Define Pwn: Pwn is a slang term derived from the verb own, as meaning to appropriate or to conquer to gain ownership. The term implies domination or humiliation of a rival. And when it’s done by hacking email, the person is effectively pwned. No matter how “private” you are on the Internet, no matter how infrequently you post on your Facebook page—even if you don’t have a Facebook account—your life can be hacked into as long as you own just one password—and the ability to be tricked.
Such was the case of Patsy Walsh, reports an article at bits.blogs.nytimes.com. She gave a few white hat hackers permission to try to hack into her life, and they accomplished this in under two hours, without even entering her house. She figured it would be next to impossible because she had no smart gadgets in the home and rarely posted on her Facebook page.
The “ethical” hackers, part of a security start-up, quickly found Walsh’s Facebook page (which presumably contained personal information such as her town, since there’s many “Patsy Walsh” accounts).
The scarcely posted-to account, however, revealed that she had liked a particular webpage. Based on that information, the hackers phished her and she took the bait, giving up a password, which happened to be for many of her accounts.
The good guy hackers were then invited into her home where they easily obtained her garage door opener code with the brute force attack, but even scarier, cracked into her DirecTV service because it didn’t have a password. Such a breach means that the hacker could control the TV remotely: Running a porn movie while the homeowner’s grandmother is visiting.
They also found Walsh’s passwords tacked onto her computer’s router. The exposed passwords allowed them to get into Walsh’s and her daughter’s e-mail accounts. From that point they got ahold of Walsh’s Social Security number, PayPal account, insurance information and power of attorney form.
She was probably thinking, “Well of course! They’re professional hackers and I let them inside!” But the hackers also discovered that there were about 20 malicious programs running on her computer. Their recommendations to Walsh:
- New garage door opener
- Password for DirecTV
- Password manager to create unique passwords for all of her accounts
- Security software always kept updated
- Two-step authentication when offered
- A nice lecture on phishing attacks
ROBERT SICILIANO, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds. His "tell it like it is" style is sought after by major media outlets, executives in the C-Suite of leading corporations, meeting planners, and community leaders to get the straight talk they need to stay safe in a world in which physical and virtual crime is commonplace. Siciliano is accessible, real, professional, and ready to weigh in and comment at a moment's notice on breaking news.
- Hacking Humans is Painfully Easy
Hackers can take over someone’s life in a matter of hours. Just ask Patsy Walsh. Though she is not a tech savvy person, the grandmother of six did have a Facebook account, and that was all the hackers needed to take over her life. By using methods such as click baiting, the act of convincing someone
- Password Security vulnerable to Trickery
There’s only one entrance to the house: a steel door two feet thick. If someone from the outside touched the door—even with a battering ram—they’ll get an electric shock. No bad guys could get through, right? Well, suppose the bad guy tricks the homeowner into opening the door…and once open, the bad guy strangles the homeowner.
- Don’t Be Lazy With Your Passwords
It can be tough being a responsible adult sometimes, and managing these responsibilities isn’t always a chore that I want to deal with. Can you relate? Managing life takes focus and effort, and managing your online life is no different. Most of us are lazy with our online accounts, especially when it comes to our
- The Password Reset Isn’t How to Remember a Password
Consider a keychain for a moment. For most of us, a keychain holds all of our necessities such as home keys, car keys, work keys and even forgotten keys, that we aren’t quite sure what to do with. Now, think about this. What if your keychain had keys that look identical, but each key only
- Popular Passwords make it easy to hack You
Your account passwords should be as unique as your fingerprint—to make them less hackable by crooks using password-guessing software that can run through millions of possible combinations in just minutes. And if you have an easy password, there may be a hit within 10 seconds. Think this software can figure out your password of “password1” or