Add LivingSocial to the list of major online businesses that have been hacked. Forbes and New York Times have reported that 70% of user data at this “daily deals” firm has been hacked; 50 million out of their 70 million users! This incident is more of a story about the advancement of hackers than the foolishness of LivingSocial, and it serves as a warning to all online business and users to watch out.
LivingSocial reported that no credit card information was hacked, but usernames, email addresses, passwords and date of births were. Most people assume that this is not a big deal because the hackers do not have users’ credit card information, but an entrance into your email introduces a whole new world of information for hackers. Think about how many websites you use the same email addresses and passwords for, now think about what could happen if a hacker has that information. Scared? Should be. We, as internet users, tend to not worry about the information we give to websites, but this is what can happen when a website’s security is breached; the company is not the only one who suffers, the users do too.
This incident is not primarily a case of LivingSocial’s negligence, but more an example of “sophisticated” hackers. LivingSocial does make a conscience attempt to protect their users’ information through a method of “hashing” passwords. As New York Times reported, hashing “involves mashing users’ passwords with a mathematical algorithim.” LivingSocial did this to make it harder for information to be hacked, but they did not make it impossible. This case shows the advancement of the tactics of hackers, and how they are learning to beat methods like hashing. This incident relates to our discussions on IT security, and I think it is a relevant reminder to all to use different passwords and usernames to make it harder for hackers to be able to access your information. In addition, I think it is a reminder that we need to be careful as to what information we put on which websites, to make sure we make smart decisions as we become more reliant on technology. How secure do you feel on the Internet?