2022's Greatest Hacks and Leaks, Ranked

2022's Greatest Hacks and Leaks, Ranked

The time has come to look back on the biggest cybersecurity debacles of the year. Read on and despair.

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Well, it’s that time of year folks. Yes, as we inch into December and towards 2023, the time has finally come to tally up the greatest (read: worst, most unfortunate, most ridiculous) hacking episodes of the year. As far as cybersecurity disasters go, 2022 wasn’t quite as bad as other recent years. There were fewer high-profile ransomware attacks this year. No giant, SolarWinds-style scandals graced the headlines...and yet, things still weren’t that great. Cryptocurrency hacks led to billions of dollars in losses, droves of giant corporations proved they lacked basic digital security, and, once again, cybercriminals demonstrated that that their business model is an extremely profitable one. Let’s be honest, digital insecurity in the U.S. was—as per usual—a shit-show. Take a quick look back with us, as we review this year’s most memorable hacking episodes and data breaches. Let this be your reminder to update your browser and invest in a password manager (but be careful which one, because sometimes those get hacked too)

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The Lapsus$ Hacks

The Lapsus$ Hacks

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The most distinctive cyberattacks of the year were carried out by a new gang calling itself “Lapsus$.” The group, which is reputed to be composed mostly of teenagers, claimed impressive hacking victories against some of the world’s biggest companies: Microsoft, Samsung, Nvidia, Ubisoft, and a slew of other major tech companies that all suffered serious data breaches. While the supposed leader of the gang—a teenager from the United Kingdom—was arrested back in March, Lapsus$ appears to have continued to its reign of terror, claiming victories against more and more large companies. Despite its big splash in the world of cybercrime, we still don’t know much about the group or its members. To date, no members of the group have been publicly identified, even the ones arrested.

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Uber

Uber

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The Uber hack was one of the most memorable hacks of the year. It also may have been carried out by the cybercriminals from the previous slide—the Lapsus$ gang. In short: someone hacked into the network of the rideshare giant back in September and caused all sorts of mischief. Whoever it was certainly had a sense of humor. In addition to defacing an internal website with a picture of a dick, the hacker also screwed with employees via Slack and leaked pictures of the company’s internal environment to the web. The company later blamed Lapsus$.

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Rockstar Games

Rockstar Games

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Another potential Lapsus$ episode: the unfortunate hacking of Rockstar Games. This summer, a cybercriminal group managed to get inside the gaming giant’s network and subsequently stole and leaked early development footage of the upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI. A 17-year-old was arrested for the crime in London “on suspicion of hacking, as part of an investigation” into the incident. The teenager is thought to have been connected to the cybercrime gang Lapsus$.

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The LA School District Ransomware Attack

The LA School District Ransomware Attack

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America’s second largest school district got pillaged by ransomware hackers earlier this year, and, boy, was it a bummer. Yes, the Los Angeles Unified School District got hacked in September by a group calling itself Vice Society. The attack paralyzed certain IT systems and made a real mess of things for district schools. The hackers demanded a ransom, which the school district refused to pay. The hackers later released 500 gigabytes of the district’s data in response.

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The $620 Million Axie Infinity Hack

The $620 Million Axie Infinity Hack

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One of the biggest cryptocurrency hacks of all time happened earlier this year. The crypto video game company Axie Infinity ended up getting pillaged for a whopping $620 million worth of crypto. Authorities later claimed that North Korean cybercriminals tied to the hacker group Lazarus were behind the massive theft.

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The California Gun Owners Doxxing Episode

The California Gun Owners Doxxing Episode

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In a bizarre episode, the state of California accidentally doxxed every single legal gun owner in the state. The incident took place this summer, after the California Justice Department launched a new website that was designed to be a portal for anonymous and aggregated information on gun owners. The website, it turned out, was not so anonymous. Instead, public information on gun owners—including sensitive info like names, birthdays, and addresses—was left exposed to the internet. The website was swiftly taken down, and the state government apologized for the mistake.

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The Wormhole Bridge Attack

The Wormhole Bridge Attack

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Another giant cryptocurrency hack this year was the Wormhole bridge attack. A decentralized finance (DeFi) platform that helped customers with asset transfer, Wormhole was quite the success story for a time. Unfortunately, in February, someone hacked it, and *poof* $325 million in crypto went up in smoke. Oddly, the hacker later returned a lot of the funds, but the whole thing remains an example of how money can evaporate in the course of a day when it comes to the DeFi world.

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The Conti Ransomware Leaks

The Conti Ransomware Leaks

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One of the most interesting data breaches of the year involved a well-known group of hackers getting hacked. The Conti ransomware group, which has been tied to some very major hacking episodes, was itself hacked by Ukrainian hacktivists. The Ukrainians spilled internal chats and other information from the ransomware group onto the web. The contents of the leak provided some of the most comprehensive insights yet into the way major ransomware groups conduct their lucrative business.

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Everything Associated With Log4j

Everything Associated With Log4j

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Last December, one of the most catastrophic bugs ever popped up: a nasty vulnerability in the widely used open source software program Log4j. The bug quickly panicked the internet—and for good reason. Since that time, companies have been getting hacked left, right, and center.

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The Goatse/Elementary School Debacle

The Goatse/Elementary School Debacle

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Okay, okay, this may not have been the biggest, nor one of the most expensive, cyber incidents of the year, but it was the funniest. To make a long story short: some joker hacked an app that was widely used by elementary school administrators and parents throughout the country. What did they do once they had hacked it? Naturally, they decided to spam users with the infamous Goatse meme—a horrendous image of a man bending over and spreading his butt cheeks wide open to expose his gaping dark hole to the world. Naturally, the apps’ users were mortified. It’s somewhat unclear how many schools were affected by this horrendous practical joke, but it might have been a lot.

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