Major global cyber-attacks in recent years

May 20, 2017 - 7:50 AM
A hand is silhouetted in front of a computer screen in this picture illustration taken in Berlin May 21, 2013. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

BEIJING, CHINA | The widespread ransomware WannaCry has hijacked tens of thousands of computers for ransom payment in some 150 countries since Friday, heightening public concerns on global cyber-attacks. Following are major global cyber-attacks in recent years.


WannaCry, which broke out on May 12, 2017, encrypt computer files and demand a ransom payment of digital currency bitcoin worth 300 to 600 U.S. dollars. Hard-hit organizations include the Russian Interior Ministry, the British public health system National Health Service, China’s oil giant PetroChina and the German state rail company Deutsche Bahn, among others.

Red October

The malware infiltrated mobile devices, computer systems and network equipment to steal data and intelligence from computers in diplomatic, governmental and scientific research organizations in more than 20 countries in Europe and North America. The cyber-espionage program was discovered in October 2012 and uncovered in January 2013 by Russian researchers. It had reportedly been operated for up to five years before discovery.


A computer virus that has been used for cyber-espionage in the oil and energy sectors, especially in the Gulf states. The virus disrupts a computer by overwriting its disk, making it unable to boot. In 2012, Shamoon crippled tens of thousands of computers of Saudi Arabia’s national petroleum and natural gas company Aramco, which took the company a week to restore their services.


A malicious computer worm first detected in 2010 and inflicted huge damage on Iran’s nuclear program. t was designed to target industrial control systems used in infrastructure facilities via an infected USB flash drive. The malicious worm, set to erase itself in 2012, reportedly destroyed nearly one fifth of the nuclear centrifuges when it infected Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz.

2011 PlayStation network incident

Hackers intruded into Sony’s digital media entertainment service PlayStation Network and digital media delivery service Qriocity, stealing personal data of about 77 million accounts between April 17-19, 2011. The network was shut down for a week.