Mashable co-editor Ben Parr appeared on G4’s “Attack of the Show” today to discuss the Gawker hacks and give his opinion on the impact this could have. Many people have gone about their business today after reading the news, not particularly caring one way or the other about the security breach. Many of us laughed a bit over our morning coffee, of course.
What the majority of people failed to realize, though, is how far-reaching this could potentially be. Hundreds of thousands of username/password combinations are now in the hands of hackers. How many of those people are you willing to wager use that same combo on other sites, such as Nick Denton himself does for Twitter, Facebook and Gmail? Out of those people, how many actually changed their passwords today to lock down their various accounts?
Sadly, not many people are listening. Approximately twenty-four hours ago, Twitter was taken over for a while by many MANY thousands of Tweets talking about Acai berry juice or some such nonsense. At first, people assumed that there was a worm spreading quickly through the popular social networking site. Later research revealed the scary truth: the compromised Twitter accounts were people whose Gawker accounts had been hacked. Someone simply used the information to prove yet another point. This one was made on Twitter. Will the next one be made on Facebook?
Seriously, folks – how many times do you need to be told to use a secure password? Is this really so difficult a concept to understand? If you aren’t using strong passwords, you can – and WILL – be hacked. Just ask Gawker Media how easy that is to do. Over the weekend, Gawker saw all of their databases compromised. User names and passwords used to comment on the various sites were grabbed. Internal information, conversations and passwords were snatched and publicized. The entire situation was quite an embarassment to the people at Gawker. However, the worst part of this entire mess is finding out how many thousands of you out there use inane passwords on sites such as this.
Nearly 200,000 passwords were leaked from within Gawker’s walls. More than three thousand people used the password 123456 on the site. Oh. My. God. Really? Another two thousand un-savvy people used the word password as their login of choice. *sigh*
I’m willing to bet these same people use these passwords for other sites, as well. I can already hear some person yelling at their screen while reading this: “No one would want to hack me! Why do *I* need to be secure? I have nothing to hide!” Oh how wrong you are, young grasshoppers.
Have you ever bought something online? Bam! Hackers want that information. Do you log into your bank account from your computer? How often do you check your PayPal balance, update your profiles and information on websites or even check in on FourSquare? Criminals do want every scrap of information you have sitting on that purty little hard drive of yours, and you’re handing it to them on a silver platter.
It’s not ME you need to satisfy by making your passwords secure – it’s you. You need to protect yourself. I can’t do it for you. Personally, I advocate using a password generator/manager such as LastPass.