Happy Halloween! A Look at the Scariest IT Moments of 2014
Over the years, cybercrime has evolved, matured and increased in frequency. Target groups vary from case to case and victims range from big merchants and high-end retailers to celebrities and common folk. On the eve of Halloween, we’ve dug up some of the scariest cyber-attacks in 2014.
One of the more innovative hacks in recent years started making headway in Great Britain in September 2013. CryptoLocker utilizes malware to encrypt and freeze victims’ sentimental and valuable files on infected computers. After successfully locking the computer, a ransom note appears on the victim’s screen demanding money in return for their files. If the victim fails to make payment, the computer remains locked and files are unsalvageable.
More than $100 million in losses were attributed to the cybercriminals’ schemes as well as hundreds of thousands of infected computers. Computer security companies estimate that CryptoLocker infected over 234,000 computers worldwide, including more than 100,000 in the United States.
Target’s recent data breach affected 40 million credit and debit cards, tapping into payment card information and other sensitive data. Both Target and Home Depot‘s attacks were traced to a software that slipped into the companies’ networks and scanned payment-card information. The aftermath of Target’s breach spilled over from 2013 into 2014, costing the company $148 million in expenses, offset by a $38 million insurance receivable. Additionally, financial institutions spent over $200 million replacing millions of compromised cards, raising the breach’s total to $350 million.
The cyber-attack on Home Depot’s payment systems compromised 56 million cards over a five-month period, surpassing Target’s affected 40 million credit and debit cards. Home Depot was in the midst of encrypting its payment terminal data when the hackers beat them to the project’s fruition. The company’s new encryption system, which launched September 13, scrambles card information, making it unreadable and unusable by persons lacking the proper tools to unlock data.
Home Depot estimates the investigation, increased staffing and card monitoring will cost $62 million, offset by $27 million it expects insurance to reimburse.
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
J.P. Morgan, the nation’s largest bank by assets, said about 76 million households and seven million small businesses were affected by a cybersecurity attack on the bank this summer. Sensitive data stolen included customers’ names, email addresses, addresses and phone numbers. The unknown hackers were unable to acquire account information, such as passwords, Social Security numbers or account numbers. It appears that the hackers commenced the network breach via an employee’s personal computer, which had administrative privileges, and increasingly attained data from that point on.
In response to the data breach, J.P. Morgan’s CEO James Dimon stated that J.P. Morgan will be doubling their cybersecurity spending from $250 million annually in 2014. Investigators believe 12 other financial-services companies were targeted by the same cyber criminals.
Apple’s iCloud service has dealt with multiple cybersecurity issues as of late. Users based in China fell victim to a cyber-attack, exposing usernames, passwords, pictures, files and other personal information. Users reported seeing warnings from their browsers stating that iCloud.com was not a trusted site, indicating that Apple’s iCloud communications had been breached. Additionally, racy celebrity photos were leaked from the iCloud system last month. In response to the attacks and raising concerns regarding the company’s privacy settings, Apple stated that moving forward, it will utilize encryption on its mobile devices.