PSN back, but the hacks keep coming

Rodney Gedda

Rodney Gedda is the former deputy editor of CIO and former editor of Techworld.

I finally bothered to reinstate my PSN account, but with all the hacking that’s going on apart from Sony it’s left me wondering if worse incidents are yet to come.

Firstly, to clarify how Sony has been resetting user account passwords. I blogged about how Sony should use the console itself as part of the account reset process. It turns it does exactly that.

When you attempt to sign in to PSN with the console an error message is displayed and an e-mail with a one-time token in a URL is sent to your e-mail address. So the reset action is in response to a user action and not random – apologies for any confusion about that.

2011, however, is proving to be a lot more hectic than just the PSN attack.

Not a day seems to go by without news of a new hacking incident. It’s almost like a perfect storm has risen where hacking groups are using their power for social and political purposes.

Of course, the concept of “hactivism” is nothing new, but 2011 is seeing a level of hactivism not yet witnessed. Governments and corporations are being targeted on a massive scale.

Just this week LulzSec took down a number of gaming sites “just for laughs”.

A concern is will this new era of political hacking eventually translate into a crime tsunami?

I don’t think hactivits will prey on innocent people (otherwise they wouldn’t be hactivists), but that doesn’t mean compromised data can’t fall into the wrong hands.

Even LulzSec admits some of the data is siphons out of networks is “simply too delicious” to release.

So what’s causing it all? There’s certainly no one factor a play here. It’s complex mixture of proactive and reactive forces. It’s proactive in the sense the tools to hack with a now more plentiful, the barriers not strong enough and the lure of the almighty dollar is a strong as ever. And it’s reactive in the Wikileaks sense – if governments and corporations weren’t so totalitarian with individuals then there would be less desire to “teach them a lesson”, so to speak.

In the case of Sony it was publicly warned by Anonymous back in April of pending attacks.

What can we consumers do about it? Not a lot, I’m afraid. If a hacker wants access to something there’s a good chance they will get it.

But what we can follow the basic password, encryption and anti-phishing practices that are likely to keep our data safe. In the event of a Cloud service being hacked, there’s not much we can do about it, which is why it’s equally important to keep a record of what type of information we divulge when subscribing to something online.

If we have a record of what information is provided we can then act in a controlled manner in the event of a data breach.

If there’s one benefit to come out of this “perfect storm” of hacking in 2011, let’s hope it is raising the awareness of information security importance to the same level we hold for our most prized physical possessions.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

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Tags: privacy, hacking, phishing, hactivism

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