April 17, 2014 1:49 pm

Biggest hacking scandals of all time

Canadian hacker Michael Calce launched an attack on several major websites such as CNN, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay that paralyzed the sites for hours.

File Photo/Canadian Press Images

TORONTO – Police have charged a 19-year-0ld London, Ont., man in relation to the security breach on the Canada Revenue Agency’s website, which resulted in 900 social insurance numbers being stolen.

Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes faces one count of “Unauthorized Use of Computer” and one count of mischief.

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Solis-Reyes, described by his lawyer as a “straight-A” student, is in his second year of computer engineering at Western University. But he isn’t the first person (or even the first Canadian) to be implicated in large-scale hacking scandals.

Canadian hacker ‘Mafiaboy’ attacks media sites

In February 2000, Canadian hacker Michael Calce launched an attack on several major websites such as CNN, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay that paralyzed the sites for hours. Economic damages from the attack were estimated at several million dollars.

The RCMP and the FBI launched a manhunt that ended two months later with the 15-year-old Calce apprehended at his parents’ home in Montreal.

He was tried and found guilty of 55 counts of mischief and sentenced to eight months in a youth detention centre and a year of probation. As a young offender, he was only known in the media by his online alias “Mafiaboy” to protect his identity.

But in 2008, Calce revealed his identity to the world by releasing a book entitled Mafiaboy: How I Cracked the Internet and Why It’s Still Broken, in which he discussed his fascination with computers and learning how to be a hacker.

READ MORE: Hacker charged in CRA Heartbleed breach ‘straight-A’ engineering student

Target breach

In mid-December hackers infiltrated Target’s systems stealing about 40 million debit and credit card numbers and personal information – including email addresses, phone numbers, name and addresses – of another 70 million people.

The Secret Service and the FBI are still investigating the data heist, however experts believe the hackers responsible for the security breach will be hard to find.

Google theft

Google revealed it has been targeted by a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on [its] corporate infrastructure originating from China, in January 2010. Google said the attack, Operation Aurora, had resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google.

Palin email attack

In September a hacker gained access to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s private email account and posted screenshots of the politician’s contact list, messages and inbox were posted to a whistle-blowing website.

A person claiming to be the hacker posted messages regarding the attack on a web forum. The postings were later traced to 20-year-old Tennessee college student David Kernell, who has since been indicted on charges of identity theft, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

Monster.com resume theft

The online job board Monster.com spent millions on security upgrades after a group of con artists broke into its system and stole the resumes of 1.3 million people.

The group used a computer program to access the employers’ section of the site and steal log-in credentials. The logins were used to upload user names, email addresses, phone numbers, and home addresses to a remote server.

While the information taken from the resumes did not include social security numbers or financial data, the contact information alone was enough for the hackers to construct “phishing” and spam emails containing personal information of the users.

Phishing emails sent to users encouraged them to download a “job seeker tool,” which was in fact a program that encrypted files on their computer and demanded money for their decryption.

Credit card accounts exposed

A massive computer security breach at a payment processing company exposed more than 20 million Visa and 13.9 million MasterCard accounts to the risk of fraud in June.

Analysts and law enforcement officials traced the breach to payment processing company CardSystems Solutions of Tucson, Ariz. Hackers were able to insert a code in the company’s network which allowed them to steal account information that could be used to commit fraud.

The breach was one of the largest in the world at the time, as hundreds of thousands of cards were cancelled and reissued.

Hacker looks for UFO evidence

Gary McKinnon hacked into 97 Pentagon, U.S. Navy, Army and NASA computers between February 2001 and March 2002. The British hacker, also known by his online name “Solo” admitted that he hacked into the systems, but said he only did it to find evidence of UFOs.

The US government alleged that McKinnon caused $700,000 in damage.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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