360 million passwords show dangerous online landscape
This “Peace” hacker is really making a name for him or herself. A username, that is. First LinkedIn, now MySpace. You remember, MySpace? The social networking equivalent of those cave paintings at Lascaux. Eight years ago online certainly seems like prehistory, and it was that amount of time that the site last reigned supreme, boasting over 75 million regular users, before Facebook and Twitter rose to the top of the evolutionary ladder, dominating the struggle of natural selection. Nevertheless, those millions of users still had accounts, complete with usernames and passwords…that have now been stolen. 360 million user records, in fact, have just this last week been put on the market (and 427 million passwords), as first reported by the leaked data search engine LeakedSource. These records were reportedly poorly protected, and extremely susceptible to decryption.
True, many of those who had MySpace accounts might no longer frequent the site, but their data is still there; the real danger from this hack then becomes the reuse of information like usernames and passwords across other sites. Someone purchasing stolen records will then try those credentials on different platforms. A survey conducted by password management app Password Boss, showing that 59 percent of consumers find it easiest to use the same passwords for multiple accounts, reveals that more than a few people are likely at risk. Likewise, for businesses, since employees reusing a personal password in that context creates a severe vulnerability—something company leaders need to recognize and address.
So, that makes two Internet mammoths whose pelts Peace has claimed, but there are plenty of other threats lurking that should keep people mindful of their online activities and their data’s security. Researchers at Kasperksy Lab are now pointing out the risk of plugging in your mobile device into a public charging station or computer, as this connection allows the transfer of data. The type and quantity of information varies, but it always includes the device manufacturer, device name and serial number, which is sufficient for even a novice hacker to turn into a key (with a little research) to your phone. Indeed, as with cases like that of the new public wi-fi service in New York City, and the security concerns posed over its implementation, it would seem that “free” and “public” also connote “be careful.”
It’s one big, connected world we live in. Alertness is key to keeping your data safe. All these stories, though, might just make me stick a little droid in my car.