Kitchen Hacks = Good | Computer Hacking = Get a Life!

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The Most Egregious

Hack(er)s

of All-Time

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We are fortunate to live in an incredibly advanced age, where we can buy things on Amazon and have them at our doorstep within a day or two, instantly communicate with anyone around the globe, and have access to precisely all of the “crying Michael Jordan” memes ever created.

But with that massive power at our fingertips comes immense responsibility and an even greater need for security. Hackers have wormed their way into the very fabric of our lives. Sometimes the damage can be fixed with a simple virus protection program. Other times it can bring a country to its knees. These are some of the most egregious  hacks ever unleashed upon the world.

10. The Bitcoin hack

Cryptocurrency is a concept that not a lot of people understand, let alone use. But the people that use it, really use it. Basically, it’s a digital currency that uses encryption security measures, and is independent of a normal bank. There’s no physical, tangible money. You might ask, “but that doesn’t seem like it’s real,” and we would probably agree.

Nonetheless, many people online have fallen for adopted cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, though those numbers may have dipped since a major hack in 2018 by cyberthieves. A major Bitcoin company in South Korea lost about 30 percent of its virtual money holdings, which led to about a 30 billion dollars loss for cryptocurrency overall in just seven hours of trading. It caused the price of Bitcoin itself to drop around 7 percent almost instantly. This is all interesting, in that the very idea of cryptocurrency is its inherent safety, which is paramount online. The fact that an encrypted digital currency can be undone in a day of hacking raises strong concerns about its longevity.

9. The Conficker worm

2008 may not seem very long ago, but in the digital age, that’s like decades. Whole hardware and operating systems that were ubiquitous at the time have been rendered obsolete. So it’s strange to hear that a simple computer virus that was prevalent at the time is still loitering around the digital wasteland.

The Conficker worm was discovered in 2008, when it infected around 15 million computers due to its ability to be shared easily, and spread through software and removable media devices. This virus is different, though. Conficker doesn’t even steal data — it’s method is to spread to as many computers as possible and disrupt things that way. And even as recently as 2017, there were several million successful infections of computers. That’s some serious service time for a bug. One of the most common ways it happens are unpatched computers on a network. Word to the wise: those annoying software updates are your friends.

8. The Iran nuke hack

The 1983 Matthew Broderick movie WarGames dealt with the vulnerabilities of military systems to motivated hackers. In the film, he toyed with the defense department and eventually scared the pants off everyone, making it seem like a Russian nuke launch was imminent. You would think the systems in place to make a nuclear winter possible would be secure enough to not be susceptible to computer shenanigans, right?

Well, the country of Iran would tell you it’s not that absurd. In 2010, a virus named Stuxnet invaded their nuclear systems, a product of Israeli-American computer wizardry. The virus targeted Iran’s centrifuges, which helped to enrich uranium that would be used for nuclear weapons. The bug would spin those centrifuges until they busted, all while reporting everything was normal. Eventually, up to 20 percent of the country’s centrifuges were useless. And this was over the course of a couple of years. Everything was going fine until Israel ramped up the program to be more aggressive, and Iran became wise to the plan. It has since set off a rash of hacked public services and secret government programs around the globe. All hailing from a tiny virus no bigger than 500 kilobytes.

7. Spamhaus

The Spamhaus Project is an organization whose entire purpose is the tracking and fighting of spam. They hate spam. The group scours the internet to find the worst of the spammers and compile them into a list. Some estimates put their success rate at 80 percent. 80 percent…of all the spam that gets blocked, like, ever.

One group that drew the ire of Spamhaus was CyberBunker. CyberBunker stores the data and content of literally almost anyone except for “child porn and anything related to terrorism.” Their words. Spamhaus blacklisted CyberBunker, claiming they allow themselves to be used as a host for megaspammers. CyberBunker didn’t react well to being ostracized, and though they claim they had nothing to do with it, someone likely took their side and initiated the largest cyber attack in history. In what’s called a DDoS attack, where a website is flooded with requests to the point of crashing, Spamhaus was knocked offline and Internet around the globe was slowed down. A reported 100,000 servers were used to inundate the site, and more bandwidth was taken up than any other attack ever attempted. That is a serious overreaction to wanting less ads for genital enhancement in peoples’ inboxes.

6. The Melissa virus

Ah, the growing pains of the early Internet Age. It seems so innocent, but even as your AOL connection page starting screeching its demonic language, there could have been one of the early Net viruses worming its way into your prehistoric computers.

The Melissa virus of 1999 was a document widely shared online, in which there were promises of all sorts of passwords to get into paid porn sites. The document attachment to the emails were opened, a bum Microsoft Word doc opened, and the Melissa virus took over from there. It would then hack into the user’s email program and mass-send itself to fifty of the recipient’s contacts. There wasn’t much those days that was sensitive on peoples’ computers, but it did wreak havoc on the business world, shutting down servers at companies as big as Microsoft. All told, the virus hit up more than a million computers and affected 20 percent of North American businesses, while racking up $80 million in computer damages.

5. The Fappening

Surely it’s not surprising that in the digital age, people are taking advantage of apps like Snapchat and other texting options to send each other photos of their nether bits. It becomes an even bigger deal when we find out celebrities are doing the same things we are. Going back to leaked sex tapes of Kim Kardashian and Pam and Tommy Lee, the spectre of celebrity genitalia sets the world on fire. But nothing on the level of 2014’s mass image dump of hacked iCloud photos, lovably known as “The Fappening.”

Almost 500 photos were leaked to the notorious 4chan site of celebrities in the buff, stolen from private iCloud accounts. Apple itself has seemingly had the reputation of being a closed system that is much more difficult to hack, but those responsible were well-versed in a technique called “spear phishing”, which involves gathering all the personal info on a target possible to hack their sensitive material. The FBI was quick on the case, eventually tracking the work to a few hackers spread throughout the United States, and they earned varying prison stints for their actions.

4. 2016 FBI hack

One Justice Department employee’s email account. That’s all it took for a hacker to become privy to every single person who works for the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. From that compromised account, he was able to download roughly 200 GB of incredibly sensitive info, like a real version of the Mission: Impossible NOC list. He then tricked a DOJ rep into giving him access to the database itself.

The names, rank, and personal information of nearly 30,000 employees who work in a very guarded profession immediately had their cover blown. Phone numbers and email addresses were made public, and the hacker stated he had credit card numbers as well. The hacks were apparently done by someone with pro-Palestine sympathies. That someone, it turns out, was a 16-year-old teenager living in England.

3. One writer at Wired has his whole life erased and all his gadgets frozen in minutes

Mat Honan was a tech writer for the Wired site in 2012. When hackers wormed their way into his Google account, he became a nobody. In the space of an hour.

At first, the hackers made eight years of email correspondences vanish. They took to Twitter next to issue homophobic slurs and racist rants, before deleting photos off of his Apple devices. They invaded every corner of his digital life. Think of every interaction or post or photo you’ve been a part of in your existence on the Internet. They thought of that too, and made him basically disappear, digitally speaking. Once his Apple ID was compromised, they remotely erased every single thing throughout all of his devices.

He could have stopped the hackers in their tracks early if he had utilized the extra layer of security Google offers (his fault), but once they started exploiting security lapses within Amazon and Apple, they were able to unleash much more damage (not his fault). Through it all, the hacker, known as Phobia, was in constant contact. Phobia still hasn’t had to pay for his actions, though investigators may be getting closer to finding out his identity.

2. OPM hack

We mentioned earlier how FBI and Department of Homeland Security personnel information was severely compromised in 2016. Well, just a year before that, another government agency found that they had been hacked. This time, it was the Office of Personnel Management, which is in charge of all the civilians working for the U.S. government.

The OPM’s IT department came across the hack first, when they noticed a bunch of forms used for background checks for their employees had been whisked away. And by a bunch, we mean millions. Oh, and they fingerprint records, too. The hack itself had been in progress for the previous two years, and the OPM was actually onto them by 2014, but allowed them to keep working to gain intelligence on them. Unfortunately for millions and millions of civilian government employees, this extra time just allowed the hackers to gain more and more clearance into the OPM’s systems. The attacks were blamed on China-backed hackers, and in 2017, a Chinese man was arrested for reasons related to the OPM hack, even though it wasn’t directly stated.

1. DNC and election hack

There has been a veritable storm of crap related to Russia and just how far they got influencing the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It’s such an all-encompassing story and the tentacles spread so far that it’s almost impossible to wrap one’s head around the main crux of it all: that election systems in every state and the Democratic National Committee itself were hacked in 2016, and that Russian hackers were likely behind it all.

DNC servers had Russian digital fingerprints all over it, it was discovered in June that year, and had likely been compromised for almost a year. Using malware, they published documents clearly meant to turn the elections in the Republicans’ favor. It went further. Other hackers went after the election cyber infrastructure located in each state, attacking them and pulling voter registrations and sample ballots. And while it’s not clear if they were able to actually change votes, we may never know just how far the hackers made it into one of America’s most revered institutions.


Kitchen Hack = Good

Computer Hacking = Get a Life

The Internet New & Old – WIF Non sequitur

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10 Things On The Internet

That Are Surprisingly Old

The Internet plays such an important role in our everyday life that it’s easy to forget it only become widespread in the last 15 years. Before then the Internet was used by a select few and far less often than it is now. Yet it may surprise you to know that there are things on the Internet that are far older than they initially seem to be. In some cases, the Internet is simply taking advantage of technology that’s decades old.

 

10. The “@” Symbol

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The “@” symbol has become one of the most easily recognizable and most used characters on a keyboard. Its importance in the use of emails, and now in social media, makes it seem like something that came along with the Internet. The truth though is that the symbol has had a much longer life, dating back at least 500 years.

There are numerous theories about who invented the symbol and what exactly it’s been used for in its long history. These include the proposition that it may have come evolved from other words, such as the Latin ‘ad’ and the French á, or that that it may have been a way for scribes to be more efficient in their writing.

The most widely accepted explanation is that it was used by merchants as useful shorthand for “at the rate of,” with the first documented use coming from aFlorentine merchant in 1536. Merchants used the symbol in this manner for a long period, but it eventually fell into obscurity until Ray Tomlinson decided to use the symbol to separate usernames from the computers that they were used on.

9. Email

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Since the early 2000s, the number of email accounts has grown significantly,with a 32% rise in the number of users between 2009 and 2013. People had largely been content with text messages and phone calls as their primary communication method before then.

However, that doesn’t mean that email wasn’t still around before. Hotmail, now known at Outlook, began life in 1996 and had over eight million subscribers by 1997. Email goes back even further than that — the system began as a way to send messages directly to another person’s file directory and was first used by MIT in 1965, although users could only send these messages to others on the same computer network. The first actual email that was sent over a network rather than a single computer system came in 1971 thanks to Ray Tomlinson, with the system soon becoming widespread in academic and military institutions.

8. Emoticons

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Emoticons are used in almost all forms of Internet communication, from message boards to emails to instant messages, but they have humble beginnings in Morse code. Early documents show that operators would useparticular numbers to express emotions and feelings as shorthand, something of a precursor to what emoticons would become. Then, in 1881, satirical magazine Puck published some typographical emoticons, though not with the same intention that they’re used today.

Graphical symbols used to express emotion became more mainstream thanks to the smiley face from Harvey Ball that inspired the creation of other graphics. The first use of emoticons from text used to express feelings came from Scott Fahlman on a message board in 1982. The use then spread across the webthrough other message boards and eventually evolved into what we use today.

7. Text Speak

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The fact that text speak came to the mainstream through SMS messaging means that it would have been moderately popular before most people were using the Internet regularly. SMS became standard in mobile phones from around 1999, even though it was first introduced in 1992.

The practice of using shorthand words and acronyms in messages has now become commonplace not just on smartphones but also in emails, instant messaging and chatrooms. The first time such a system was commonly used was with telegrams, where operators would often charge per character. This forced customers into being economical with their words, with coded expressions and agreed upon abbreviations used. But text speak goes back even further than telegrams — a collection held by the British Library shows documents from the 19th century using such abbreviations, while a letter from 1917 to Winston Churchill has an “OMG” contained in it, with the writer even explaining the term.

6. Electronic Spam

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Junk mail and spam isn’t new. Mass-market printing allowed companies to send junk mail advertising their products or services through the mail, filling up people’s homes with paper that in nearly half of cases is thrown away unread.

The practice has now spread to the digital realm. In addition to physical paper filling up your mailbox, Internet users have the joy of having their inboxes bombarded by spam every single day. Having unwanted electronic advertisements sent directly to users is nothing new though — it’s over 150 years old.

In 1864, a dental surgery sent a large number of unsolicited telegrams to various people in London informing them of their new services. Predictably, most of the recipients were less than welcoming to what was the first instance of electronic spam. Other businesses soon followed that example and spam has been with us ever since.

5. Selfies

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The craze of people taking “selfies” has grown to such an extent that smartphones now come with front facing cameras to allow them to be taken much more easily. Whether it’s at a club, a concert or a tourist destination, you’ll probably see someone taking a photo of themselves on a fairly regular basis. Heck, even monkeys are getting in on the act.

And that’s nothing new. A letter from the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna speaks of a photograph that she took of herself in the mirror, much like the type of photos you see on Facebook. Similar photos from the same time exist, showing that the process was at least somewhat widespread. The first selfie is widely believed to be a photograph taken by Robert Cornelius. The American photographer created the portrait in 1839, making the selfie at least 175 years old.

4. Online Gaming

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Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and other platforms like Steam and Origin have made online gaming incredibly popular. They allow people to connect with others from all around the world to play a multitude of games. Online multiplayer has evolved to be one of the most important aspects of gaming, with developers spending as much time creating them as single player experiences.

While consoles like the Xbox have helped make online multiplayer mainstreamsince 2002, gamers have been able to play with others through the Internet for far longer. Doom was released in 1993 and became one of the most famous shooters of all time, thanks in part to its online deathmatch mode. Sega meanwhile introduced an online service in 1990 known as Meganet.

However, the first fully online game came out more than 40 years ago. John Daleske and Silas Warner created Empire in 1973, allowing players to control a spaceship and battle with up to 30 players at a time.

3. 419 Scams

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One of the most common types of spam that people receive today are 419 scams. These try to trick people into handing over their bank details so that a businessman or royal can smuggle money out of their country. In exchange for allowing your bank account to transfer the funds, they promise to pay the victim a share of the wealth.

Even before email was widespread, fraudsters commonly used the same con but with the assistance of snail mail. It was a popular scam at least 20 years ago in Nigeria, with criminals sending letters to victims through the postal system. And the basic outline of the con has been going since the 16th century — then it was known as the “Spanish Prisoner” scam and involved an apparent prisoner who needed someone to pay his bail so he could be released from jail. In exchange, the prisoner would give the victim a share of some treasure or savings.

2. Denial-of-service Attacks

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DoS attacks are actions designed to make a website, network or computer system unavailable. The attackers do this by flooding the target with requests so that it can’t communicate with legitimate users, effectively taking the target offline. The most common occurrence of DoS attacks happen when hackers try to take websites offline.

DoS attacks are far from the first time that a technique has been used to prevent technology from operating in its usual way. Black faxes were a common way for pranksters and disgruntled recipients of fax spam to get their revenge on companies. Essentially, the attackers would send a fax machine multiple pages filled entirely with black tone. This served a number of purposes. It forced the fax machine to use huge amounts of ink, which was expensive, and it forced the machine to shut down. The attack also stopped others from communicating through fax, potentially forcing the recipient from being able to conduct any of their business.

1. The Internet

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What most people think of as the Internet officially went live in 1991. But the World Wide Web, a way of searching the Internet using specific characters, was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. The CERN employee made the software for the World Wide Web available freely, which helped in getting users to adopt it and eventually made it widespread.

The Internet had humble beginnings in the 1960s thanks to networks such asARPANET. This allowed universities to communicate with each other over a closed system. Networks from that time weren’t compatible with others, preventing communication across separate networks. Later systems such asBITNET and USENET allowed users to access messages from different servers, yet there was still no real unifying system to connect all of the networks together until Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web.

WIF Non sequitur

WIF Production-001

– The Internet New & Old