Many of the largest hacks that have occurred were orchestrated not by individuals but by organized hacker groups.
In this article, we take a look at seven of the most notorious hacking groups in the world.
Anonymous has an extensive portfolio of victims from government institutions to multinational companies. It is a decentralized hacking group known most for its hacktivism and Guy Fawkes masks.
Top on its victim list is the Pentagon, the headquarters building of the United States Department of Defense. Most of the group’s attacks have been backed by a specific reason.
For instance, the group hacked Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal in 2012’s Operation Payback for after they refused to process payments to WikiLeaks. What’s more, Anonymous also jumped into action during Occupy Wall Street by hacking the New York Stock Exchange website.
Lizard Squad is another notorious hacker group. This underground organization has claimed responsibility for two major attacks. The first and the biggest of them is their DDOS attack on Facebook, which put the social media network offline. The second was an attack on Malaysia Airlines.
Malaysia Airlines disputed the hack, stating it was as mere redirection of their domain. Another big hacking event involving them is the hack of Microsoft Xbox Live and Sony’s Playstation Network in August 2014.
Authorities made arrests in England and the US after the Sony hack included them placing the ISIS flag on Sony’s server. The Lizard Squad hacker group also claims they took the internet of North Korea down with a DDoS attack.
Lulz Security (LulzSec) came into existence as an Anonymous spinoff after the HBGary Federal hack of 2011. LulzSec has a motto that states “Laughing at your security since 2011.” This hacker group took the CIA site offline.
During its initial years, LulzSec also hacked Fox.com, then Sony Pictures. LulzSec is also known for taunting victims after an attack just like a prank. A statement called the “50 Days of Lulz” announced the break up of the group in June 2011. Nevertheless, the group returned with an attack on the News Corporation in July 2018.
In 2012, the FBI arrested LulzSec members after the group’s leader, Sabu, turned them in.
Chaos Computer Club (CCC)
Founded in Berlin during the early 1980s, Chaos Computer Club (CCC) is reportedly the largest hacker group in Europe. Chaos Computer Club mainly focuses on testing the security of platforms on the internet and identifying various flaws.
The landmark of Chaos Computer Club operation was their hack of Hamburg Bank where they took 134,000 Deutsche Mark. They returned the money the next day.
Most importantly, this act made them a more welcomed hacking institution known for stress testing the security infrastructure of online platforms. Discussing the hack with OWNI, early CCC member Andy Müller-Maguhn stated: “We needed a lot of legal experts to advise us what we could or could not hack, and to help us distinguish between legal activities and grey areas of legality”.
Other interesting exploits of the Chaos Computer Club hacker group include a protest against French nuclear tests, hacking finance apps on live TV via Microsoft’s ActiveX; exploiting the COMP128 encryption algorithm of a GSM customer card, and analyzing the German federal government’s malware.
Syrian Electronic Army
The Syrian Electronic Army is a hacking group that sympathizes with Syria and has shown support for the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The group targets organizations that have shown opposition to the state of Syria.
Attacks from the Syrian Electronic Army make use of spamming, defacement, malware, phishing, and denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Oftentimes, the group leaves the Syrian flag on a victim’s website.
Syrian Electronic Army has taken an ironic and jovial tone over the years. For instance, the notorious hacker group tweeted from BBC Weather: “Saudi weather station down due to head on-collision with camel”.
According to Iran, the US and Isreal created a virus called Stuxnet that jeopardized the country’s nuclear power ambitions. After this attack, the Tarh Andishan hacker group sprang up as a response.
The group includes up of 20 members mostly based in Tehran, Iran according to recent estimates. One of its biggest attacks is its series of attacks which gave them access to airline gates and security systems in South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
Iran’s Tarh Andishan uses self-propagating software, systems, backdoors, code injection, and other techniques.
North Korea is a name you don’t hear often regarding developments on the internet. However, all of that changed after the famous Sony hack in November 2014.
Bureau 121 is a North Korea-based hacking group rumored to be run by their government. According to defectors, military hackers live extravagant lives in North Korea. The government also makes a conscious effort to handpick top students from the “University of Automation.”
The group also operated proxies around the world due to North Korea’s poor internet infrastructure. The attack on Sony in 2014 was a proxy attack. That particular hack cost Sony about $15 million.
Interested in watching how these hacker groups operate? Check out our list of Best Hacker Movies and Documentaries to learn more!