If it weren’t Edward Snowden, we
probably wouldn’t know anything about TAO. TAO has some of the best
capabilities in the world, and has collected about all the American telephone
data you can imagine. After the initial reveal by Snowden, more and more
details have come out about them. We now know they have 600 employees in the
main NSA complex in Fort Mead, Maryland. There are also branches in Hawaii,
Georgia, Texas, and Denver.
2. Elderwood Group and 20 other Chinese APTs:
Elderwood Group, Axiom, Unit 61398,
Comment Crew, Putter Panda, Hidden Lynx, and many more. China pioneered the use
of state-sponsored hacking groups, and they've continued to perfect the
practice. It is diffucult to say if the government pulls the strings, funds or
even has an affiliation with each group. One of the more famous attacks came in
2010 under the name "Operation Aurora". We in part know about
Operation Aurora because Google came forward and announced it had been hacked.
This Russian group is another
advanced persistent threat and they probably share the same funders as
Dragonfly. All of their targets are targets that the Russian government is
interested in, they speak Russian, and they've been traced back to a government
sponsor in Moscow. They use pretty well-known hacking methods and use them
successfully. They're unique in that they've been caught framing the Cyber
Caliphate (ISIS) for their attacks.
Dragonfly is likely state-sponsored
due to its targets: electric grids, energy industry, and other control systems
in U.S. and Europe. They're designated as an APT (Advanced Persistent Threat).
Their most common attacks are spear-phishing and watering hole attacks. They've
also demonstrated capabilities to embed trojans in legitimate software for
industrial control systems.
5. Tarsh Andishan / Ajax:
The Iranian government formed these
two groups with a view to both their defensive and offensive benefits. They
created a state-sponsored independent hacker group Tarsh Andishan and hired the
existing Iranian hackivist group, Ajax. Ajax was best known for website
defacement but Tarsh Andishan is a little scarier because they've gained access
to airport gate control systems in South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan and
also hacked industrial targets like oil, gas, and telecommunications companies.
Anonymous is probably the most
well-known hacker group globally. They formed in 2003 on 4chan and have become
a significant force on the internet. They have certain collective symbols such
as Guy Fawkes masks and taglines, and there is no single person giving
commands. Their hacks are mostly ethical like the Occupy Movement, anti-child
pornography, and anti-Church of Scientology.
7. Syrian Electronic Army:
The SEA is a hacker group with
Syrian sympathies, along with connections to Iran and Hezbollah. They are
famous for defacing many Western news outlets, and they have also managed to
find rebels’ locations using malwares. Their style and humour raises questions
about their identity, but the New York Times stated that they’re probably
Morpho, aka Wild Neutron, was
founded in 2011 and since then they have attacked the big tech companies like
Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter, plus investment and pharmaceutical companies.
Their hacks usually steal insider information for monetary gains. They hit
servers and computers using zero-day exploits which are unknown by their
developers and this gives them a powerful access opportunity.
9. Chaos Computer Club:
CCC is one of the rare groups that
has a sort of 'moral code'. It’s also known that it was founded in 1981 by a
group of Germans, so it’s probably the oldest known group. It’s a large unit of
mostly German speaking people. They are famous for keeping their hacks within
the legal boundries.
10. Bureau 121:
Even though North Korea’s technology
seems extremely outdated, their government has shown great interest in hacking.
It has about 1,800 known members around world (Since the internet in NK is
terrible). The members are generally handpicked from their University of
Automation. It’s known that military hackers have really good opportunities and
live extravagant lives.