Ex Gizmodo Writer Mat Honan Hacked – Epically

Yesterday, Mat wrote a post on his personal blog about how he was recently hacked. The article itself makes for really interesting yet catastrophic reading (for Mat at least). Mat is an avid Apple user with an iPhone, iPad & Macbook and he uses iCloud to backup all his devices to the cloud.

iCloud has a feature whereby you can remotely wipe your Apple device should it fall into the wrong hands. Unfortunately though, this can be a double edged sword as it’s obviously possible to wipe your device by mistake or maliciously. This is what happened to Mat…

No-one knows what exactly happened yet but from what Mat has said in his blog post, it looks as if the hacker got into his iCloud account, by somehow cracking or brute forcing his insecure, seven digit, alphanumeric password that he has had “for years and years”. Once into his iCloud account, the hacker deleted all of Mat’s backups and then wiped all three of his devices – yes that’s right, ALL his data on all his devices is gone! This data included all his personal photos, of which he specifically mentioned of his young daughter.

To add insult to injury, Mat’s iCloud account is linked to his Gmail account so the hacker could gain access to this also. Once the hacker was in Gmail that was the end of it. The hacker could now use forgot password links (which sends reset information to your chosen email) to get onto his online accounts like Twitter. The hcker then proceeded to write a load of spam Tweets on the Gizmodo’s twitter feed. Finally, the hacker deleted Mat’s emails then closed the account down. So along with all his personal data, his emails are gone too!

This is a perfect example as to why I post regularly about password and online security. All online users should use complicated passwords, I recently wrote an article on how to create complicated yet easy to remember passwords. Two factor authentication such as Google Authenticator should also be used where possible.

If this isn’t a wake up call for people to take password and online security seriously, then I don’t know what is.

Will this inspire you to take security more seriously or do you think this is just an unlucky isolated case? Tell us what you think in the comments….

Side Note – beware, rant coming up!

I’ve been reading through the comments on Mat’s post and I am astonished by the cruelty that some of the commenters (maybe better described as trolls) are being to Mat. Numerous people laughing at him and saying things like “serves you right for using Apple”.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really like what Apple stand for or how they go about things, but this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he uses Apple devices.  This kind of functionality (remote backup & wiping) is available across most platforms, HTC Sense & Prey are a couple that spring to mind.

I personally think its disgusting the way some people on that thread are reacting to Mat’s demise. If they were in Mat’s position, I’m sure they wouldn’t be so quick to laugh and post personal attacks. Could Mat have used a better password? Yes of course he could. But is this in anyway Mat’s fault? Not a chance, this is the hackers fault and no one else’s.

Right, I’ve put my soap box away – back to business as usual. :)

Ex Gizmodo Writer Mat Honan Hacked – Epically
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  • Erik Wasmund

    His backup strategy could use a little work. My important data (pictures, tax documents etc) are backed up in multiple places. The likely hood of all my backups being deleted at the same time is virtually impossible because I have multiple cloud backups and multiple local backups.

  • shadowguy14

    Honestly I just keep my personal stuff on a flash drive and on my laptop, I don’t really trust the cloud to keep my stuff safe anymore. This is very sad, and makes me think this was personal

  • http://profiles.google.com/pmazz04 Pete Mazzaccaro

    The killer is having someone able to wipe your laptop remotely…. I can see the advantage if a laptop is stolen, but, man, that’s a nightmare.

    • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

      I think it’s like cracking a walnut with a sledge hammer. A much more elegant solution (IMHO) to protect your data in the evening of your laptop being stolen is to simply encrypt your hard drive.

      Remote wipe is fine for phones, as, let’s face it – we don’t really store much sensitive or important data on them. Except photos which should be backed up. But it’s a really bad idea for laptops and desktops.

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