The perils of modern dependence on internet-linked gadgets and digitally-stored memories is a hot topic in the wake of a hack who wiped clean a Wired reporter’s devices.
Mat Honan has laid out at wired.com in gripping detail how his “digital life was destroyed” right down to irreplaceable photos of his baby daughter. Honan next week is to share his quest to repair the damage.
“The take-away from his bad experience is that people need to be careful with using an online service, especially a backup service,” Lookout Mobile Security engineer Tim Strazzere told AFP on Friday. “The main part is to mitigate risk; he lost a lot of personal information.”
Basic hacker skills were combined with “social engineering,” the art of sweet-talking someone like a customer service rep into bending rules during a phone call, to compromise Honan’s Google, Twitter, and AppleID accounts. Honan told of his @mat Twitter handle apparently being the coveted prize for hackers who deleted his Gmail account and erased the data from his iPhone, iPad and MacBook laptop computer to hide their trail.
The data-wiping feature was created by Apple to let people protect digital information if devices are lost or stolen. He said his Twitter account was used to fire off offensive messages. “In many ways, this was all my fault,” Honan wrote. “My accounts were daisy-chained together.
“But what happened to me exposes vital security flaws in several customer service systems, most notably Apple’s and Amazon’s.” Hackers were able to get bits of information from Apple and Amazon tech support that helped them achieve their mission, according to Honan.
Apple did not respond to an AFP request for comment, but reportedly gave Honan a statement saying his data was “compromised by a person who had acquired personal information about the customer. “In addition, we found that our own internal policies were not followed completely.