The day I got a call from the campus police saying that my library logon password had appeared for sale on a Web site in China was the day I realized how tenuous security measures can be: Forces are at work far beyond my little world of “password must have uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols.” I don’t know what the university where I worked did to mitigate the situation on a big scale (if they did anything at all), but on a smaller scale they simply issued me a new password and away I toddled.
Fast forward to Wednesday of this week and as I tried to access my Comcast email account, I kept getting a strange screen. I wondered if hackers had broken in, so I logged off. I tried to remember if I had anything revealing or halfway financially interesting in my email folders, and realized that I just had some photos and lots of unpublished short stories. Whoopie doo. But I was pissed off, and not for the first time, at Comcast, and equally annoyed at whomever had done the deed.
Thursday, various news outlets offered garbled and half-garbled articles about what had occurred and the possible reasons for such an attack. Some well-meaning sites even had the nerve, in the blame-the-victim mode shallow journalists often use, to put the onus back onto Comcast users, admonishing us to carefully guard our passwords to our email, as if we had caused the problem. (And some techie commenters also blamed the victims by chastising us for using Comcast for Internet access and for email. Harsh.)
Later, Wired provided an interview with the guys who’d done the attack, http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/05/comcast-hijacke.html one volunteering that he wished he were still 18 so he wouldn’t be tried as an adult. It was surreal to read. If I passed these dudes on the street in my small city, I would have thought “losers.”
Cnet reports now that they’re awaiting arrest. What a waste of human effort, even for a bunch of losers. http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9956165-7.html
But it wasn’t all for naught. They’ve finally lit a fire under me to do what I should have done months ago: switch to Google’s Gmail. It’s a small-scale solution but it’s all I’ve got.