Saturday, August 11, 2012

Apple, Amazon Announce Changes After Hacking of Wired Reporter

Most of us take the things we have for granted until we lose them. That goes for jobs, friends, our youth and every other thing we hold dear. So, how does it feel when you really do lose everything?

Ask Mat Honan.

Honan, a writer for the tech magazine Wired, is the type of guy who keeps his whole life in “the cloud” – a digital storage space that has no real physical location and is maintained by a collection of unknowable network systems. Honan’s cloud of choice was the iCloud, a storage service offered by Apple, and in the span of less than an hour the bulk of his digital existence was stolen and then erased by a hacker.

The hacker, who agreed to share his method with Honan in exchange for the writer’s promise not to press charges, demonstrated how he used gaps in Amazon and Apple security protocols to harvest enough data to break into Honan’s iCloud account. The hack was shockingly non-technical and only involved a couple calls to set up new passwords to get the required data.

Now both Amazon and Apple have announced they are revamping their security procedures and the new policies that are sure to come will make password resets and account access much more difficult for hackers. Of course, that means those same tasks will become harder for consumers as well and Apple users have already noticed difficulty with accessing their various accounts.

The ramifications of this are not yet clear, but it is safe to assume that more problems are on the horizon as the security of digital cloud storage services – which many argue will become the norm in the near future – will infringe upon the convenience and privacy of users. 

There are several ways to help safeguard against a total loss of data. Backing up information on a personal hard drive, privatizing Web registration data and creating a firewall between sensitive accounts are all options people can use to increase online protection. Honan’s misfortune should be a reminder to all that corporate security measures should be thought of as a secondary measure of defense against the failure of our own personal efforts to stay safe online.

{Guest Author] James Madeiros is a staff writer for
Criminal Justice Degree Schools, a career resource that provides information on education options for earning a cybersecurity degree.

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