The history of cyber attacks and computer hacking starts well before the invention of computers. Read on for a brief and entertaining account of how and why hacking began, why it’ll likely never stop, and how you can use cyber attack insurance to protect yourself and your company.
The history of cyber attacks begins with the hacking of a landline phone in Silicon Valley.
Before Cyber Attacks Came Phone Phreaking
Back in the early 1970s, when long distance calls were a luxury, telephone companies used specific high-frequency sounds to authorize long distance calls.
When an electronic engineering student in Silicon Valley named John Draper realized that a whistle he found in a Cap’n Crunch cereal box had the same exact frequency, he blew the whistle into the phone and made the first free long distance phone call. This was called “phone phreaking.” Draper is now considered the father of hacking and cyber attacks. He is also known to this day as Captain Crunch, aka the first “Phone Phreak.”
Cyber Attacks: The Beginning
The excitement that Draper and a few other phone phreaking fanatics such as Denny Teresi and Steve Wozniak felt when they started toying with the possibilities of hacking telephones (such as placing free calls to the Pope in Vatican City at 4am), they became enthralled with the technical challenges and intelligence behind the idea. They collaborated their phone phreaking efforts and created a community of hackers called the Home Brew Club.
The more the Home Brewers built new phone phreaking machines and then tinkered with early Microsoft computers, the more inspired they became. Eventually their fascinations for technology lead to the creation of the first personal “kit” computer as a way to experiment with different kinds of hacking and cyber attacks.
By 1982, Wozniak had perfected his personal computer, teamed up with Steve Jobs and they sold the first Apple PC. Suddenly every big business seemed to have a PC and all contained valuable information for hackers to break into.
The First Major Cyber Attacks
A man named Kevin Mitnick was the first to be jailed for cyber attacks after he stole important manuals from a phone company at age 17. He continued to perform cyber attacks until he caused 4 million dollars of damages to DEC Computer Company and had the FBI convinced that he could start a nuclear war with a jailhouse pay phone. He was sentenced to a year of solitary confinement, complete with ankle shackles.
Other early cyber attacks involved major government corporations, such as NASA who realized that “unauthorized people had repeatedly penetrated a computer at Marshall space flight center and were smart enough to erase the log in/log out file.”
Who did the FBI discover it was that performed cyber attacks on NASA? Four pimply high school teenagers. Why did they do it? For fun.
Why Cyber Attacks Will Always Will Be an Issue
As the Internet was built with the intent of sharing information, it has been and always will be very difficult to secure. History teaches us that the motivation behind cyber attacks is not always to make money or to steal from you, so your site could fall victim to cyber attacks simply because a couple of teenagers want to challenge their technical capabilities. However, as the internet has spread, criminals have realized they can use the internet as a tool to generate illicit income. Gangs of international hackers are become more capable, more organized, are turning to cyber crime to generate revenue.
As computers become increasingly vital to a business’ operation, cyber attacks become more and more detrimental to a company’s or an individual’s security. Chances of falling victim to cyber attacks are too great to risk not having cyber attack insurance. Get yours today, before it’s too late.