As you could probably guess, hacking in sci-fi and actions movies is hardly accurate. In the movie universe, hackers can infiltrate any \secure mainframe\" in the world with lightning-fast typing and a slew of techie jargon. But in reality, cybercriminals are more likely to use automated attacks or hacking kits purchased from the dark web. Most of these tools work to install malware, steal passwords or pilfer data - disruptive to be sure, but not quite as exhilarating as a Hollywood blockbuster.
But that's not to say that there haven't been some truly bizarre cyberattacks. Below are a few examples where truth was stranger than fiction.
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Church of Scientology vs. Low Orbit Ion Cannon
In 2008, the hacker collective Anonymous declared war on the Church of Scientology, believing the organization to be overly litigious and hostile to critics. The protest movement, dubbed Project Chanology, consisted of in-person demonstrations, prank phone calls and circulation of leaked church materials.
Anonymous also provided its supporters with a low orbit ion cannon (LOIC), a popular botnet software, to flood the church's website until it collapsed.
In the end, the Church of Scientology received a lot more media attention than they would have liked and the group Anonymous coalesced around cyber activism.
If there is a fire, car collision or break in, who you gonna call? That's right, 9-1-1. However, one hacker made it impossible to do just that by inundating the emergency hotline with bogus phone calls.
The 18-year-old cyber vandal launched the attack from a smartphone by posting a link on Twitter. When the link was clicked, it commanded a botnet of mobile phones to dial 9-1-1, thereby overwhelming the call center.
The teen has since been charged.
Teens Crack the CIA
Here is one of the more oddball cyberattacks in recent history. A duo of inebriated high-schoolers known as \"Crackas With Attitude\" (CWA) allegedly hacked CIA Director John Brennan and stole employee social security numbers, contact information and sensitive materials from his personal email.
The CWA boys were able to pull off this digital heist by social engineering Verizon to reset Brennan's AOL address. When asked how difficult this was to complete, one of the teens gave the operation a \"1 out of 10.\"
If a couple of teens can infiltrate the highest levels of the intelligence community, what chance does your small business stand?
Epilepsy Forum Vandalized
Following Project Chanology, there was a minor schism within Anonymous between the moralists who wanted to use the collective for social change and the 'griefers' who thought the group should return to its roots of online trolling. This internal conflict led some members to launch a grievous attack against an epilepsy support forum.
Vandals posted flashing computer animations on the site to trigger migraine headaches and seizures in people with photosensitive of pattern-sensitive epilepsy. One woman reported her worst epileptic episode in a year due to the attack.
However, some conspiratorial thinkers have blamed the attack on various third parties hell bent on destroying Anon's reputation.
So, what have we learned today? Hackers are often unpredictable in their methods and merciless in their attacks. It is absolutely imperative that SMBs protect themselves with a cyber insurance policy from a reputable provider like CyberPolicy.
As far as digitally-induced seizures, sadly there is no cyber insurance policy for that. Stay safe and stay healthy, everyone!