Which countries have the most dangerous hackers?
Hackers can trigger political crises that will last for years, in one case in the US to this day. In spring 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton campaigned against Donald Trump, the Republican candidate. Suddenly it rained dubious emails on her closest circle and the election campaign committee of the Democrats (DNC): so-called spearphishing emails, which were tailored to Clinton's helpers. They looked like official messages from Google, announcing that suspects had tried to break into the recipient's email inbox. He must change his password quickly. However, clicking on the corresponding link did not lead to Google, but to a manipulated page of the hackers. There they could pick up that password and thus had access to internal e-mails of the Democrats. S.ocial engineering Experts call this hacking technique, a form of social manipulation. Except that in this case not only Clinton's inner circle should be manipulated, but an entire country by influencing the election.
The drama began: 150,000 of these internal emails ended up with Wikileaks creator Julian Assange, who published them. US media eagerly picked up on alleged and actual scandals from the inner workings of the party. In the middle of the hottest phase of the election campaign, Clinton's team stood as a clique of elite schemers. Trump won the election, even after the US secret services held Russia responsible for the attack in a special investigation. However, it has not been proven that the election was actually made in favor of Trump by the hacking attack.
It was just one of many cyber attacks against democratic structures. Several traces of the DNC hack reminded experts of a digital attack that rocked politics in Berlin in 2015. More than a dozen members of the Bundestag had been covered with phishing emails. The hackers made it into the internal systems, where they went undetected for six months. 15 gigabytes of data flowed out, whereabouts unclear. Chancellor Angela Merkel's email inbox was also affected. In May of this year, the Federal Prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for a Russian who is said to belong to the state's elite hacker group APT28.
The really big hacks are not always about purely political goals. In 2016, a group compromised the central bank of Bangladesh in an ingenious operation. On their behalf, she began to siphon a billion dollars from the organization's Swift system for worldwide money transfers. Just because a spelling mistake on behalf of the recipient made bankers suspicious while the attack was ongoing, only 81 million ended up flowing into dubious attackers' channels. The US has charged Park Jin Hyok with the digital bank robbery. As part of North Korea's "Lazarus" hacking group, he is said to have used the hack to procure foreign currency for the regime.
North Korea's "superhacker" is also said to be behind the Wannacry software. This computer worm attacked more than 100,000 computers in 150 countries in 2017. The ransomware encrypted their victims' computers. In order to unlock the data again, the anonymous attackers demanded a ransom. Computers and magnetic resonance tomographs stood still in hospitals and heart operations had to be canceled. Car factories could no longer produce.
And who pays for it? The attacks have become so widespread that some insurance companies have refused to pay for the damage. According to the US government, the ransomware software NotPetya from 2017 is said to have caused ten billion dollars in damage to companies. Zurich insurance does not want to step in. She classifies the hack as an "act of war" and war is not included in the insurance. This debate will preoccupy companies and their insurance companies in the years to come.
However, hackers from the secret service who can fall back on the state budget do not necessarily need to gain access to secret data from authorities. In 2001, the Scotsman Gary McKinnon is said to have broken into computers belonging to the NASA space agency and the Pentagon, which were protected with miserable passwords and firewalls. After ten years of dispute between the United States and Great Britain, London finally refused extradition in 2012 because of McKinnon's Asperger's Syndrome and depression. The hacker hadn't been on the road for a client, but on his own. He had searched the NASA computers for evidence that the US is keeping information about extraterrestrial UFOs secret.
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