A Compilation of the Most Disturbing Cyberattacks: A Ranking of the Top Five


Cyberattacks are a significant concern for organisations in the present day. Cyberattacks may result in severe repercussions, whether conducted by malware, phishing, Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, or SQL injections. Organisations are increasingly relying on IT support services to protect critical systems and confidential information in response to cybersecurity risks. If one needs IT help, there is no need for concern as there are several IT support companies available. To have a comprehensive understanding of the repercussions of inadequate cybersecurity measures, let us examine five of the most alarming cyberattacks in recent history.

Equifax – 2017

Equifax, an American credit agency, suffered a severe data breach from May to July 2017. This cybercrime, which included the compromising of private documents belonging to little over 147 million Americans, 15 million Britons, and 19,000 Canadians, stands as one of the most significant instances of identity theft. The dataset included confidential personal information, including extremely sensitive details such as individuals’ names, dates of birth, social security numbers, driver’s licence numbers, and telephone numbers. Undoubtedly, the significant breach had a profound effect on both the agency and its clients, who were profoundly distressed upon learning that confidential personal data was exposed.

Equifax faced criticism for its inadequate security policies subsequent to the attack. The hackers gained unauthorised access to the confidential information via the company’s online dispute web portal application in the United States. This was made possible by an unaddressed security vulnerability on an Apache Struts server, which had been previously communicated to the firm some months before. Following the revelation of the breach, a multitude of lawsuits were initiated against the corporation. In 2019, Equifax reached a settlement amounting to $575 million, however, it has been claimed that the expenses for cleaning up the situation are closer to $1.4 billion. This occurrence serves as evidence that placing cybersecurity as a top priority is indeed advantageous.

NotPetya – 2017

The NotPetya virus caused significant harm to devices worldwide in June 2017. NotPetya caused significant harm because to its disguised nature as ransomware, which deceived individuals into downloading and deploying the malicious software. Nevertheless, in contrast to conventional ransomware, consumers were unable to retrieve the data, resulting in a prolonged disruption of corporate activities.

The assault, which had a global impact on corporations, originated in Ukraine. The infection disseminated via a software update for M.E.Doc, a widely used tax accounting programme in the nation, thereafter propagating worldwide. The repercussions were disastrous—international corporations like Maersk, Merck, and TNT Express experienced significant difficulties. The estimated financial losses resulting from NotPetya are around $10 billion. The NotPetya assault was a poignant illustration of the susceptibilities that may manifest in digital systems, underscoring the need of frequent software upgrades and resilient cybersecurity protocols.

WannaCry – 2017

Undoubtedly, the year 2017 saw a significant surge in cyberattacks. The WannaCry ransomware attack, which occurred in May 2017, was focused on computers operating on the Microsoft Windows platform. This assault included the encryption of user data and the subsequent demand for Bitcoin ransom payments. The assault took use of a programme known as Eternal Blue, which was created by the US National Security Agency. This tool was disclosed to a group named The Shadow Brokers one month before to the attack. In spite of Microsoft’s proactive issuance of preventive patches, several businesses exhibited a failure to upgrade their systems, mostly attributable to the use of obsolete Windows versions or a lack of awareness of the significance and immediacy of the patch.

In a span of 24 hours, the malevolent malware was documented to have compromised more than 230,000 computer systems across more than 150 nations. WannaCry had a significant effect on several prominent entities, including as the National Health Service (NHS), Renault, FedEx, and the Bank of China. Fortunately, the propagation of WannaCry was impeded upon the identification of a kill switch inside the code by a researcher, so effectively neutralising the associated danger. The occurrence sent a distinct message to entities on the need of maintaining stringent cybersecurity protocols.

Yahoo – 2014

Yahoo had a massive data breach in 2014, impacting more than 3 billion user accounts. One notable feature of this event is the public announcement made by Yahoo on the breach, which happened over two years subsequent to the data being accessed. It was not until 2012 that the full magnitude of the breach was revealed. Confidential user data was acquired, including individuals’ names, dates of birth, email addresses, hashed passwords, telephone numbers, as well as encrypted and unencrypted security inquiries and responses. The breach had a profound impact, particularly due to its delayed detection.

One may inquire about the manner in which the breach occurred. In 2014, Yahoo workers were targeted by a spear-phishing attempt, marking the beginning of the breach. The exact number of workers targeted and the quantity of emails sent remain uncertain; nonetheless, the initiation of pandemonium was triggered by the action of a single individual who clicked on a hyperlink. Yahoo suffered catastrophic repercussions as a result of the leak. As a consequence of the security compromise, Verizon Communications reduced Yahoo’s purchase price by $350 million, resulting in substantial harm to the company’s image. The Yahoo data hack serves as a significant illustration of the criticality of providing security awareness training to employees.

Stuxnet – 2010

In 2010, a malevolent computer virus called Stuxnet caused widespread destruction in Iran. The most remarkable aspect of this hack is its specific objective: to cause tangible physical harm rather than financial or informational harm. Stuxnet mostly focused on Iran’s nuclear facilities, permanently altering the landscape of cyber warfare. The worm was specifically engineered to capitalise on many zero-day vulnerabilities present in the Windows operating system, which is characterised by the absence of any official patch or security update.

Stuxnet caused significant damage to around 900 nuclear centrifuges in Iran, resulting in a substantial setback to the country’s nuclear programme. The malevolent virus underscored the need of stringent security protocols for vital infrastructure, although that is not the only aspect. Furthermore, it demonstrated the profound impact of cyber warfare, given the very challenging nature of identifying the sources of such assaults.


Technological progress introduces new susceptibilities: the two are closely interconnected. The aforementioned assaults, including significant data breaches and virus attacks, exemplify the detrimental consequences that may arise from inadequate security measures. These alarming occurrences underscore the need for proactive cybersecurity measures and ongoing attention due to the perpetual emergence of novel threats, poised to do immeasurable harm. These tragedies serve as a poignant reminder for both enterprises and people that effective cybersecurity is an essential need rather than a desirable attribute.

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