Computer Attacks and Critical Privacy Threats


Computer security is one of the major challenges in the twenty-first century. It is commonly associated with dire consequences, especially in case of virus attacks. The issue is even more significant when virus attacks are initiated at larger scales – for instance, when they are regional. However, the most astounding problem is the fact that they occur on a timely basis. Therefore, the paper at hand will provide an overview of two computer attacks – the worst in history and one of the most recent ones – as well as speculate on the most critical privacy threats as of 2017.

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The Worst Virus Attack

Attack under consideration is Slammer – worm outbreak first registered in 2002. It was reported as SQL server vulnerability detected by Microsoft. Widespread panic began in January 2003. The specificity of this worm is that it was not distributed via e-mail like viruses commonly spread during other attacks. Instead, even though it could not write itself on any of computer discs, it could be duplicated online, so around 15,000 servers around the globe were affected. It was spread via the Internet due to the fact that the malware used UDP Protocols. It means that all machines already infected with the worm, spammed the network they were connected to, so the volumes of the attack increased swiftly.

It is assumed that Slammer was the worst virus attack because its costs summed up to almost $1 billion (“The 8 Most Famous”). However, what is even more critical, it was one of the fastest virus attacks because it spread over the Internet during 15 minutes. During this time, more than 75,000 people became its victim. Still, there are even more challenging details to recall. Slammer was a malware that affected 911 services, ATM servers, and almost half of the operating online servers. At the same time, there were issues with e-tickets and checking-in, so flights were delayed (Bell). All in all, it became the cause of severe panic. In addition, even 13 years later, there have been records of the worm attack, so it is a lasting one (Pauli).

Recent DoS Attack

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a common example of DoS attacks. One of the recent attacks is one that hit BBC in 2015. It was initiated on New Year’s Eve, and the majority of BBC servers have been down for around three hours. The attack affected BBC domain, including such services as radio and television (“5 Biggest DDoS Attacks”). It is essential to point to the fact that television and radio have been working with issues for the rest of the day. This DoS attack was launched by an organization that referred itself to as New World Hacking. It cracked a previous record (334Gbps) by reaching 602 Gbps (Korolov).

For this reason, it became one of the most critical DoS attacks of that time. The representatives of the group said that their attack was an experiment to test their capabilities to compromise other powerful servers, such as Trump’s campaign website and ISIS website. In fact, they wanted to demonstrate their power, pointing that it is the hacking organization that has resources and strengths to change the news and rule the world, not the news agency.

Major Privacy Threats

Even though there has been impressive progress in the sphere of computer security, there are still some critical privacy threats to consider. It is commonly associated with the fact that regardless of developing new and progressive security technologies, cybercriminals are constantly outrunning software developers, so threats become more intricate and challenging. As of 2017, there are several risks to keep in mind.

To begin with, the most critical problem is that of the growing instances of cybercrimes. It is associated with the breaches of both databases and personal information. In this case, personal and corporate data can be stolen by cybercriminals who either seek benefits by asking victims to pay for returning it or want to make benefit of the stolen information (for instance, like in case of stealing details regarding credit cards or other financial information).

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Here, it essential to point to the fact that this threat may be easily coped with because the increased risks of security breaches are related to insecure activities of individual users or companies, such as poor passwords, ignoring the criticality of updating software and installing anti-malware applications, browsing sketchy and not reputable websites or registering on them, and paying no attention to the origin of downloaded software (Nguyen).

Even though this privacy threat is usually initiated by individuals and their insecure behaviors on the Internet, it is considered to be critical due to the fact that more than 200 million letters consisting malware applications were sent in 2013, while almost 13 million people became victims of personal information theft (Nguyen). However, what is even more challenging, these figures are constantly increasing.

This privacy threat is commonly referred to as ransomware (“The Biggest Security Threats”). Using malicious applications, hackers steal personal or corporate data and demand money for returning control over this data to the initial owner (Olavsrud). The main challenge with the problem is the fact that hackers select influential companies or individuals, as well as health care facilities, as their targets. In other words, they choose those people or enterprises that are likely to suffer the most from the loss of personal information (Komando).

Regardless of the powerful influence of individual behavior on the increased online privacy threats, there are as well other issues to pay attention to – those initiated by companies and states’ decisions. One of the appropriate examples is the threat deriving from the growing popularity of big data. In fact, it is connected to online trace left by an individual. In this case, it is essential to note that it is the risk for those people who have mobile devices with the Internet and geolocation options.

Even though potential benefits of big data are fantastic, it is as well related to several significant threats. First and foremost, people are connected to the global network that means that their location is no longer a secret. In some case, all of their actions are as well recorded, especially keeping in mind information collected from city surveillance systems and geolocation details (Olavsrud). From this perspective, personal privacy turns into an illusion if one has a mobile device with the switched on Internet.

Another common challenge is the fact that human element is absolutely eliminated from the process of analyzing big data because it is simply too complicated for one person to cope with it. In this case, the challenge is associated with being potentially manipulated by the outcomes of data analysis and overvaluing this process (Llic).

Works Cited

5 Biggest DDoS Attacks.Abusix. 2016. Web.

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The Biggest Security Threats Coming in 2017.Wired. 2017. Web.

Bell, Steve. “Which Is the Worst Computer Virus in History? Here’s Out Top 10.Bullguard. 2014. Web.

The Biggest Security Threats Coming in 2017.Wired. 2017. Web.

Komando, Kim. “The 3 Biggest Security Threats of 2016.USA Today. 2016. Web.

Korolov, Maria. “DDoS Attack on BBC May Have Been Biggest in History,” CSO Online. 2016. Web.

Llic, Danny. “3 Biggest Cyber Security Threats of 2017.ITProPortal. 2017. Web.

The 8 Most Famous Computer Viruses of All Time.Norton. 2016. Web.

Nguyen, Peter. “The 6 Biggest Online Privacy Threats You Should Be Considered with.” HotSpot Shield. 2013. Web.

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Olavsrud, Thor. “4 Information Security Threats That Will Dominate 2017.CIO. 2016. Web.

Pauli, Darren. “Slammer Worm Slithers Back Online to Attack Ancient SQL Servers.The Register. 2017. Web.

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