Security leaks, hacks, botnets, and ransomware – cybercrime is everywhere and we’re talking about it a lot. But where does it come from and who are the people behind it? After all, nothing comes out of thin air. It’s the same for cybercrime: There are actual individuals or groups who painstakingly labor to create their “work of art”; their program that will be a pain for others but (perhaps) make them rich.
While the FBI has its own agenda when it comes to listing the most wanted cybercriminals it does not necessarily include the most well-known groups. That’s why you can find a couple of the most notorious ones in the gallery below.
While not nearly as present as a couple of years ago, almost everyone has heard of Anonymous. The decentralized international hacktivist group originated in 2003 on 4chan. They are most well-known for a couple of DDoS attacks, the Occupy Movement, and campaigns against the Church of Scientology and child pornography.
In contrast to every other group they are also readily recognizable in public: Members wear a Guy Fawkes mask, just as V in the graphic novel V for Vendetta.
The Equation Group
Have you ever seen the Edward Snowden movie? Then you basically already know a lot about the group. They are the Tailored Access Operations of the United States National Security Agency. Most of their targets have been in Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Syria, and Mali. It was found out in 2015 when some spyware was linked back to them. It is also believed that they are responsible for Stuxnet, the worm that messed with Iran’s nuclear program.
The Shadow Brokers
You cannot talk about the Equation Group without also talking about the Shadow Brokers. They first appeared in the summer of 2016 and entered the scene with a bang (or an auction, if you prefer) – better known as EternalBlue, EternalRomance, and more. Yes, you have most likely heard of these exploits: They were the tools the Equation Group (or NSA) used for their purposes. What followed is history; the exploits were used to create WannaCry and NotPetya amongst others.
Fancy Bear is thought to be responsible for cyber-attacks on the German parliament, the French television station TV5Monde, the White House, and the NATO. They love to dabble when it comes to politics and especially elections: After all, what’s more fun than influencing it so that the candidate you want to see in power gets an edge?
The group is believed to be associated with the Russian military intelligence agency and goes under a lot of other names, too: APT28, Pawn Storm, Sofacy Group, Sednit, and STRONTIUM.
Do you remember the 2014 attack on Sony Pictures? How about WannaCry? Bureau 121, the Noth Korean cyberwarfare agency, is allegedly responsible for both. Their goals are to raise money for the regime but also to undermine their enemies – which is almost the whole rest of the world.
It’s easy to hate the hackers there as much as their Russian, American, and all the other counterparts. Then again, there is a Bloomberg article depicting the circumstances of those poor people slaving away for their regime …
Other state sponsored hacking groups
There are a lot of them nowadays. Just to name a few: Unit 8200 (Israel. They allegedly helped in creating Stuxnet), PLA Unit 61398 (China. Mostly stealing lots and lots of data from international actors), and the Syrian Electronic Army (Syria. Attacking western newspaper sites and webpages. Most targets oppose their regime).
Each and every one represents not only a security risk for the different targeted countries / companies but also for every single citizen everywhere.