Special Report

15 Most Famous Cyberattacks of All Time


The WannaCry ransomware attack has affected more than 200,000 computers in over 150 nations. The attack, which targets the Microsoft Windows operating system, has been described as one of the largest cyberattacks of all time.

The malware encrypts files, demanding users of affected computers pay a ransom of $300 in bitcoin. The software behind WannaCry was reportedly stolen in April from the National Security Agency.


Cyberattacks come in different forms, so while the WannaCry attack may be one of the largest of its kind, a number of others have affected more customers. Those numbers have reached into the tens, and even hundreds, of millions.

These are 15 of the most famous cyberattacks of all time.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

1. Yahoo

A series of attacks on Yahoo have been categorized as spamming. The assault, which started as early as 2013, ended up compromising over a billion Yahoo accounts. In many cases, the hackers had access to passwords, password reset questions, telephone numbers, and dates of birth. The attack was so severe that it threatened a buyout of Yahoo by Verizon.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

2. Sony PlayStation

The Sony PlayStation attack happened when the company’s PlayStation Network (PSN) was hit with a hack that accessed 77 million accounts. The attack happened in 2011. The data breach forced Sony to shut down the PSN for 23 days . The hack was a distributed denial-of-service attack, and was engineered by hacktivist group Anonymous.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/

3. Target

The attack on credit card accounts of Target customers hit 110 million of them in late 2013 and early 2014. The attack came in two waves. The first, around Thanksgiving of 2013, compromised 40 million customer accounts. The second, which happened early the following year, compromised the records of 70 million to 110 customers. This included names, phone numbers and email addresses.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

4. JPMorgan Chase

A hack of JPMorgan Chase customer data hit 76 million households in July 2014. The bank reported that it had no evidence that fraud was committed, but email addresses and phone numbers were accessed. The attack was considered a setback for all online banking among customers already wary about putting financial information online.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

5. Sony

Another attack on Sony was aimed at executives within its motion picture unit. While the attack was small compared to others, it set off a series of scandals that cost at least one high-level executive her job. Several thousand employees found a picture of CEO Michael Lynton’s severed head on their PCs. Sensitive emails were leaked to the press. Studio co-chairwoman Amy Pascal had some compromising emails exposed, and she eventually lost her job. The salaries of some executives were made public. The attack was considered important enough that the FBI was brought in.

Source: Maxpayne473 / Wikimedia Commons

6. Visa and Mastercard

In 2012, both Mastercard and Visa were attacked. The attack was made through Global Payments, a processing firm both credit card companies used. A total of as many as 1.5 million customer accounts were exposed. It eventually was determined that the Global Payments breach only exposed Visa and Mastercard credit card numbers and not personal information such as addresses and social security numbers. The breach cost Global Payments an estimated $93.9 million and is another in a series of incidents that made people wary of putting financial data online.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

7. LivingSocial

LivingSocial, a huge online coupon site, suffered a hack that exposed more than 50 million people. Hackers had access to emails, passwords and names. CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy gave a piece of advice that is common in customer hacks: Change your usernames and passwords at LivingSocial, and any other site where you used the same ones. The attack happened in 2013.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

8. Ashley Madison

In 2015, Ashley Madison, the online extramarital cheating site, suffered a data breach that affected 32 million of its members. People could go online and find out the names of many of the site’s customers. A website called Ashleymadisonleaked.com allowed people to check for the names of spouses and co-workers. In some cases, addresses were also made available. The site’s parent was sued for hundreds of millions of dollars, and Noel Biderman, CEO of the site’s parent company, Avid Life Media, lost his job.

Source: twitter

9. Premera Blue Cross

Health care company Premera Blue Cross announced a massive hack in 2015. However, the attack first happened in May 2014. A total of 11 million customers were affected. The company said the data possibly compromised might include member names, dates of birth, email addresses, addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, member identification numbers, bank account information, and claims information.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

10. Democratic National Committee

One of the more modest attacks in terms of the people affected was also among the most devastating for those whose accounts were breached. The Democratic National Committee was attacked and a number of emails exposed. The attack is widely believed to have been from Russia. Among the most damaging information revealed was the attempt by the Democratic National Committee to undermine the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman resigned in the wake of the scandal.

Source: Thinkstock

11. Iran’s nuclear program

The attack on Iranian nuclear facilities was meant to compromise nuclear material. The sophisticated malware used in the attack was known as Stuxnet. It was originally created by Israel and the U.S. The development of the Stuxnet worm was initiated by the Bush Administration. The program was continued and carried out by secret orders from President Barack Obama.


Source: apply.aramco.jobs

12. Aramco

The Iranians launched a cyber attack on Saudi Arabia’s huge oil company Aramco. The first attacks started in 2012 via a virus called Shamoon. Late last year, the Saudi government expressed concerns about a possible new attacked labeled Shamoon 2. Among the concerns about these attacks is that Saudi Arabia is among the largest oil exporters in the world. Anything which compromises exports could drive up the price of oil.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

13. U.S. Office of Personnel Management

In October 2015 the federal government disclosed some of the personnel records of U.S. government employees were compromised. The attack on the Office of Personnel Management eventually included 21.5 million records. The first attack started several months earlier. Material from confidential background checks of government employees were among the material exposed.

Source: Thinkstock

14. Banks in 18 countries

In early 2017, North Korean hackers tried to breach accounts at banks in 18 countries. It was an example of attempts by the small country to destabilize parts of the global financial system. The malicious software was called Lazarus. The attack resembles the successful online theft last year of the Bangladesh central bank’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.


Source: antheminc.com

15. Anthem

One of the largest hacks of the healthcare record system in the U.S. hit industry giant Anthem. It has been described as the biggest of its kind in history. Over 78 million records were stolen, which included information on Social Security numbers, birthdates, and addresses. The hack occurred in March 2015.

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