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CYBER TIMELINE

Cyber attacks - when the most serious ones happened, to whom - and the consequences.

‘A cyber attack perpetrated by nation states or violent extremists groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack on 9/11.’

Leon E. Panetta
(Former US Secretary of Defense)

DECEMBER 2006

NASA

APRIL 2007

ESTONIA

JUNE 2007

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

OCTOBER 2007

CHINA

SUMMER 2008

US ELECTIONS

AUGUST 2008

GEORGIA

JANUARY 2009

ISRAEL

JANUARY 2010

CHINA's BAIDU

OCTOBER 2010

IRAN

JANUARY 2011

CANADA

JULY 2011

DEPT. OF DEFENSE

OCTOBER 2012

RED OCTOBER

MARCH 2013

SOUTH KOREA

JUNE 2013

OCTOBER 2013

And NATO is not immune. In 2012 alone, NATO's systems suffered over 2,500 significant cyber attacks. None broke through its defences. But it is just one part of the backdrop to NATO having its first ministerial level discussion of how to provide cybersecurity.

At that meeting, it was agreed that a NATO cyberdefence capability should be fully operational by autumn 2013.

'We are all closely connected. So an attack on one Ally, if not dealt with quickly and effectively, can affect us all. Cyber-defence is only as effective as the weakest link in the chain. By working together, we strengthen the chain,' said NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

1988

The Morris worm - one of the first recognised worms to affect the world's nascent cyber infrastructure - spread around computers largely in the US. The worm used weaknesses in the UNIX system Noun 1 and replicated itself regularly. It slowed down computers to the point of being unusable. The worm was the work of Robert Tapan Morris, who said he was just trying to gauge how big the Internet was. He subsequently became the first person to be convicted under the the US' computer fraud and abuse act. He now works as a professor at MIT.

DECEMBER 2006

NASA was forced to block emails with attachments before shuttle launches out of fear they would be hacked.

Business Week reported that the plans for the latest US space launch vehicles were obtained by unknown foreign intruders.

APRIL 2007

Estonian government networks were harassed by a denial of service attack by unknown foreign intruders, following the country's spat with Russia over the removal of a war memorial. Some government online services were temporarily disrupted and online banking was halted.

The attacks were more like cyber riots than crippling attacks, and the Estonians responded well, relaunching some services within hours or - at most - days.

JUNE 2007

The US Secretary of Defense’s unclassified email account was hacked by unknown foreign intruders as part of a larger series of attacks to access and exploit the Pentagon's networks.

OCTOBER 2007

China’s Ministry of State Security said that foreign hackers, which it claimed 42% came from Taiwan and 25% from the US, had been stealing information from Chinese key areas.

In 2006, when the China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation (CASIC) intranet network was surveyed, spywares were found in the computers of classified departments and corporate leaders.

SUMMER 2008

The databases of both Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns were hacked and downloaded by unknown foreign intruders.

AUGUST 2008

Computer networks in Georgia were hacked by unknown foreign intruders around the time that the country was in conflict with Russia. Graffiti appeared on Georgian government websites.

There was little or no disruption of services but the hacks did put political pressure on the Georgian government and appeared to be coordinated with Russian military actions.

JANUARY 2009

Hackers attacked Israel’s internet infrastructure during the January 2009 military offensive in the Gaza Strip. The attack, which focused on government websites, was executed by at least 5,000,000 computers.

Israeli officials believed the attack was carried out by a criminal organisation based in a former Soviet state, and paid for by Hamas or Hezbollah.

JANUARY 2010

A group named the "Iranian Cyber Army” disrupted the service of the popular Chinese search engine Baidu. Users were redirected to a page showing an Iranian political message.

The same “Iranian Cyber Army” had hacked into Twitter the previous December, with a similar message.

OCTOBER 2010

Stuxnet, a complex piece of malware designed to interfere with Siemens industrial control systems, was discovered in Iran, Indonesia, and elsewhere, leading to speculation that it was a government cyber weapon aimed at the Iranian nuclear programme.

JANUARY 2011

The Canadian government reported a major cyber attack against its agencies, including Defence Research and Development Canada, a research agency for Canada's Department of National Defence.

The attack forced the Finance Department and Treasury Board, Canada’s main economic agencies, to disconnect from the Internet.

JULY 2011

In a speech unveiling the Department of Defense’s cyber strategy, the US Deputy Secretary of Defense mentioned that a defense contractor was hacked and 24,000 files from the Department of Defense were stolen.

OCTOBER 2012

The Russian firm Kaspersky discovered a worldwide cyber-attack dubbed “Red October,” that had been operating since at least 2007.

Hackers gathered information through vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Word and Excel programmes. The primary targets of the attack appear to be countries in Eastern Europe, the former USSR and Central Asia, although Western Europe and North America reported victims as well.

The virus collected information from government embassies, research firms, military installations, energy providers, nuclear and other critical infrastructures.

MARCH 2013

South Korean financial institutions as well as the Korean broadcaster YTN had their networks infected in an incident said to resemble past cyber efforts by North Korea.

JUNE 2013

In their first-ever meeting dedicated to cyber defence on Tuesday (June 4), NATO Defence Ministers agreed that the Alliance’s cyber-defence capability should be fully operational by the autumn, extending protection to all the networks owned and operated by the Alliance.

OCTOBER 2013

NCIRC Upgrade - The NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) upgrade project, a 58 Million euro enhancement of NATO cyber defences, is on track for completion by the end of October 2013. This major capability milestone will help NATO to better protect its networks from the increasing number of cyber attacks against the Alliance's information systems.

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