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10 Most Unexpected Hacks of 2016

The frequency and severity of security hacks have been increasing at a much faster rate for the past half-decade or so than was earlier the case. In today’s age of the internet where every business is going digital and all information is available on the web, hackers go after data and not money directly.

10 Most Unexpected Hacks
Credit: Colin / Wikipedia

While the most notorious hacks are still directed towards global corporate firms, there are quite a few hacks that surprise everyone. Some of these hacks are just to cause problems for the victim, while others are to create havoc. Whatever is the case, the kind of hacks that are happening today befuddle security personnel to a great extent. Today, we cover 10 of the most unexpected hacks of 2016.

2016 Most Unexpected Hacks

  1. Panama Papers

This is one hack that everyone reading this article must have read or heard about, but would never have expected. The Panama Papers hack is the largest data leak ever, with 11.5 million documents amounting to 2.3 terabytes of data leaked by an unknown hacker. The Panama leak targeted Mossack Fonesca, a Panama based law firm that administers offshore firms for a yearly fee.

Their primary services relate to incorporating companies in offshore jurisdictions and tax havens like Cayman Islands. The leak revealed how the rich take advantage of such services and places to hide their money and keep from paying taxes. Many high profile personnel have been shown to be working in conjunction with Mossack Fonesca.

  1. LinkedIn accounts Hack

Four years ago, LinkedIn did not have a strong password protection regime in place to prevent its users. It paid a price for it when around 6.5 million LinkedIn accounts were compromised and their passwords posted on a Russian hacking website. LinkedIn reset the passwords of those affected and sent them a personal message as well.

However, it now turns out that the hack was much bigger than known earlier, for LinkedIn account passwords are being posted on hacking websites again. The accounts are up for sale. According to Motherboard’s report, about 117 million passwords are being sold.

  1. Jeep and Doge Hack

More than 30 Jeeps and Dodges had been hacked in Houston, Texas, by two hackers, who were directing the stolen vehicles to Mexico. The hackers used a laptop to hack cars right out of the driveways of unsuspecting victims and drove them away. This is another blow to the smart car industry, with researchers earlier showing other vulnerabilities that allowed them to override the brakes and steering wheels of cars at highway speeds. The two hackers have been apprehended by the police.

  1. Twitter account Hacks

OurMine, a three member hacking group, has been hacking online accounts of high profile personnel this year. They had first hacked Mark Zuckerberg’s Pinterest and Twitter accounts and then gained access to Sunder Pichai’s, the new Google CEO, quora account.

Pichai’s quora account was linked to his Twitter account, which allowed the group to post on his behalf. OurMine does not post anything damaging, but only markets itself as a security firm, asking its victims to seek their help in improving their security. The kind of targets they have, they sure are in for busy times ahead.

  1. HEI Hotels and Resorts Hack

In a shocking revelation, HEI Hotels and Resorts revealed that they had been notified by their card processor that 20 of their hotels across 10 states in USA could have been affected by a malware. The malware, installed on their payment processing systems at certain sites, captured sensitive card information. It could have even compromised information like customer’s name, card expiration date, verification code, etc.

  1. uTorrent Forum Hack

uTorrent, the largest and most popular Torrent client, notified its users that one of their other clients had been breached by hackers, and the hackers had subsequently got their hands on some uTorrent accounts as well.

Used by 150 million users every month, uTorrent claimed that it did not know how much information was compromised in this hack, but requested the members to update their passwords nevertheless. Moreover, it advised members to change the passwords on their other online accounts if they used the same passwords there as with their uTorrent accounts.

  1. Pornhub Hack

Pornhub, the most popular porn website in the world, was hacked earlier this year, with the user preference of many users accessed by the hackers. Pornhub receives 60 million visits each day and has a huge user network. The hackers were able to bypass Pornhub’s security and access personal preference of its users.

However, this hack was not dangerous, but surprising all the same. This is because the hack was funded by Pornhub itself, as a bug-bounty program. The hackers were given a reward of 20,000 pounds for successfully hacking into Pornhub. It’s surprising, though, that a porn website is going to such lengths to secure its network.

  1. Tumblr Hack

Tumblr has been in the news for a few months now as its impending acquisition by Yahoo edges ever closer. However, the company only recently revealed a data breach it had experienced three years ago when millions of email addresses and passwords were stolen from their database. Although Tumblr states that the passwords are impossible to decode, given its practise of salting and hashing them during the encryption process, more than 65 million accounts have been made available on the deep web.

  1. Traffic signs Hack

A traffic sign in Cobb County was hacked in July 2016, with the hackers displaying an anti-police profane message on the traffic signal. The hacked sign was on Johnson Ferry Road, close to Sewer Mill Road, in the county. Many of the residents in the area were terribly upset by the whole incident, as the people in the area respect the police and take this as a huge embarrassment.

  1. Bitcoin Hack

Almost 120,000 Bitcoin units, amounting to $72 million, were stolen from Bitfinex in Hong Kong earlier this year. Bitfinex is the largest dollar-based exchange for Bitcoin in the world, and this hack is the second largest breach of an exchange like this. It was reported that the Bitcoins were stolen from the segregated wallets of users.

As to how the crypto-currency would reimburse their users, they were at a loss of words. The entire incident is a tight slap in the face of Bitcoin, who pride themselves in the security of their service.

Conclusion

This article highlighted some of the unexpected and most surprising hacks of 2016 so far. As can be seen, most of these hacks were not as damaging in terms of cost to the victims as they are to the reputation of the companies involved.

In the case of the Jeep hack, the hacks highlight the standing issues in technology like IoT. The Panama Papers leak was damaging to those involved in it, but is considered a social service for others, for it reveals to the world how the rich find ways to evade tax authorities.

The Twitter accounts hacks by OurMine were used to advertise the company. They certainly raised a few eyebrows with the people they targeted, but no harm was done. All in all, it can be seen that hacks are not always bad and damaging, but they always arise due to some fault or the other in the security system of the victim.

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