World Computer Security Day: Five biggest ‘hack’ jobs of the decade, and how you can keep safe

The New Indian Express recalls the five worst cases of hacking to hit the digital world in the past decade, and tells you how to take precautions to secure your data.

Published: 30th November 2016 07:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 30th November 2016 07:06 PM   |  A+A-

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File photo for representational purpose | AP

By Online Desk

Living in a world that is going ever digital, especially now with demonetisation and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to transact through e-wallets, it puts the spotlight on how secure the online world is. 

Accounts have been hacked en masse in many spectacular failures of online security. Many of these involved financial transactions and the leaking of customer data. On World Computer Security Day, November 30, The New Indian Express recalls the five worst cases of hacking to hit the digital world in the past decade, and tells you how to take precautions to secure your data.

  1. The Yahoo data breach: In September 2016, Yahoo revealed details of a massive data breach in their servers, which would affect close to 500 million users. Yahoo later asked its users to reset their passwords themselves.
  2. US Athletes’ details leak: This was done by a Russia-based group called the ‘Fancy Bears’ which hacked in to the World Anti-Doping Agency database (WADA) and released information about US Olympic Athletes who had taken Therapeutic Drug Use exceptions for certain banned drugs.
  3. Ashley Madison ‘expose’: This episode that took place back in 2015 revealed the personal and credit card details of people who were registered with the Ashley Madison website, which promoted extra-marital flings.
  4. Sony Entertainment Hack: This 2014 incident saw details about Sony employees, email communications and unreleased copies of Sony Entertainment Movies like ‘The Interview’ laid bare. The source of the breach was later located to a state-sponsored player outside the US and it was speculated that it was in response to ‘The Interview’ which spoofed the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
  5. Stuxnet Virus attack: This was designed by the US to disable Iran’s Nuclear refinement programme by introducing a Trojan worm which slowly infects computer systems which carry out the refining of nuclear fuel.

Besides these, one of the most widely-discussed cases of hacking took place during the thick of the US election campaign, when Russian hackers are said to have sneaked into the servers on which emails of the Democratic National Convention were being sent and leaked details to the press which were unfavourable to Hillary Clinton, who went on to lose the election.

India too has not been immune to hacking attempts. It is believed that most security breaches here have been caused by the cyber warfare between India and Pakistan, which in some instances saw government websites defaced. One of the more serious breaches was the Indian Debit Card hacking this year.

This data breach affected 32 lakh debit cards of SBI, Axis bank, HDFC, ICICI and YES bank. It prompted the banks to issue new cards to those whose cards had been blocked by the hackers.

How then do you keep your online data safe. Here are a few dos and don’ts for net surfing, email, social media and online banking.

  1. Change your passwords regularly.
  2. Use two-step authentications on websites and social media/ email accounts wherever possible.
  3. Look for the padlock on the address bar; it means it is a secure page for online transactions
  4. Use on-screen keyboard for banking websites to prevent key loggers that will record your keystrokes.
  5. Check regularly the activity logs of your social networking site and email account for suspicious activity and unknown logins.
  6. Don’t open mails with attachments if the subject line says urgent or important or lottery or anything related to money.
  7. Do not respond to people over phone who claim they are from your bank and ask for card and credit details. Instead, visit your nearest branch to complete KYC and other banking formalities.
  8. Change Debit/credit card ATM pin often and do not let the card out of sight at restaurants and petrol bunks. Instead, get up and visit the counter and swipe your card and enter the pin.


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