Hacking groups have always dominated the news in cyber security. Not only professionals but a general internet user is also intrigued by these hacking groups. In a last decade or so these groups have gained a lot of importance. These groups have not only emerged as a nuisance on the internet but have also turned out to be resourceful for many governments. A good number of these hacking groups have received official patronage of their governments to launch cyber attacks on foreign countries. Countries like Iran, China, USA and North Korea are believed to have constituted official departments for conducting hacking activities. Nevertheless, these groups cannot be construed in one particular way as no single definition can claim to explicitly explain the nature of all hacking groups due to significant diversity in their goals, methods and purposes.
In this article, we bring to you Top 10 Most Notorious Hacking Groups of All Time
Well, who doesn’t know about the infamous hackers group Anonymous. The decentralized group originated in 2003 on the imageboard 4chan. It is a leaderless organisation which projects itself as the cyber guardian of human rights and vows to fight against injustice through the weapon of “hacking”. Known for projecting itself as a vigilante group the members of the group are recognized by The use of Guy Fawkes Mask which seems to be inspired by the movie “V for Vendetta”. Initially the group is believed to have a loosely self-agreed goal of entertainment, however beginning with Project Chanology; a series of protests Anonymous held against the Church of Scientology in 2008 the group started focussing on a number of international issues involving Islamic State, Wikileaks, Child Pornography, Copyright Protection, Occupy Movement etc. The famous “operations” conducted by the group include #OpSaudi, #OpParis, #OpISIS, hacking the Pentagon and attacks against Visa, PayPal and Mastercard for refusing payments to Wikileaks. In 2012 Time magazine named “Anonymous” in its list of “100 most influential people” in the world.
2) Syrian Electronic Army (Supports Bashar-al-Assad)
Founded in 2011, there is only one duty of Syrian Electronic Army which is to support Bashar-al-Assad government through launching of cyber attacks involving, phishing, DDoS, malware and spamming. They are known to have targeted social media accounts of famous personalities like U.S President Barack Obama and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The precise nature of the Syrian Electronic Army’s relationship with the Syrian government is not fully clear yet. While the group initially claimed to be “a group of enthusiastic Syrian youths who could not stay passive towards the massive distortion of facts about the recent uprising in Syria” only to remove this claim from their website later; many experts actually believe that group has been formed by the Syrian government itself. Firstly, just after formation of the group in 2011, ban on Facebook and Youtube was lifted in Syria. Secondly, the Syrian Computer Society (headed by Bashar-al-Assad) registered SEA’s website. However, in February 2015 The New York Times stated that “American intelligence officials” suspect the SEA is “actually Iranian”. However, no proofs were provided.
3) Tarh Andishan
It is believed that Tarh Andishan; a group comprising of 20 highly skilled individuals; was formed in Iran as a response to the Stuxnet worm attack which Iran attributed to a joint US-Israel operation. With Operation Cleaver, the group announced its arrival on the global cyber security scene as a “force to be reckoned with”. Operation Cleaver targeted critical infrastructure including military installations, oil & gas industry, energy & utilities, airports, transportation, hospitals etc in 16 countries. It is said that the group successfully compromised US Navy servers. The techniques used by the group include SQL injection, automated worm like propagation systems, back-doors etc.
4) Lizard Squad
Lizard Squad is a black hat hacking group mainly involved in targeting gaming websites. However, the group gained wide fame after it hacked into Malaysian Airlines website and defaced it with the message “404 – Plane not found”; an apparent reference to their lost flight MH370 with 239 people onboard. The group also attacked Facebook, Sony and X-Box. Although Facebook denied any hack but their service was down for sometime due to DDoS attack carried out allegedly by Lizard Squad. Some members of the group were arrested in US and UK following their hacking into Sony and X-Box servers.
5) Bureau 121
Created in 1998, Bureau 121 is North Korea’s cyber warfare agency which is a part of General Bureau of Reconnaissance of North Korea’s military. The primary targets of Bureau 121 have been South Korea and United States of America. As per a report carried by Reuters, the agency is manned by North-Korea’s most talented individuals hired from the University of Automation, Pyongyang. The individuals mostly do not work from North Korea but are spread across the globe. The reason might be poor internet infrastructure of North-Korea. The families of these individuals get special benefits at home in North-Korea. Bureau 121 came to prominence in December 2014 when Sony Pictures cancelled the release of its movie The Interview after its computers were hacked and blamed Bureau 121 for the hack which it denied. Recently, South Korea accused Bureau 121 for conducting GPS jamming aimed at South Korea. As per American authorities, North Korea’s Bureau 121 is capable enough to conduct damages through cyber offensive attacks.
A computer security research group comprising of 3-5 members, the group gained notoriety in 2011-2012 for their black hacking activities against NASA, United Nations, NATO and Facebook, Daily Mail website and English Defence Leaguewhich included the account of former U.K Prime Minister Tony Blair. The group was started in 2010 by a 16 year old who went by the name of ‘TriCk’. The group disbanded in 2012 following the arrests of its founder ‘TriCk’ and the other core member who went by the pseudonym ‘MLT’’. In 2015 the group has reportedly resurfaced as ‘White Hat’ security research group.
7) Network Crack Program Hacker Group
The Network Crack Program Hacker Group (NHCP Group) is one of the most prominent Chinese hacker group based out of Zigong in Sichuan Province. It was founded in 1994 and is believed to be funded by People’s Liberation Army of China. The founder of the group Tan Dailin is supposedly a member of the People’s Liberation Army. It came into prominence after it hacked into 40% of the hacker association websites in China. They gained international media attention in 2007 when iDefense linked the “GinWuirootkit” developed by Tan Dailin (Wicked Rose) to the 2006 cyber attacks on US Department of Defense.
8) Tailored Access Operations (TAO)
TAO or Tailored Access Operations is a cyber-warfare unit of National Security Agency of United States of America. The group is largely involved in intelligence gathering since 1998. The primary task of TAO is what NSA terms as “Computer Network Exploitation”. It involves intelligence gathering by infiltrating into the computer systems used by foreign entities. As per the document leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the group has software templates which allow it to break into commonly used hardware like routers, switches and firewalls from multiple product vendor lines. According to The Washington Post, TAO engineers prefer to tap networks instead of isolated computers because of the large number of devices available on a single network.
The group derives its name from the term “Lulz” which means fun or laughter derived at another’s expense. As per the Group, their motto is “The world’s leaders in high-quality entertainment at your expense”, “Laughing at your security since 2011”. The group was founded in 2011 and came to prominence when they hacked the website of Fox News. It was followed by the hacking of the website of Sony Pictures and CIA. In 2012 the group had to close down due to arrest of its members by FBI to which information was strangely provided by the group’s leader “Sabu”.
It was a hacking group was founded by Patrick Gregory who went by the name of MostHateD. The group was composed of about 60 members. GlobalHell was notorious for hacking around 115 websites and destroying their data causing millions of dollars worth damage to the organisations. One of the group members Chad Davis hacked into the Army computer at Pentagon and defaced the Army Internet homepage with the message “Global Hell is alive. Global Hell will not die“. In 1999 it got disbanded when 12 members were prosecuted for computer intrusion and 30 for other lesser offences.