Hackers come and go. It seems to be a universal theme that those who make a name for themselves in this profession rarely last – with few exceptions. And yet, contrary to the stereotype of a programmer, these organizations are as diverse in motive and methodology as the people that make up their teams. Here are the top five that have risen to recent prominence.
The Impact Team
You may not have heard of the name of this hacking group, but you’ve certainly heard of their target. The group known as the Impact Team recently made headlines when they hacked AshleyMadison.com, a controversial dating website that helps people engage in extramarital affairs.
The group has stolen and exposed personal information of users of two websites owned by Canadian company Avid Life Media (ALM), namely Ashley Madison as well as Established Men. Their reasoning is that the company charges a $19 fee for completely removing a user’s personal information from its websites is scamming users, because billing information is never actually removed. It’s demanding the company shut down both websites.
Reminiscent of the now-defunct LulzSec which was making headlines back in 2011, Lizard Squad is a black hat hacking group responsible for several high profile DDoS attacks including those on the Sony PlayStation Network and Microsoft Xbox Live services on Dec 25, 2014.
While it is unclear how many members made up the group, 17-year-old Julius “zeekill” Kivimaki, of Finland was convicted of 50,700 counts of cyber crime while Vinnie Omari, also an alleged member, was arrested by British police in connection with PayPal theft. It would seem that Lizard Squad is as short-lived as its predecessor.
The Syrian Electronic Army
One part hacktivist and one part cyber terrorist, the group known as the Syrian Electronic Army is considered by some as the first hacking collective in the middle east to be openly supported by a government. While it is unclear exactly what relationship the group has with the government of President Bashar al-Assad, it is known for employing methods including spamming, phishing, malware, DDoS and more to target political opposition, the media and even neutral NGOs.
Proof that there are lone wolves in the hacking world, security company Trend Micro has singled out a 20-year old Brazillian student, who has developed over 100 trojans since 2013. Also under the alias “Hacker’s Son” and “Filho de Hacker”, the malware developer targets the banking sector and even sells his tools for around $300 each.
According to Trend Micro, he has become one of Brazil’s “top banking malware creators.”
The Hacking Team
Governments, individuals, companies, you name it, this group has hacked it. The Italian company that has reportedly sold spyware to 21 countries and has targeted journalists and human rights activists is perhaps most notorious because of how secretive it tries to be, even within its own company. It has also existed for 13 years all within the protection of the law, netting some 40 million Euros in revenue.
The recent information leak from the company confirmed certain inner workings and business practices hinted at by earlier disputes with the Italian government, hacker collective Anonymous, lawsuits against its own employees, and even a United Nations panel monitoring the implementation of sanctions on Sudan. Despite these conflicts, the company continues to operate and export its software.