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What Should You Know About Matt Honan’s Epic Hacking?

August 13th, 2012

This last weekend an epic hacking occurred to senior Wired journalist Matt Honan. It was epic in the sense of both the level of damage that was done to Matt’s digital life and the fact that it exploited loop holes in Amazon and Apple support procedures.

The hackers managed to delete Matt’s gmail account, take over his twitter account and AppleID and wipe his iPhone, iPad and Mac laptop. In effect they completely wiped out his digital life in a period of an hour or so last Friday.

There are several  good detail descriptions of the whole time line of Matt’s curious adventure and what went on and what the hackers did (here, here and here). I think there are some important insights to be gained from Matt’s misfortune:

  1. Our digital lives are far more fragile than we realize! We all assume that all the online security procedures of major online companies are carefully thought out and tested. Some are thought out better than others.
  2. Even Amazon and Apple can have loop holes in their security procedures.
  3. Regular backup is essential yet many that no better are not doing it. Matt had no backup for his laptop.
  4. Anyone that has a gmail account should have two-factor authentication activated. Matt didn’t have this and it would have stopped the hack.
  5. It’s inconvenient, but you should NOT use the same email address for Amazon, your AppleID and Gmail. Matt, did and that was a major factor in the success of this hack.

These hackers did us all a service for exposing these Apple and Amazon security loop holes in their support and password reseting procedures. Apple allowed telephone password reseting of your AppleID with the information your pizza delivery guy has about you (billing address and last 4 of your credit card). Amazon had the last four digits of your credit card in the clear on the web. As of this writing Apple and Amazon have fixed both of these problems.

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3 Responses to “What Should You Know About Matt Honan’s Epic Hacking?”

  • I saw him on This Week In Tech, and the thought that he might have lost many/most of his family photos on his unbacked-up laptop is painful!

  • What a nightmare. A laptop or phone crashing, singularly, is bad enough, but the lot! Poor guy.

  • This is a hard lesson. Trust no single source to host or contain all of your files and information. Have multiple backups in place. I back up to two hard drives plus all of my client images get backed up to DVD and on top of that I have a Carbonite online backup running continuously. All of this is cheap insurance. I cannot believe that someone as tech savvy as a writer for Wired Magazine wouldn’t have backups in place. As far as cloud storage goes, you better have redundant backups for that information. As in physical world clouds tend to evaporate.

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