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Attack of the Hackers

Hackers have been a mainstream topic recently. And these aren’t the fun hacks like beauty hacks or back-to-school hacks. We’re talking cyber hacks. Celebrities were victimized in the Sony hack, cheaters were exposed after AshleyMadison.com breach, and most recently the director of the CIA John Brennan had his email hacked by a teenager and his friends. This teen tricked Verizon and AOL employees—with relative ease— to get access to Brennan’s information and from there he was able to access his personal email.

So it’s official, NO ONE is safe on the Internet. Take this as a cautionary tale and go off the grid immediately.

Ok maybe that’s a little dramatic. But this goes to show how vulnerable we all are. If the head of a U.S. government intelligence agency focused on national security can be hacked, the rest of us must be easy targets.

As one of the first generations to grow up with the Internet as an everyday tool, we’ve been taught about internet security ever since we were finally allowed to make that MySpace page in middle school.  Mom and Dad laid down the ground rules: Make your account private, don’t share any personal information, don’t talk to strangers. Since then, however, the landscape of the Internet has changed. Technology has improved and we have incredibly powerful devices that we use every day. But this progress comes at a cost. We are putting ourselves at risk for private information going public, identity theft and financial scams. Years ago people were typically concerned about predators, but now the real threat is hackers.

As our technology advances, so does the abilities of hackers. These hackers don’t need super computers either. It can be anyone with the computer, even just some high schooler.

Let’s say your wallet is stolen. You may lose some cash and then you’ll have to cancel your credit card but that’s minor compared to the damage that can be on a computer. With very little information, hackers can get all your information, access to personal files and empty your bank account, all without you knowing. Plus they are protected by the anonymity of the web.

The government has attempted to intervene, but people argue that the proposed methods are an invasion of privacy. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 is the most recent bill. It’s controversial because its supposed to only allow the government to have access to information about cyberthreats, but some groups and individuals believe that the government would gain access to more personal information as well. As it makes its way through our legislative system it continues to be debated, but ultimately it all boils down to the fundamental argument of security versus privacy and which one people are willing to sacrifice.

Whether you agree or not, this legislation has yet to be approved, so we are left on our own for now, every man, woman, and child for themselves. Although most of these major hacks are fueled by politics and bad blood, anyone can be a victim. According to the Federal Trade Commision, almost 12 million people had their identity stolen between 2006 and 2008. Anyone can be a target, from Jennifer Lawrence to the CIA director to an average college student.

So be mindful of your online presence and be careful with your information because these cyberbullies don’t want to call you names or steal your lunch money; they want to take your social security number and steal all your savings.

 

Photo Credit: 1, 2

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