4 Successful Cyber-attacks and How they Should Have Been Prevented

By J Broyles •  Updated: 01/14/23 •  5 min read

Cyber attacks have constantly threatened businesses of all sizes and industries. In the past few years, we have seen a significant increase in the number and severity of cyber attacks, with high-profile incidents such as the WannaCry ransomware attack and the Equifax data breach making headlines worldwide.

While it is important to stay informed about the latest threats and vulnerabilities, it is also valuable to study past cyber-attacks and learn from the mistakes of others. This article will look closely at some case studies of successful cyber attacks and discuss how they could have been prevented.

  1. WannaCry Ransomware Attack

In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack spread rapidly across the globe, infecting more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries. The attack used a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that had been previously identified by the National Security Agency (NSA) and leaked by a hacking group known as the Shadow Brokers.

The WannaCry attack was particularly devastating because it spread quickly through networks, encrypting files and demanding a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin. Many organizations, including hospitals and government agencies, were forced to shut down their systems and pay a ransom to regain access to their data.

How it could have been prevented:

  1. Equifax Data Breach

In 2017, credit reporting agency Equifax announced that a data breach had exposed the personal information of 143 million customers, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. The breach resulted from a vulnerability in the company’s website software that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had identified in March of that year.

The Equifax data breach was particularly damaging because of the sensitive nature of the exposed information. The company faced intense criticism and legal action after the breach, and its stock price dropped significantly.

How it could have been prevented:

  1. Target Data Breach

In 2013, retail giant Target announced that a data breach had exposed the credit and debit card information of 40 million customers. The breach resulted from a vulnerability in the company’s network that was exploited by attackers who used the credentials of a third-party vendor to gain access.

The Target data breach was particularly damaging because of the sensitive nature of the exposed information and the fact that it occurred during the busy holiday shopping season. The company faced intense criticism and legal action after the breach, and its stock price dropped significantly.

How it could have been prevented:

  1. Sony Pictures Hack

In November 2014, a group of hackers known as the “Guardians of Peace” launched a cyber attack against Sony Pictures, stealing a large amount of sensitive data, including confidential files and emails. The hackers also released some of the stolen data online, causing significant embarrassment and damage to the company’s reputation.

The Sony Pictures hack was particularly damaging because of the sensitive nature of the stolen information and the fact that it was a high-profile attack on a major corporation. The company faced intense criticism and legal action in the aftermath of the hack.

How it could have been prevented:

Conclusion

These case studies of successful cyber attacks demonstrate the importance of staying informed about the latest threats and vulnerabilities and taking proactive measures to protect your organization from cyber-attacks. By understanding how these attacks occurred and how they could have been prevented, organizations can take steps to protect themselves from similar incidents in the future.

This includes regularly monitoring the network for suspicious activity, keeping systems and software up-to-date with the latest patches and security updates, implementing an incident response plan, and regularly security assessment and penetration testing. The most important of all is to have a regular backup of the data, which would help the organization to restore the data in case of any attack.