Cyber attacks are on the rise. Whilst modern technology presents many conveniences and benefits, there are people who misuse it which poses a threat to businesses and data privacy globally.
When data breaches happen, it can have a far-reaching impact. It goes beyond the target company, affecting customers, suppliers and more. Scarily, experts expect the cost of cybercrime to reach around $10.5 trillion by 2025.

We can always learn from the past, so let’s take a look at some of history’s biggest cyber attacks:

1. The Melissa Virus

One of the earliest and biggest cyber threats came from the Melissa Virus in 1999 by programmer David Lee Smith. He sent users a file to open via Microsoft Word, which held a virus. Once opened the virus activated causing severe damage to hundreds of companies, including Microsoft. It is estimated it cost $80 million to repair the affected systems.

2. NASA Cyber Attack

In 1999, 15-year-old James Jonathan hacked and shutdown NASA’s computers for 21 days! There were around 1.7 million software downloads during the attack, which cost the space giant around $41,000 in repairs.

3. The 2007 Estonia Cyber Attack

In April 2007, Estonia witnessed what is thought to be the first cyber attack on an entire county. Chiefly, it saw around 58 Estonian websites go offline, including government, bank and media websites.

4. A Cyber Attack on Sony’s PlayStation Network

A cyber attack on Sony’s PlayStation Network in April 2011 compromised the personal information of 77 million users.

5. Adobe Cyber Attack

The Adobe cyber attack was first thought to have breached the data of 2.9 million users. Moreover, it compromised the personal data of up to 38 million users! Adobe claims that only the passwords and credit card information of the first 2.9 million users were compromised, however, the remaining 35.1 million suffered the loss of their passwords and user IDs.

6. The 2014 Cyber Attack on Yahoo

In 2014, Yahoo was subject to one of the biggest cyber attacks of the year when 500 million accounts were compromised. During the attack, basic information and passwords were stolen, whereas bank information was not.

7. Ukraine’s Power Grid Attack

The Ukraine’s power grid attack in 2015 was the first cyberattack on a power grid. As a result of the attack, around half of the homes in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of the Ukraine were without power for a few hours.

8. 2017 WannaCry Ransomware Cyber Attack

One of the biggest ransomware attacks of all time took place in 2017. Furthermore, it affected around 200,000 computers in over 150 countries. To sum up, the ransomware had a huge impact on several industries with a global cost of around 6 billion pounds to fix!

9. A Cyber Attack on Marriott Hotels 

A cyber attack on the Marriott hotels and Starwood hotels group went undetected for years, which only came to light in 2018.  Thus, by the time they became aware of the attack, an estimated 339 million guests had their data compromised. Consequently, the UK’s data privacy watchdog fined the Marriott Hotels 18.4 million pounds.

10. The biggest password leak yet

In June 2021, we saw a compilation of about 8.4 billion passwords leaked in the RockYou2021 attack. In fact, it was the largest breach since the RockYou site in 2009 which affected 32 million accounts.
While technology and data security tools continue to evolve, so do the tactics that cyber criminals use to trick business and employees into clicking on links and documents within emails. Therefore, to help businesses prepare, our blog on 10 steps to protect your business from cybercrime highlights easy ways to protect your business from cybercrime.

If you would like to learn more about protecting your business from cybercrime and the benefits of cyber insurance, contact us today for a chat.

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