A writer loses everything on his iPhone, his iPad and his Mac—including all of the photos from the first year and a half of his daughter’s life—after a hacker infiltrates his Amazon, Apple, Gmail and Twitter accounts:
Had I been regularly backing up the data on my MacBook, I wouldn’t have had to worry about losing more than a year’s worth of photos, covering the entire lifespan of my daughter, or documents and e-mails that I had stored in no other location.
Those security lapses are my fault, and I deeply, deeply regret them.
But what happened to me exposes vital security flaws in several customer service systems, most notably Apple’s and Amazon’s. Apple tech support gave the hackers access to my iCloud account. Amazon tech support gave them the ability to see a piece of information — a partial credit card number — that Apple used to release information. In short, the very four digits that Amazon considers unimportant enough to display in the clear on the web are precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to perform identity verification. The disconnect exposes flaws in data management policies endemic to the entire technology industry, and points to a looming nightmare as we enter the era of cloud computing and connected devices.
“How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking.” — Mat Honan, Wired
I’m almost embarrassed by how I feel reading this story. It really made me realize that someone accessing your online profiles can almost be as scary as physically getting robbed these days. I knew it was silly but I really did feel like I was reading somebody’s tale of finding out their home had been broken into. I don’t understand how he was able to talk to the hacker, I would have been too enraged to even type a sentence to the guy, but it does provide some valuable insight into who does things like this and what their motivation is. We throw around these idealistic and self-righteous purposes but at the end of the day you are still victimizing someone. Hopefully we can all learn something from Mat’s story and take precautions to better protect our data in the era of the cloud. Also take notice to how much of a role social engineering had in this, I feel he doesn’t stress that point enough.