The Biggest Hacks of 2021

The Biggest Hacks of 2021

( – It wasn’t just COVID that worried people in 2021 – computers were being infected, too. The last year has been marked by a series of high-profile cyberattacks that show just how vulnerable our technology can be, and how hostile states are weaponizing the internet against us.

The most notorious hack of the year was the May 7 ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline Company, which operates the US’ largest pipeline network for refined oil products. The attack was carried out by the DarkSide hacking group, which is believed to be based in Russia, but not directly controlled by Russian intelligence services. The attack shut down the pipeline system for five days, causing panic buying and gas shortages. Colonial Pipeline paid a ransom of around $4.4 million in Bitcoin, although the FBI managed to retrieve over 80% of the money.

Healthcare has also been targeted and was worrisome for ordinary people. California-based Scripps Healthcare was hit by a malware attack on May 1, shutting down its website for two weeks and possibly compromising patient health records. Also in May, Ireland’s Health Service Executive suffered a ransomware attack that probably came from a state-backed Russian hacker group, Wizard Spider. The Irish government refused to pay the ransom.

Hackers also targeted insurance companies, cloud storage, universities, US police departments, federal agencies and even the National Basketball Association. Most attacks were aimed at extorting a ransom from victims, while others were attempting to steal data or just cause chaos. This isn’t a threat that’s going to go away anytime soon, which is why stepping up cybersecurity needs to be a big focus as technology advances.

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