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It’s a facet of modern life that computer scientists have been warning us about for years: malicious, almost terroristic hacking of our online and personal accounts by outside groups devoted to compromising security systems. Akin to breaking into a bank’s headquarters and stealing customer files, the recent outbreak of hacking has affected even the most diligent online users.
Proof that even a thorough online security strategy can’t save you from hackers comes in the form of Chester Wisniewski. He created a different password for every single one of his online accounts — 488 in total. But when a recent hacking event struck the PlayStation marketplace operated by Sony, he soon found himself on the losing end of the deal. His password had been stolen and his financial information was on the loose.
Of course, he followed the path that we all take when one of this incidents hits home: he checked to make sure no other accounts used that password, he cancelled his credit card, and alerted his bank to the potential for fraudulent activity. Nevertheless, he serves as proof that 488 passwords is still not enough to be immune from an increasingly malicious and dangerous search for customers’ private information.
Average consumers aren’t the only people who have to consistently worry about their private information and financial integrity. A newly formed hacking group named “Anonymous,” which surfaced after the WikiLeaks document scandal in the United States, has been targeting political leaders, political parties, and certain interest groups and political action communities with its hacking attempts.
Its most recent success involved hacking into the private database of a U.S. military contractor and stealing more than 90,000 military email addresses. Those email addresses ranged from private individuals all the way up to Lockheed Martin’s email addresses for their corporate accounts. It was one of the largest hacking scandals to affect the U.S. armed forces to date, and it poses major national security risks going forward.
Social Media Hacking
And as if the threatening of private individuals and the U.S. military wasn’t enough, a recent group of hackers got access to the Fox News Channel’s account on Twitter and posted fake news stories stories that carried the gravitas of the news agency behind them. One of those stories claimed that President Barack Obama had been assassinated — a serious offense in a country which has experienced numerous presidential assassinations throughout its history.
That hacking attempt is being investigated by the secret service as a threat to national security — and no less of an investigation is required. Hacking continues to increase in severity and the degree to which it threatens the security of entire countries, as well as their individual citizens.
There really is no safe place to hide, and no completely sound way to browse the internet, and remain safe from hackers and identity theft. Unfortunately, it’s a risk that all people — and their governments and media outlets — simply have to assume by logging on.
But it’s a good idea to have 488 passwords and try to mitigate the damage caused by these hacking groups. One can never be too careful, and perhaps a little extra caution will stop the damage at the PlayStation headquarters instead of bringing it right to every credit card in your wallet, and application on your smartphone.