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The 5 weirdest hacks of all time

Mon 25 Nov 2019 | Chester Avey

Cyber attacks come in all shapes and sizes

When it comes to hacking, it’s easy to think of the many films which showcase the criminality of it. From 2016’s Snowden to 2007’s Die Hard 4, hacking is typically associated with thrillers and crime dramas – films which feature a master hacker able to unlock a company’s cyber security in the blink of an eye.

However, in real life, not all cases of hacking have such a criminal affiliation. In fact, there have been numerous cases over the years where hackers have demonstrated more of a sense of humour, breaking through security protocols in crazy, creative and highly unusual ways.

Join us as we take a look at five of the weirdest hacks ever carried out.

Burger King

McDonalds and Burger King have always had a heated rivalry but, back in 2013, that all seemed set to change.

After breaking into Burger King’s Twitter account, a hacker decided to post messages claiming that the fast food franchise had recently been sold to its rival, McDonalds. They also changed their display name and icon to a picture of the Golden Arches, making the posts look as if they were genuine.

However, the ruse didn’t last for very long, as Twitter suspended Burger King’s account after an hour or so of shenanigans. The events didn’t all end badly for Burger King though, as their account gained 60,000 new followers thanks to the incident. They even received a sympathetic Tweet from McDonalds over the saga as well, demonstrating that – even in the worst of situations – enemies can be nice to each other.

Marriott

When it comes to applying for jobs, it’s important to stand out from the crowd. However, back in 2010, one wannabe candidate took that advice a little too literally.

After transmitting a malicious code to the Marriott International Corporation’s security firm, 26-year-old Attila Nemeth from Hungary attempted to threaten the company into giving him a job. He said that if they didn’t offer him one, he would reveal the company’s confidential information to the world.

Fortunately, Marriott saw right through Nemeth’s weird hacking attempts and created a fake employee profile for the US secret service to use to flush him out. Thinking he was in line for a new job, Nemeth fell for the trap and sent across copies of his passport and contact information to the ‘employer’. It didn’t take long before he was caught.

Godzilla

With more and more devices becoming inter-connected, life has become much easier for hackers to infiltrate their systems. Back in 2014, a group of Californian pranksters decided to do just that, somehow figuring out how to break into a number of electronic road signs.

So, what exactly did the group decide to do once they had hacked into the road signs? Help keep the drivers updated? No – anything but. The group instead decided to warn road users that Godzilla was up ahead, laying siege to the city.

After reprogramming the signs to read “GODZILLA ATTACK – TURN BACK”, the group’s joke was seen to fall flat, only going on to cause a lot of confusion. Fortunately, no accidents were caused and, more importantly, no giant radioactive lizards were anywhere to be seen.

Telegraph hack

While hacking may be associated with the rise of technology, one of the earliest known examples of it actually happened all the way back in 1903.

Back then, The Royal Academy of Science were preparing to demonstrate a long-distance wireless telegraph message between London and Cornwall using a newly-designed machine from Guglielmo Marconi.

However, just as the demonstration was about to start, recipients started hearing strange messages. The word ‘rats’ was repeated over and over again, and then suddenly changed into an insulting poem about Marconi’s newly-built creation.

After a thorough investigation, the messages were discovered to be the work of magician and prankster Nevil Maskelyne, who had been hired by the Eastern Telegraph Company to demonstrate the insecurities of the new system. It’s safe to say he did exactly that.

Casino thermometer

Casinos may appear like some of the most secure organisations in the world, but that isn’t always the case. This was proved a few years ago by a group of hackers who used a highly unconventional method to break through a casino’s security systems and infiltrate its network.

Rather than using wi-fi or one of the more normal methods of access, the group of vigilantes hacked into the casino’s network via an internet-connected aquarium thermometer. Once in, they were able to extract all sorts of sensitive details from the database about each of the high-rollers who had visited there.

In total, the hackers managed to swipe over 10GB of data before the casino caught on. After calling in the cyber defence company Darktrace, the specialist team picked up on the tank’s ‘fishy’ activity and managed to stop the hackers in their tracks.

Experts featured:

Chester Avey

Thought Leader

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