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14 of the scariest things hacked

Oct 20, 20144 mins
Data and Information SecurityData BreachHacking

From televisions to passenger planes, even the most unassuming device can, if accessed by the wrong people, be turned into something more sinister.

The issue of hacking is rarely out of the headlines, especially due to the recent spate of hackings targeting private photos of celebrities. The issue has become global news and sent the internet into a spin, whilst reminding us how vulnerable devices can be to hacking and that we can all become unsuspecting victims. WebHostingBuzz recently released an infographic detailing the scariest side of hacking, with surveillance, theft and crashes some of the most chilling scenarios.

Commercial Planes

IOActive’s Ruben Santamarta said it was possible to hack satellite communications equipment on passenger jets through their Wi-Fi and inflight entertainment systems. Though his attack was only proven possible in a lab. He said an attacker could hack the plane’s avionics equipment and disrupt or change satellite communications, impact on the plane’s navigation and safety systems. Aviation experts disagree, calling such an attack impossible.

Medical Equipment

In 2012, the late Barnaby Jack discovered a way to subvert an implanted insulin pump to make it deliver 45 days’ worth of insulin in one go. Medical devices were never designed to be “hacker proof”, making them easy targets for those with malicious intent. However, thanks to Jack, medical devices are now becoming safer and more resistant to outside influence.

Power Plants

Research released by Automatak in 2013 exposed 25 vulnerabilities in power plants across the U.S. and Canada. At the time, the flaws exposed substations, water utilities, and power stations to attack. If exploited they could be used to crash or hijack the servers at these facilities.

Baby Monitors

In April 2014 an Ohio couple awoke to the sound of an unknown man shouting “wake up baby!” through their wireless baby monitor. The Internet-enabled monitors allow parents to watch over their children remotely, through their smartphone or an Internet browser. Devices such as this, and the security risks they pose, are generalized under Internet of Things, or IoT.


The Iranian military claimed responsibility for the 2011 crash-landing of an America drone, by sending it fake GPS signals. The U.S. military, as well as various security experts, however, dispute this claim. The accepted theory is that the crash was caused by a routine malfunction.

Prison Cell Doors

At DEF CON in 2011, researcher John Strauchs showed how it is possible to open every cell door in a prison at once by hacking into an industrial programmable logic controller. The same method was used a year earlier at an Iranian nuclear facility.


In June 2014, two Canadian schoolboys hacked Bank of Montreal ATMs, before highlighting the security risk to the bank. Basic security failures, such as weak passwords, configuration problems and archaic standards can leave ATMs vulnerable to hacks.


August 2014 saw a major violation of privacy when a hacker posted nude images of female celebrities online, thought to have been stolen from celebrities’ backup services, such as iCloud. The hacker listed more than 100 names, claiming to have intimate photos of many of them before posting much of them online, sparking an FBI investigation.

Voice Mail

In July, British tabloid News of the World was shut down after “the phone hacking scandal.” Investigations discovered that over several years the newspaper hacked the phones of celebrities, royaly and murder victims, among others, and accessed their voicemails. The scandal sparked the Leveson Inquiry, a judicial public inquiry into the British media.


Researcher Jennifer Savage used her daughter’s Wi-Fi connected plastic bunny to demonstrate how toys can be hacked. The hacked Karotz toy played scary music and the camera was used as a spying device.


Many modern cars contain upwards of 50 electronic control units, which can allow someone to unlock and start the vehicle by sending a text. Not all cars can be hacked, but there is a growing effort to better secure the onboard controls, because some of them do have legitimate flaws.


In 2012, German researchers used “smart” electric meters to obtain information on when residents were awake, asleep, not at home and what they were watching on TV.


Security consultant Jesus Molina revealed that he used an in-room iPad to gain control over lights, temperature and blinds in 200 hotel rooms at the St. Regis Hotel in Shenzhen, China, in the summer of 2014.

Smart TVs

Samsung came under criticism when it was shown that their “smart” televisions’ Facebook app could be tweaked to spy on the set’s owners. The limited amount of built-in security possesed by these televisions leave many vulnerable to hackers.