By now, you may have heard the gut wrenching story of Mat Honan’s digital life gone awry…iPhone, iPad, and MacBook all wiped clean in an instant. Mat lost all his baby daughter’s photos with no backup. His Amazon account compromised…AppleID account infiltrated…Twitter account trashed and used for spreading hateful language. These treacherous events all happened within one short hour. Where does this nightmare end? How did it happen all to one guy? Is he the only guy? The scary part is “no.” He’s just one of many. Luckily, he has the journalistic platform to share his pain with big business and with us. Hopefully the likes of Amazon and Apple have learned from Mat’s ordeal. This story is just one of many lessons as we live and learn in our digital lives.
Here’s the bottom-line, hackers pieced together Mat’s information from Amazon, Apple, and the Internet to gain unauthorized access to his accounts. Here’s Mat’s full story.
Honan’s assessment of the problem stems from this one credit card fact and its many implications, “The very four digits that Amazon considers unimportant enough to display in the clear on the web are precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to perform identity verification.”
Apple and Amazon have acted quickly with some stopgap measures. Apple has temporarily suspended the ability to reset passwords over the phone (i.e. only online via iForget system) and Amazon has instituted a more stringent customer verification process (details undisclosed at this time). In due time, we’ll see what their respective long term plans may be to protect us, their highly-valued customers.
They’re taking action, but it’ll take time. So, what can we do now? Do your own due diligence and protect yourself. As Mat Honan recounts, he’s ultimately mad at himself for not taking more precautions. So be wise and learn from Mat. Backup your irreplaceable photos, precious video footage, and confidential data. Be careful about daisy-chaining accounts. And be smart about establishing two-factor authentication.
Be safe out there.
If you have any other quick tips, please share.
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