Life’s a Hack

Hey there, neuromancers.

This week I feel that we need to talk about something more serious. The cover story of this month’s Wired magazine by senior staff writer Mat Hogan was a rather intense read—blunting at first, then numbing—laying out how his online footprint was shattered and rifled through in span of an hour.

It hit too close to home; his Amazon ID hacked on the road to his gmail, his Apple ID, paypal… it was almost too easy to imagine myself there.

The thin veil between the digital and physical world is one constantly eroding. In taking over his online self, his corporeal one couldn’t be too far behind. They had access to his paypal, after all. Yep, he sure was screwed.

Unsurprisingly, Hogan was a little cheesed at the universe and its identity pirates by the end of his piece:

“[…] I’m also upset that this ecosystem that I’ve placed so much of my trust in has let me down so thoroughly. I’m angry that Amazon makes it so remarkably easy to allow someone into your account, which has obvious financial consequences. And then there’s Apple. I bought into the Apple account system originally to buy songs at 99 cents a pop, and over the years that same ID has evolved into a single point of entry that controls my phones, tablets, computers and data-driven life. With this AppleID, someone can make thousands of dollars of purchases in an instant, or do damage at a cost that you can’t put a price on.”

This breach brings to light a reality that’s unsettling to think about: a select number of IP addresses, multi-nationals and government databases have the keys to your life. That’s a rather crude analogy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

As we expand our online footprint more and more, there are ever-more points of disclosure for personal data where our information is recorded. On this end is always a perpetual battlefront. The NSA is even looking for hackers to protect the USA.

But do the hackers, the ones living on the Internet and driven to crack sophisticated defences, hold all the power? Anonymous was not playing around when its legion destabilized The Church of Scientology, or the record industry. But now with some key players behind bars or close, more recent fizzles may be indicitave of an Internet beyond the control of a legion of anons.

But that’s impossible to for see, for now.

Until next week, here are some words from Ben Elton, comedian. Sadly they aren’t funny:

“The Internet was supposed to liberate knowledge, but in fact it buried it, first under a vast sewer of ignorance, laziness, bigotry, superstition and filth and then beneath the cloak of political surveillance. Now…cyberspace exists exclusively to promote commerce, gossip and pornography. And of course to hunt down sedition.”
—Blind Faith (2007)

Bitted and spaced,

Andrew Brennan
Assistant News Editor

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