Security Breach: 4 Disturbing Stories About Getting Hacked

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

If you aren't taking the security of your online assets seriously, then reading this article just might change your mind.

Digital security is very hard to overstate.

The fact is, global markets aren't just saturated with technology, they're saturated with hackers. Hackers can put not just a company or a person at risk; they can put an entire country at risk.

The following are four of the most disturbing stories where organizations have been hacked,

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1. The “Impact Team” and Ashley Madison

In July of 2015, the website Ashleymadison.com was hacked by a group called “The Impact Team”.

The hackers released to the public more than 25 gigabytes of company information on the 18th and the 20th of August. The data included their user’s personal information like their Social Security Number, real names, and home addresses, among other details.

Considering how the website’s nature is all about enabling married people to have an affair, those whose names were included in the release feared being shamed publicly.

As you can probably imagine, countless lives have been changed due to the data being released. According to Kristen, a contributor at Fusion.net, she has uncovered at least three suicides, countless stories of extortion and divorce, and one ousted small-town mayor (among others), due to the debacle.

Ashley Madison’s parent company, Avid Life Media, released a bounty of $377,000 to whomever could give information leading to the capture of the hacker (or hackers) involved.

2. Gary McKinnon: The Scotch Surprise

They're still trying to extradite Gary from his native Scotland. It hasn't happened yet, because he's not based in America; but between 2001 and 2002, Gary managed to cause $700,000 in damages to United States military computers. He claimed he was looking for information on sustainable energy and the UFO phenomenon.

Those claims are difficult to substantiate, however, as the man damaged files on some 300 different computers, rendering them inoperable. Had his actions happened at a time when the United States was in substantive conflict with a foreign power, lives could have been lost.

3. The Bill Gates Hacker

He was only 19 years old at the time, but age is an artificial barrier to begin with, and Raphael Gray knew it. He hacked computer systems around the world in just a month. What was he after? Credit card information, and that which is unauthorized to the general public.

The kid managed to get millions of dollars and a sweet nickname, "The Bill Gates Hacker".

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What he did was sneak into computer systems that were supposedly "secure" and publish the credit card information he was able to access. A lot of hackers go after these kinds of things, and many people are affected when this happens.

Hackers generally know how to get whatever they'd like to. That means, the safest bet for you is to have an alternative financial mode of egress that doesn't rely strictly on options exploitable via digital know-how.

Credit cards are routinely hacked across the globe, and for good, if not ethical, reason: it is a lucrative thing, to steal from credit-card agencies. Identity theft has become more prevalent, not less, and hackers like Raphael seem to come with regularity, though, perhaps, not with as great success as Gray managed.

4. The 14-Year-Old Wunderkind

He was only 14 years old when he was convicted on 45 separate counts of what would ultimately be called "technical burglary."

He should have served 45 years in prison, one year for each count, but James Costa caught the notice of the Navy. He was an intelligence analyst at 18 years of age, and by age 20, had thrown in his lot with the Central Intelligence Agency, where he began tracking African warlords on that continent and other regions across the middle east. Four years later he was able to sell his first dotcom organization for millions.

It's kind of a happy story when you think about it, though: Costa was able to turn himself around. Now he has a distinct focus on getting troubled kids to follow their true potential.

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A Digital Wild West

While the insanity of the earliest days in computer history has largely been put behind us, more digital arenas exist in the future. Cellular technology has brought an entirely new realm of digital code, and naturally, there are going to be holes in that code as it's been designed by mankind that’s fallible.

According to attorney Jonathan Rosenfeld, "What we're seeing now is really an industry reacting to the hacking epidemic. In order to prevent these outbreaks in the future and hold those responsible, we need an updated set of laws to assist in the prosecution of these cases."

More hackers will come, and by no means is the problem/blessing entirely curtailed given time. In this light, it makes sense to be as cautious as possible when using the Internet, or putting sensitive information out there.

Hackers generally do not consider the plight of individuals, and they're generally young enough to have an unhealthy amount of psychosis informing their hacking endeavors.

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