The Most Dangerous People and Organizations on the Internet in 2022
This year, the digital world was stunned by two major news stories — the collapse of FTX and Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter. But these are not the only stories that may have negative consequences for the internet.
Moreover, for the first time since 2015, Donald Trump did not make it onto the list of the most dangerous people of the year. But even without the former US president, there are enough new sources of instability and chaos on the World Wide Web.
We offer our list of the most dangerous people and groups on the internet in 2022.
The list of the most dangerous hackers in the world is here.
The most dangerous people on the internet in 2022
Cryptocurrency has always attracted unscrupulous players, from money launderers to drug dealers. But the most dangerous was someone no one would have thought of. The collapse of the FTX crypto exchange revealed a potential fraud of $8 billion, for which the former CEO of the company, Sam Backman-Fried, will appear in court. It was under his leadership that FTX invested huge amounts of users’ funds in its own Alameda Research platform, which also went bankrupt.
According to John Ray, the new CEO of FTX, he has never seen such a mess and chaos in a company in his life (and he dealt with the bankruptcy of Enron!), so the problems may be on an even larger scale. In addition to huge monetary losses, Bankman-Fried is a particularly problematic figure for the crypto economy: his actions showed that he was in favor of increasing government control over the industry. Now he has become the face of the active work of regulators.
When Musk directs his eccentric genius to electric cars and rockets, it contributes to the progress of mankind. But the purchase of Twitter showed that this genius also has a dangerous dark side, which poses a real threat to the network and people. The dismissal of thousands of employees from the company could harm the functioning of the platform, which is the center of communication and information for people from all over the world.
He removed the ban from the account of neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin and the instigator of the storming of the Capitol, Donald Trump, under the pretext of protecting freedom of speech. He has reduced the number of critical content moderators, contradicts himself by banning other accounts, and spreads misinformation from his own account about various conspiracy theories. Twitter may not crumble under Musk’s leadership, but the platform is turning into the worst version of itself.
Read more about how Elon Musk disappointed people here.
The Chinese president has committed some of the worst examples of human rights violations, including the imprisonment of Uighurs and the crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong. Every instance of his repression is accompanied by restrictions on the internet: Chinese censors clean social networks from mentioning protests, and the police require Uighurs to download an application that allows authorities to search for prohibited content on their phones.
This year, even liking a post about protests against the draconian policy of “zero tolerance for Covid” is considered illegal. There is even a system in which too many violations can lead to a complete ban on the use of social networks. Xi has made it clear that authoritarian control over Chinese digital lives will become even deeper during his third term as president.
Learn more about Chinese censorship here.
The Prime Minister of India and his party seem to be following the example of the Chinese leader. Over the past few years, the Indian government has temporarily closed access to the internet for the conflict region of Kashmir, banned Chinese applications, including TikTok, and only a few weeks ago gave the right to moderation of content in social networks to a group of three people.
The most egregious case of digital repression is probably a fabricated case against activists, on whose computers hackers planted “evidence” of guilt on the orders of the police. One of the arrested died in prison, the others remain behind bars. Modi wants to appear like a democratic leader, but democracy doesn’t seem to extend to the internet.
Russia’s main intelligence agency has been home to the most aggressive and dangerous hackers in the world for years. In the last few years alone, the “Bear” groups Sandworm and APT28 have caused two blackouts in Ukraine, stolen and distributed documents to influence the US elections in 2016, released the NotPetya virus, which caused at least $10 billion in damage, and tried to disrupt the closure of the Olympic Games in 2018. After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, GRU hackers focused even more on cyberattacks on the Ukrainian government and corporate networks.
When Alphabet’s darknet market for drugs and stolen data was shut down in 2017, and its creator Alexander Cazes was found dead in a Thai prison, everyone thought the AlphaBay story was over. But last summer, Alphabet was revived under the leadership of DeSnake, its co-founder and right-hand man of Cazes.
Now Alphabet is back among the leaders of criminal marketplaces, albeit with some new rules. So, the sale of fentanyl and ransomware viruses is prohibited on the platform. He also updated the site’s security system to make it even more difficult to close it: now you can only pay with Monero cryptocurrency, which is much more difficult to track. And DeSnake himself, according to him, is in the country of the former USSR, so it will also be difficult to detain him.
In 2022, the world continued to suffer from the dominance of ransomware, and no other group demonstrates this threat as vividly as Conti. In the first few months of the year, the group attacked dozens of government and corporate institutions. Among the worst: the group launched a wave of cyberattacks in Costa Rica, shutting down 27 government agencies and medical facilities, which led to the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, the group announced its full support for the war, which led to the leak of the group’s internal correspondence, which was caused by a member dissatisfied with such an announcement. After that, Conti broke up, but probably only in words. They have most likely regrouped in a new line-up and will continue to use their profitable business model.
Worse than a group of ruthless hacker-consumers is a group of ruthless hackers-extortionists of teen age. In December 2021, Lapsus$ made its debut on the hacker scene: the group attacked the Brazilian Ministry of Health. This was followed by ostentatious hacks of major tech companies, including Uber, Okta, Rockstar Games, Nvidia, Microsoft, Samsung and Vodafone.
Last spring, British law enforcement officers arrested seven people suspected of involvement in the group, and all of them were from 16 to 21. One of those arrested was even allegedly a 16-year-old criminal genius of the group. But they were all released without charges and the group continued to wreak havoc.
The Chinese group, covered by the Chinese government, has been working for years for its enrichment. Just this month, the group was linked to the theft of $20 million that was intended to help victims of Covid — an unprecedented robbery of the American government by a hacker group sponsored by the Chinese government.
In addition, APT41 is responsible for dozens of espionage data thefts around the world. This analytical company calls the group the largest cyber espionage operation in the world. Even though the US Department of Justice indicted seven members of the group in 2020, they are still wanted, and their espionage and theft operations continue unhindered.