Operation Shady RAT – Biggest Hack In History

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Welcome to Episode 1 of Terminal Stack’s series, 5 Biggest Hacks Ever! In this post of Terminal Stack, we will talk about Operation Shady RAT, a cyberattack that’s still ongoing and it’s considered one of the biggest hacks in the history of the internet as it has affected some of the biggest organizations in the world. So let’s begin.

Operation Shady RAT is a series of ongoing attacks on various large organisations taking away sensitive data and stealing top secret technologies. It started in mid-2006 and was reported in 2011 by Dmitri Alperovitch, who is the Vice President of Threat Research at McAfee, which is one of the most popular antivirus companies in the world.

The Attacks:

The hackers behind operation Shady RAT have targeted 70+ organisations worldwide and have stolen large amounts of sensitive and confidential data. These organisations include The United Nations, International Olympic Committee, World Anti-Doping Agency, the ASEAN, Defense Contractors and several other organisations. 

These operations gave no monetary gain to the hackers, which suggests that they were looking for data and state secrets, it is believed that the defense organisations lost a bunch of secret military designs and hospitals lost the stored data of their patients. 

The nature of these cyber attacks and the countries affected points it’s finger towards Chinese Government and it is strongly believed that these attacks were funded by Chinese Government. It also makes a lot of sense too, considering the amount of benefit these data can be for the PLA.

How were the cyberattacks executed?

The most common type of cyberattack used in Operation Shady RAT was phishing. The hackers sent carefully tailored emails to the employees in these companies. Those emails had Trojan Horse viruses in them, when they were opened by employees of targeted companies, they looked like legit software and apps but once installed in the device they established a connection between the devices of victim and hacker. This Trojan Horse gave remote access to the hackers after which they can very easily download or extract any data from the victim’s device.

Most of the big organizations have a dedicated cybersecurity division as well as computer infrastructure that is protected by high graded firewalls, but these organizations sometimes forget that the biggest security flaw in a system is humans working there. This is a major reason why most of the hacks that take place in the modern world, in existence of antiviruses, are executed using social engineering.

Also Read: What is Penetration Testing?

What do we learn from these hacks?

These hacks teach us a very important lesson, that the first step to protect the data of an organisation is to educate the employees and make them aware of the existing cybersecurity threats.

These hacks were clearly state-funded which also shows us what a heavily funded organised hacking group can do in the modern world. 

Which countries were affected?

Most of the attacks were made on companies based in North America and Europe, but several other companies from India, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other South-East countries faced these attacks too.

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Arpit Pandey

Hey there! I am Arpit Pandey, a full stack web developer, SEO specialist, C++ programmer and Co-Founder of this blog. I love to code and write articles!

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