Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Slate

August 9, 2012

Slate: 4 steps to avoid getting hacked

(Continued)

Billing addresses are easy to find online, and credit card numbers are only slightly more difficult to come by. The hacker had both bits of data on Honan. He'd found the billing address by looking up the registration of Honan's personal website, and he'd gotten the credit card number by calling the support line of another tech behemoth, Amazon. The hacker had asked Amazon to place his — the hacker's — email address on Honan's account, which Amazon happily did. Then the hacker issued a forgotten password request on Amazon's website — this sent a link to the hacker's email, allowing him to change Honan's password and get full access to his Amazon account, including the ability to see the last four digits of his credit card.

Bingo! Now the hacker could get into Honan's Apple account, which allowed him to delete everything connected to Honan's iCloud profile (his iPad, iPhone and Mac). Because Honan had set his Apple account as his Google account's alternate address, the hacker only had to issue another forgotten-password request for Honan's Gmail to fall, too.

This is a sorry tale. There were lots of lapses here — relatively small ones by Honan (he hadn't backed up his data), and huge, glaring, scary ones by Apple and Amazon. But if you examine this epic hack, you'll find a few simple lessons.

Here are the four things users and companies could do immediately to reduce these kinds of attacks:

1) Everyone should turn on two-factor authentication now.

To get into most online accounts, you only need to dig up a single piece of data — a password. (The username on many services — including email accounts, Twitter, and Facebook — is your public handle, available to everyone.)

There was a time when passwords were enough (and you should follow my advice on how to create very strong, easy to remember passwords: http://slate.me/NPHd3h). But now we've all got so many online accounts protecting so much valuable information that we need something in addition to passwords.

Text Only
Slate
  • baby-generic.jpg For millennials, out-of-wedlock childbirth is the norm

    This month brings us yet another reminder that, for young Americans, having children outside of marriage is very much "the new normal," as The New York Times once put it.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • May 2014 was the hottest may in recorded history

    According to new data released this week, May 2014 is officially the warmest May in recorded history.
    Both NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency have tentatively ranked May at the top of historical measurements, though NASA's numbers are preliminary because crucial information is still missing from China.

    June 20, 2014

  • GM recalls soar past 20 million. Why don't consumers care?

    In case you thought there couldn't possibly be another General Motors recall so soon, you're just not thinking big enough. This week, GM said it was recalling 3.36 million more cars. The cause: an ignition switch defect that could result in keys carrying extra weight (read: a keychain) to slip out of position and shut the vehicle off abruptly during "some jarring event."

    June 18, 2014

  • No one is against devoted dads

    Father's Day is Sunday, which means that it's time for pundits and politicians to scold the American public - with special ire reserved for black members of the American public - for our supposed indifference to the wonder and awe of fatherhood.

    June 12, 2014

  • 74129880-graduates.jpg The fate of the overeducated and underemployed

    According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, about 44 percent of young bachelor's degree holders lucky enough to be working are employed in positions that technically don't require their degree. While that number isn't far off from the historical norm — 22-year-olds have always needed a little time to find their professional footing — the fraction stuck scraping bottom in truly low-paying jobs has grown quite a bit since the recession.

    June 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Skype's real-time language translator

    This week at Re/Code's Code Conference, Microsoft announced a real-time, multilingual translation beta called Skype Translate. The service can mediate between two video chatterers who speak different languages by providing text and audio translation after each person finishes speaking. Currently the service works for English and German, but Microsoft says it will support other languages soon. The beta will be released later this year.

    May 29, 2014

  • New Orleans does away with traditional public schools

    The second-graders paraded to the Dumpster in the rear parking lot, where they chucked boxes of old work sheets, notebooks and other detritus into the trash, emptying their school for good.

    May 29, 2014

  • Amazon sells steroids and stimulants banned in sports

    I have by no means executed a comprehensive search of wares sold by Amazon directly or through its third-party sellers, but I found other prescription drugs for sale without a prescription, including the antibiotic norfloxacin and the muscle relaxant methocarbamol. Both compounds, like clindamycin, warrant careful oversight to avoid complications or endangering public health, such as by breeding antibiotic resistance.

    May 29, 2014

  • 2010-Winter-Olympic-Games-001.jpg Nobody wants to host the Winter Olympics

    If we end up watching slopestyle from the Central Asia steppes in 2022, it will likely be because it's becoming clear that nobody in Europe wants to host these Olympics anymore. Publics may finally be getting wise to the fact that the long-term economic benefits of hosting mega-events like the Olympics or the World Cup are usually negligible at best.

    May 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Woman sues a New York Hospital for forcing a C-section. Can doctors do that?

    Though Dray's doctor claims he did not force her to have a C-section, her hospital record included a note signed by the hospital's director of maternal and fetal medicine that said, "I have decided to override her refusal to have a C-section."

    May 21, 2014