As the internet becomes a primary source for everything from news and entertainment to commerce and business, it makes sense that groups and hackers would be busier than ever. Websites are far more vulnerable to attack than, for example, television stations and hackers of all types relish the thought of taking them down.
In some cases, it's a matter of cyber retribution for a perceived injustice. Others want to steal information while still others just want to see if they can do it. Whatever the case, 2010 has been a banner year for those who want to take down websites. From Gawker to Visa, virtually no one is safe. Here are our ten most spectacular cyber attacks of 2010.
10. Gene Simmons Technically, Gene Simmons, the man, wasn't hacked, but GeneSimmons.com and SimmonsRecords.com were shut down after comments he made in an interview about illegal file trading of music. "Be litigious. Sue everybody. Take their homes, their cars," the KISS bassist said 24 hours before his websites were downed by the hacker vigilante campaign Operation Payback. Given Simmons' giant ego, we doubt this will be last time he says something stupid and gets hacked as a result.
9. Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Inudstry of America (RIAA) There is one basic rule of the internet that should always be obeyed: don't fuck with 4chan. The popular internet site is "home" to a group that calls themselves "Anonymous" who execute attacks on websites via the "Operation Payback" campaign mentioned above. The group takes it very personally when you do something to offend them, whether it be throwing puppies in a river or going after a popular BitTorrent website like Pirate Bay. The retaliation for the latter came in the form of a DDoS attack on both the MPAA and RIAA websites keeping them offline for nearly a full day. Bottom line, 4chan is like a hornets nest filled with angry nerds. Don't poke at it and you won't get stung.
8. Pirate Bay Argentinian hacker Ch Russo cracked the administrative section of the popular file trading website and managed to delete files and expose user information. Russo claimed he was trying to demonstrate how vulnerable the information was. Point taken. There was a rumor that Russo planned to sell the user information to a third party, perhaps even groups like the RIAA or MPAA, who would certainly like to have it, but Russo denied the report, which is fortunate for him, because God only knows what 4chan would have done to him.
7. YouTube In still more 4chan-related news, they really don't like Justin Bieber. Not only did they manage to push "Justin Bieber Syphilis" to the top of Google Trends, but in July, they hacked YouTube posting pop-up windows on video pages and, for Bieber, re-directing his video pages to porn or malware websites.
6. Twitter If back in March you wondered why a bunch of your friends on Twitter thought you were fat, it wasn't because of your pudgy midsection. Hundreds of Twitter accounts were hacked and links to weight loss websites were posted in their feeds. In May, hackers hit Twitter again dropping celebrity follow lists to zero and forcing them to follow people they didn't request, which was more funny than tragic. 5. ImageShack Without ImageShack, how would we be able to see animated GIF's of Katy Perry's bouncing Elmo boobs or professional soccer fails? For a while, we almost found out as one of the world's largest image sharing sites, which includes the popular YFrog service used by many on Twitter, was hacked creating chaos for MySpace commenters who wanted to leave sparkly images on their friends' profile pages and Twitter food nerds who just had to Tweet iPhone images of their lunch. Fortunately for all of us, no files were lost and ImageShack was soon returned to normal. God knows, we couldn't live without pictures of fairies and frito pie.
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4. Gawker If there was ever an example of why everyone should use a variety of passwords with varying degrees of complexity, Gawker's comment database getting hacked would be it. The Gawker family of sites, which includes Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Lifehacker and Deadspin, saw its entire user database sliced and diced, compromising user names and passwords meaning if you had a Gawker account and used the same password there as you did in other places, you might want to change that like now.
3. Tea Party The Tea Party's rancorous political fury paved the way for a shift in the balance of power in Congress making them, as you might imagine, a prime target for hackers. A little over a month before the election, that pesky 4chan managed to hack TeaParty.org and replace photos in their photo section with LOLCat-style images like bears covered in show with the words "I FUCKING LOVE COCAINE!" on them by users named "dick licker." The Tea Party managed to straighten things out and it didn't seem to affect their performance at the polls.
2. MasterCard and Visa.com Earlier this month, Anonymous and their Operation Payback set their sites on anyone who didn't fully support WikiLeaks. In this case, it was MasterCard and Visa, who suspended donations for the online document leak organization. Both sites were crippled by DDoS attacks prompted by Anonymous. PayPal managed to block similar attacks made by the same group in retaliation for cutting off donations to WikiLeaks, but Visa and MasterCard weren't so lucky.
1. Wikileaks - dDos - http://mashable.com/2010/11/29/hacker-wikileaks/ Ironic that the source of one of the greatest leaks of confidential government information of all time was itself compromised. According to WikiLeaks, in early December, their website was taken down by a cyber attack they claim was instigated by the Chinese government. Apparently, the Chinese were upset about revelations that they may no longer fully support North Korea. The attack, along with Amazon.com dropping WikiLeaks from its servers, prompted the organization to create hundreds of mirror sites around the world to prevent the site from being easily targeted again. Now, if they could just reveal what "secret sauce" is, we'll all be safe from terror.