HACKING PUTS US
AT RISK ONLINE
The next day my wife, Kathy, wanted to make sure the purchase link was functioning properly. So she went to the blog, where she discovered that overnight all the links had been altered to take anyone who clicked on them to some other website.
I had obviously been hacked.
Identifying the root URL of that mysterious page, she discovered that the underlying platform was a page written in Ukrainian.
What was this?
I’m of Ukrainian extraction. Is there someone back in the Old Country harboring a long-standing grudge against my emigrant grandfather? Do we owe money to some disgruntled relative over there? Why would anyone have taken it upon themselves to hack this blog?
Michael, my brilliant computer tech son-in-law, restored all the content and functionality, though he had to rely on a backup file from a week before. Accordingly, we lost a handful of reader comments which had been added in the past few days.
Other than that, all is well. But this experience certainly makes one think.
While disrupting my little blog poses no great menace to the Internet, other recent hacks have had major impact in the world of online commerce — which covers, to some degree, pretty much all commerce these days.
Several leading corporations have experienced malicious digital attacks, crippling their operations and exposing massive amounts of confidential customer data.
Some months ago, both Kathy and I received warnings about possible compromise of our personal information. We were offered free identity monitoring.
This stuff happens all the time. The hacks have become increasingly sophisticated, the damage more extensive.
And the fact that my little blog could become a target — obscure as it is, and with absolutely nothing for anyone to gain by penetrating it — shows that no site is immune.
Whatever the motives behind them, such acts have exceeded the definition of mere criminal activity. In our age when all business is so thoroughly interconnected, this online nastiness has become a certain kind of economic terrorism. It should be treated as such.
In the 1994 movie, “Clear and Present Danger” (based on the Tom Clancy novel of that title), special operatives of the White House organize a secret hit squad to go down to Colombia and take out drug processing labs at the source.
I’ve never read the book, but in the film, CIA chief Jack Ryan (played by Harrison Ford) finds out about the plan and exposes it to Congress. Ryan’s conscience is troubled by the imperialist, even anti-American, character of the operation.
Perhaps it says something about my moral deficiencies, but the approach always struck me as quite defensible. And I wonder if it might be applied to the hacking problem.
Well, anti-American or not, it’s probably too simplistic. And I do acknowledge a certain moral murkiness.
But at the very least, there ought to be a high level of international cooperative effort in bringing to bar wicked actors like my errant Ukrainian relatives. At the least, I can see special accommodations being provided at Guantanamo.
Technology has brought great blessings. But it’s exposed us to new forms of threat.
Should this blog be attacked again, you can no doubt live without reading my ramblings for a couple of days. But I’ll bet your life would be significantly impacted if your bank was hacked.
And with the Web so dominant today, it isn’t only our financial lives that are in peril. Even in the bathroom we’re at risk — or soon will be. Back in 2013, Fox News reported on vulnerabilities of the Japanese-made, Web-linked Satis smart toilet…
“They could also take control of the unit’s lid, causing it to unexpectedly and repeatedly open and close, thereby distracting you from the all-important job in hand.”
Is no place safe from digital intrusion? One hopes the Satis folks have developed safeguards by now…
We’re all in this together. And we really do face a clear and present danger.