4 High Profile Hacker Exploits from the past YearWhile we praise the world of technology and the million times easier it has made our lives, it is not without its pitfalls. The realm of security is one of them, as we’ve become painfully aware of when hackers expose private information to the detriment of millions of people. Several relatively recent hacks have been so epic in proportion we feel it’s our duty to note them here. Read on to be shocked and amazed, and when you’re done, it’d do you well to tighten up your personal information and passwords as best you can.

LinkedIn

A recent hacker operation on LinkedIn’s professional network which affected 6.5 million users, broke into the site’s password database and exposed the passwords on a hacker website. Although LinkedIn encrypts its information in a way that’s considered to be quite secure, hackers were still able to expose millions of passwords. More complex passwords were harder to uncover, which illustrates the importance of choosing at least a somewhat difficult password, rather than a simple, straightforward word such as “parrot” for instance.

In the wake of the massive hack, LinkedIn encouraged all of its users to immediately change their passwords at least once.

Sony Network

Sony’s PlayStation Network endured a tremendous hack attack last year which caused it go offline for several days. Dedicated users exploded in outrage as a response. The nature of the hack eventually allowed Sony to determine that it was caused by an individual rather than a group as previously speculated.

The attack happened right before the scheduled release of several long anticipated game titles, which caused Sony’s suspicions to rise regarding the motive for the hack.

The FBI

A group of hackers known as “Anonymous” has been messing with the likes of the FBI this year. In February the group intercepted a conversation between FBI agents and Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service of London, England. The phone conversation clip was posted to YouTube, and shortly after the FBI verified it was indeed authentic.

The National Security Agency (NSA) reportedly said that Anonymous has the potential to become such sophisticated hackers that they could possibly access the U.S. power grid within the next year or so. Anonymous tweeted in response that they have no intention to access the power grid and that the NSA is just trying to arouse citizen fear.

In addition to the FBI, Anonymous has targeted the Church of Scientology, the music industry, Visa and MasterCard. Dozens of suspected members and supporters of the hacker group have been arrested around the world.

Citibank

A hack on Citibank in June of last year compromised 360,000 of its customers’ financial information. The hackers did so through a simple hack technique known as “parameter tampering,” and were able to expose customers’ names, account numbers and contact information. Fortunately they were not able to uncover further sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, credit card security codes and birthdates. In light of this, customers luckily did not lose as extreme amounts of money as they could have had further details been exposed, but regardless the incident has severely damaged Citibank’s reputation and credibility.

Citibank has assured the public it has considerably tightened up its security methods since the attack, though it did not release any specifics.

Kristen Bright is the social media consultant for Instant CheckmateInstant Checkmate is a personal criminal background check provider, and does not perform employment screening of any kind.