5 of the Biggest Computer Hacks in History

If you are a student who would like to combine a career in security with your love of computers, then you would do well to pursue a degree that will qualify you to become a specialist in information security or overall computer security. This type of career can put you at the front lines of protecting vital information for businesses, individuals and various departments of the government, and you’ll have to be ready to be a few steps ahead of some excellent hackers and other incredibly gifted programmers who are bent on destruction. Here are just a few of the biggest computer hacks that have occurred throughout history.


1. Operation Shady RAT

A computer programmer based in the People’s Republic of China is assumed to be responsible for these continuing cyber attacks that first began in 2006. Named for its utilization of remote access tools that allows computers to be remotely controlled from anywhere in the world, this hacker has succeeded in stealing the intellectual property from at least 70 public and private organizations across 14 countries. Those victimized include the United Nations, multiple defense contractors, worldwide businesses, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee.


2. Department Of Defense Hack

Those who yearn for a security position at the Department of Defense will definitely have their work cut out for them. Wanna-be hackers attempt to attack its security system on a regular basis, and a teenager from Florida managed to compromise the military’s computer system way back in 1999. By installing backdoor software into the computer system of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Jonathan James was able to intercept highly classified emails. These included information about the life support code for the International Space Station and many other important matters.


3. Melissa Virus

Perhaps the first major computer virus that made the world’s population realize that their computers weren’t always safe, Melissa was created in 1999 by a New Jersey programmer with too much idle time on his hands. David L. Smith disguised his virus as a simple Microsoft Word program, and he sent it to countless unsuspecting recipients. It then resent itself to the first 50 people from each infected computer’s address book. Before long, Melissa had compromised a full 20 percent of the world’s computers, and big companies like Intel and Microsoft were forced to shut down all outgoing mail programs until the problem could be solved.


4. Comodo Hack

Everyone who uses a computer is familiar with those reassuring security certificates that let you know that you’ve arrived at a secure site, but they aren’t always what they seem. Comodo, a company that provides those certificates, was hacked in 2011 by an Iranian programmer who was then able to create fake security certificates that led people to believe that they were actually logging into Yahoo or Google. This allowed the hacker to eavesdrop on any e-mail that was sent from these services and gain personal information.


5. Play Station Network Hack

This particular hack clearly demonstrates that more than just computers are at risk of being compromised. In 2011, a hacker accessed the Play Station Network system, which resulted in the loss of data and personal information for some 77 million users. The company had to shut down for 20 days and lost an estimated $171 million.

If these hacking events sound like a challenge that you would enjoy taking on, then you shouldn’t hesitate to seek your degree today. According to the United States Department of Labor, jobs in this field are growing fast and pay quite well.

See also: Information Technology Degree Online – A Complete List of Schools