list the major events in the use of
computers and computer networks to comit
criminal acts, starting in the 1970's to
the present day. This list was put
together as part of our course Introduction to Computer
Crime Studies (FSCT7220)
presented at BCIT.
The list is not meant to be comprehensive,
but it is meant to be representative. If
you notice any errors or serious
omissions, please contact
1 - 1970 - 1990...
- 1991- 2000
- Kevin Poulsen is captured and
indicted for selling military secrets.
- Dark Avenger releases 1st
- During radio station call-in
contests, hacker-fugitive Kevin
Poulsen and friends rig the stations'
phone systems to let only their calls
through. They win two Porsches,
vacation trips and $20,000.
- First DefCon hacker conference held
- 16-year-old student, nicknamed “Data
Stream”, arrested by UK police for
penetrating computers at the Korean
Atomic Research Institute, NASA and
several US govt. agencies.
- Five members of the Aum Shinri Kyo
cult's Ministry of Intelligence break
into Mitsubishi Heavy Industry's
mainframe and steal Megabytes of
- Hackers adapt to emergence of the
World Wide Web, moving all their
how-to information and hacking
programs from the old BBS’s to new
hacker Web sites.
- Russian crackers steal $10 million
from Citibank. Vladimir Levin, the
ringleader, uses his work laptop after
hours to transfer the funds to
accounts in Finland and Israel. He
is tried in the US and sentenced
to 3 years in prison. All but $400K of
the money is recovered.
- The French Defence Ministry admits
Hackers succeeded in stealing acoustic
codes for aircraft carriers and
- Movies ‘The Net’ and ‘Hackers’
- Hackers deface federal web sites.
- Macro viruses appear.
- Kevin Mitnik arrested again for
stealing credit card numbers. He is
jailed on charges of wire fraud and
illegal possession of computer files
stolen from Motorola and SUN. He
remains in jail for 4 years without
- John Deutsh, CIA director, testifies
foreign organized crime groups behind
hacker attacks against the US private
- US Communications Decency Act (CDA)
passed – makes it illegal to transmit
indecent/obscene material over
- Canadian hackers (the ‘Brotherhood’)
break into CBC.
- South Korean media reports that
North Korean government officials are
engaging in efforts to obtain foreign
proprietary technology through
indirect methods.Bell Research Labs in
the US announce they have found a way
to counterfeit the electronic money on
- The US General Accounting Office
reports hackers attempted to break
into Defense Dept. computer files
250,000 times in 1995. About 65% of
these attempts were successful.
- Freeware tool AOHell is released -
allows unskilled hackers (script
kiddies) to wreak havoc on America
- US Supreme court strikes down
Communications Decency Act (CDA).
- America On-line (AOL), one of the
largest Internet service providers in
the US, cuts direct access for its
users in Russia due to the high level
- The German Chaos Computer Club
claims it was able to penetrate
Microsoft's Internet software and the
financial management program Quicken,
and transfer money between accounts
without either the account holder or
bank realizing the transaction was
- FBI’s National Computer Crimes Squad
reports 85% of companies have been
hacked, and most never know it.
- Hacking group Cult of the Dead Cow
releases a Trojan horse program called
Back Orifice at Defcon. Once installed
a Windows 9x machine the program
allows for unauthorized remote access.
- Timothy Lloyd is indicted for
planting a logic bomb on the network
of Omega Engineering, causing millions
- Hackers alter The New York Times Web
site, renaming it HFG (Hacking for
- During heightened tensions in the
Persian Gulf, hackers break-in to
unclassified Pentagon computers and
steal software programs.
- Information Security publishes its
first annual Industry Survey, finding
that nearly three-quarters of
organizations suffered a security
incident the prior year.
- L0pht testifies to the senate that
it could shut down nationwide access
to the Internet in less than 30 mins.
- The Melissa worm is released and
becomes the most costly malware
outbreak to date (Mar).
- US Defense Dept. acknowledges
60-80 attacks per day (Mar)
- Kevin Mitnick, detained since 1995
on charges of computer fraud, signs
plea agreement (Mar).
- The April 26 CIH virus strikes
individual PC users around the world.
Less common than Melissa, CIH was
intended to overwrite hard drives,
erasing everything on them (Apr)
- The US Justice Dept. declines to
prosecute former CIA Director John
Deutch for keeping 31 secret files on
his home computer after he left office
in 1996 (Apr)
- David Smith pleads guilty to
creating and releasing the Melissa
virus. It's one of the first times a
person is prosecuted for writing a
Section 3 - 2001 -2005...
- Russian cracker attempts to extort
$100K from online music retailer CD
Universe, threatening to expose
thousands of customers' credit card
numbers. He posts them on a website
after the attempted extortion
- Barry Schlossberg (aka. Lou Cipher)
is successful at extorting 1.4M from
CD Universe for services rendered in
attempting to catch the Russian
- Denial of Service (DoS) attacks by
‘Mafia Boy’ on eBay, Yahoo! and other
popular sites render them temporarily
unavailable to their users (and cause
those companies significant financial
- Activists in Pakistan and the Middle
East deface Web sites belonging to the
Indian and Israeli govts. to protest
oppression in Kashmir and Palestine.
- Hackers break into Microsoft's
corporate network and access source
code for the latest versions of
Windows and Office software.
- A news release issued by Internet
Wire, and reported by Bloomberg and
other news organizations, causes
Emulex stock to plunge from $110 a
share to $43 on the NASDAQ exchange in
minutes. A former Internet Wire
employee, believed to have authored
the bogus story, faced charges and is
alleged to have pocketed $241,000
short-selling Emulex shares that day
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
attacks are launched against : Yahoo,
eBay, CNN.com, Amazon.com, Buy.com,
ZDNet, E*Trade, etc.
- Pres. Clinton says he doesn't use
e-mail to communicate with his
daughter Chelsea at college, because
he doesn't think the medium is secure.
- The "I Love You" virus spreads
quickly by causing copies of itself to
be sent to all individuals on the
affected computer’s address book (by
attaching VBScript executable code to
- SANS releases its first "Top 10
Vulnerabilities" list, denoting the
most prevalent problems exploited by
- Kevin Mitnik is released from prison
- FBI establishes fake security
start-up company in Seattle and lures
two Russian citizens to U.S. soil on
the pretense of offering them jobs,
then arrests them. The Russians are
accused of stealing credit card
information, attempting to extort
money from victims, and defrauding
PayPal by using stolen credit cards to
generate cash. (Nov)
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