Can we ever feel safe?

At any point in time when we are surfing the Internet there may be dozens of people trying to lure us into a trap and steal important information from us. Technology is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, this is completely cliché, but this relatively newfound ability to search the Internet allows criminals another avenue to exploit innocent people. The scariest part is how truly easy it is for them.  The subtlest change in a URL could very well cost you your social security number. Thousands of people are duped by a hacker over the Internet everyday, who is to say that you will not be the next.

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As we learned in class, these hackers do not only operate over the Internet, but up close in the flesh as well. Who knows, maybe that person you held the door open for the other day was a criminal who came in to steal valuable information off someone’s computer. A week ago this thought would have never crept into my mind, but after reading about it in our textbook it seems like a very real possibility. There are so many offline ways that these criminals attempt to solicit information from people. For example, the 10 was just one of the many we learned about and arguably the most effective. It is entirely reasonable to think that a person would give information to another person because he/she finds him/her attractive. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t give information to someone they found attractive, it’s in our human nature. Jake Gyllenhaul perfected the 10 in the movie love and other drugs.

Despite all the destruction and thievery that comes about due to hacking, the ability to hack has its shining moments as well. As detailed in our book, the joint efforts of the U.S. and Israel created a worm (Stuxnet) that attacked the computers controlling the equipment at Iran’s nuclear facilities and eventually led to the destruction of the equipment. The worm was so intricate that even though it was spinning the centrifuges at alarmingly fast rates the readings came up as normal so the workers thought nothing was wrong. It was too late when they finally figured out what was going on and Iran’s hopes of any nuclear threat ceased to exist. This instance of great success for the U.S. shows that although hacking can be troublesome for many and tough to police, there is still some good that can come from malware.

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However, as is the case more often than not hacking is used with the intent to do much more harm than good. This again proved to be the case. In Lebanon, hackers posted the names of important secret witnesses for the trail of the killing of the former Prime minister on a major Lebanese news website. This is already a trial that has been delayed for years and now with the witnesses names having gone public they will be much less likely to come forward with information. The move by the hackers was clearly done to intimidate the witnesses, which will most likely further prolong the trial. What this unfortunate incident shows along with the many that came before it is that IT security needs to become a priority. Many people underestimate the presence of hackers and their abilities and this is when people find themselves getting in serious trouble. Losing your BC I.D. is unfortunate, but losing your identity is life altering.

For more information on the Lebanon hacking:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/14/world/middleeast/hackers-reveal-witness-names-in-hariri-murder-trial.html?ref=technology&_r=0

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5 thoughts on “Can we ever feel safe?

  1. First off, very clever closing remark! I think you did a really nice job of adding on to the class lecture on IT Security this week. The clip was also a good addition. Before this discussion I never realized there were so many ways that hackers get information. Sometimes they don’t even do the work themselves! They simply get another person to hack a computer, unknowingly, like we heard about with the new employee example when the employee stayed late at the office and was convinced to get information from the boss’ computer. It is scary how our own human nature can deceive us just because we want to please other people. I really hope that measures are taken to increase security, but then people will just be unhappy that sites become less user-friendly as a result. There is a trade-off but I think it is necessary to keep people’s private information secure.

  2. This post did a good job of showing the positive and negative effects of hacking. Although most hacking is dangerous, you give examples of the US destroying Iran’s nuclear equipment and the positive national security effects hacking can have. It can be important for governments to be able to access other nations’ information for security reasons, but this is also frightening because other countries can do the same to us. I think no matter how many laws and how much IT security improves, our information will always be vulnerable on the Internet, so we just have to use that knowledge carefully. Also, unless we have global laws and regulations that monitor our Internet use, increasing laws about punishment is not always effective because many hackers are international, and there is no way to punish people outside domestic borders. This is a good blog that uses videos, pictures, links and class material effectively.

  3. This article along with the class discussion truly did open my eyes to the extent of hackers and the multitude of scales in which hackers work.. from stealing identities to stealing files from multinationals to attacking nuclear facilities abroad. I think it is interesting to what extent we are taking risks everyday by being on the internet as an individual and also to a larger scale.. for instance as a member of Boston College network we could potentially be risking the entire student body by what we look at on the internet. I enjoyed the video.. comic relief yet certainly a true aspect of IT security. I think a major question is how much time, energy and money we should put into IT security.. does the slight possibility of loosing extremely important information outweigh the extremely high costs for security? This topic definitely emphasizes how companies are taking risks every moment and the high volatility of IT security and hacking.

  4. I was truly impressed, and scared, by the IT security lecture we had in class the other day. The unbelievable number of ways for a hacker to take your identity or rob your business. Or the fact that it isn’t entirely technologically. Sometimes you are the weakness he or she exploits. I liked this blog because your thought process and line mirrored mine. Thanks also for providing a mood-lightening example of the occasional benefits of hacks.

  5. Nice post! I really liked how you showed both signs of hacking, positive and negative. Whenever anyone hears the world hacking, there is an automatic negative connotation to it. However, as you’ve pointed out, hacking can be used for resourceful reasons as well. On the note of Israel and the US against Iran, while this may seem like a ‘positive’ form of hacking, it is also important to consider the implications for future warfare. What is cyber terrorism going to look like in the future? Hacking can obviously be manipulated in many different ways by many different people, and I agree with you, it is pretty scary.

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