Since the inception of the internet, cyber attacks like ransomware, viruses and worms have caused significant damage to both businesses and individuals. Over time, hackers became more sophisticated and used a variety of new technologies to target unsuspecting users and organizations. This has led to people and businesses paying fees to get their data and services back. Although these kinds of cyber attacks are relatively common, there have been several major instances in which millions of people’s devices were infected. Below are some of the notable viruses, worms and ransomware that have impacted users in recent memory:
Conficker: Conficker compromised and exploited home, business and government computers across 190 countries. It became one of the most effective worms of all time after it impacted over 11 million devices globally. Experts have said it’s a self replicating malware that can move laterally through a network through the usage of USBs and similar devices. It exploited MS08-67, a Microsoft Windows vulnerability; even though Microsoft released a patch shortly after, the damage couldn’t be contained. Conficker led to many similar attacks because the creators of the worm were never found.
Stuxnet: Stuxnet was a malicious worm/virus that was discovered in 2010. It was originally aimed at Iran’s nuclear facilities, but it mutated and spread to other industrial and energy facilities. The worm was created by the CIA, NSA and Israeli intelligence and it was one of the first worms that had the ability to cripple hardware. Stuxnet eventually ended up destroying centrifuges in Iran and consequently many alternative forms were made in the years following its creation. Although the worm was supposed to expire in 2012, other groups used it as a blueprint to create similar worms and viruses.
DarkHotel: A few years after Stuxnet, DarkHotel emerged. DarkHotel is an extremely sophisticated spear-phishing campaign in which high profile individuals like business executives during their stays at hotels. DarkHotel hackers target executives in order to compromise their devices and extract sensitive information like trade secrets and credentials for their logins. The hackers did this by tracking the travel itineraries of executives and breaching their data through hotel WiFi. After the hackers initial success with executives, they started to target politicians and government officials and policy makers. Business executives and other high profile individuals started to adapt and use their own means to access business while traveling like VPNs, private networks and more.
Wannacry: WannaCry is a ransomware worm that was found in 2017 after it infected a large amount of computer networks. It worked by encrypting files on PC hard drives after it infected a computer; this made it impossible for users to gain access to any of their documents, data and anything else on their computer. It’s spread became national headlines after it compromised the networks of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). Once the information on the computer is encrypted, hackers would demand payment from the victim through cryptocurrency to gain their data back. The NSA picked up on WannaCry hackers, but the damage was already done to many businesses and individuals.
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