Myanmar Radio and Television and some private media outlets. A computer technician in Yangon found that the hacks were denial-of-service attacks, while the group's motive is to protest the 2021 Myanmar coup.
April: Over 500 million Facebook users' personal info—including info on 32 million in the United States—was discovered posted on a hackers' website, though Facebook claimed that the information was from a 2019 hack, and that the company had already taken mitigation measures; however, the company declined to say whether it had notified the affected users of the breach.
April: The Ivanti Pulse Connect Secure data breach of unauthorized access to the networks of high-value targets since at least June 2020 via CVE-2021-22893 across the U.S. and some E.U. nations due to their use of vulnerable, proprietary software was reported.
May: Operation of the U.S. Colonial Pipeline is interrupted by a ransomware cyber operation.
May: On 21 May 2021 Air India was subjected to a cyberattack wherein the personal details of about 4.5 million customers around the world were compromised including passport, credit card details, birth dates, name and ticket information.
July: On 22 July 2021 Saudi Aramco data were leaked by a third-party contractor and demanded $50 million ransom from Saudi Aramco. Saudi Aramco confirmed the incident after a hacker claimed on dark web that he had stolen 1 terabyte of data about location of oil refineries and employees data in a post that was posted on June 23.
August: T-Mobile reported that data files with information from about 40 million former or prospective T-Mobile customers, including first and last names, date of birth, SSN, and driver’s license/ID information, were compromised.
September and October: 2021 Epik data breach. Anonymous obtained and released over 400 gigabytes of data from the domain registrar and web hosting company Epik. The data was shared in three releases between September 13 and October 4. The first release included domain purchase and transfer details, account credentials and logins, payment history, employee emails, and unidentified private keys. The hackers claimed they had obtained "a decade's worth of data", including all customer data and records for all domains ever hosted or registered through the company, and which included poorly encrypted passwords and other sensitive data stored in plaintext. The second release consisted of bootable disk images and API keys for third-party services used by Epik; the third contained additional disk images and an archive of data belonging to the Republican Party of Texas, who are an Epik customer.
October: On October 6, 2021, an anonymous 4chan reportedly hacked and leaked the source code of Twitch, as well as information on how much the streaming service paid almost 2.4 million streamers since August 2019. Source code from almost 6,000 Github repositories was leaked, and the 4chan user said it was "part one" of a much larger release.