Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A story about how your life can get hacked

Have you ever wondered about what it’s like to be hacked? Investigative journalist Adam Penenberg has too, so he hired a group of hackers to find out how vulnerable he is. The ground rules to this experiment forbade the hackers to do anything unlawful, for instance breaking into Adam’s house, and they also had to leave his children out of it. 

Other than these two conditions, the hackers, led by SpiderLabs founder Nicholas J. Percoco, were allowed any technique to breach Penenberg’s privacy as much as possible.

“It’s my first class of the semester at New York University. I’m discussing the evils of plagiarism and falsifying sources with 11 graduate journalism students when, without warning, my computer freezes. I fruitlessly tap on the keyboard as my laptop takes on a life of its own and reboots. Seconds later the screen flashes a message. To receive the four-digit code I need to unlock it I’ll have to dial a number with a 312 area code. Then my iPhone, set on vibrate and sitting idly on the table, beeps madly.
I’m being hacked — and only have myself to blame.” – extract from Adam L. Penenberg’s article.

Percoco with his team spent a few weeks trying to hack Penenberg and despite some initial difficulties, their efforts were eventually rewarded. Within a relatively short period of time, the attackers gained all the information, including passwords, usernames, credit card details, etc. that would be more than enough to ruin someone’s life.

Facebook profile, Twitter account, Amazon account, online banking, you name it. The hackers gained access to all of them. They even did a little shopping on Amazon and ordered 100 plastic spiders to Penenberg’s house, at his expense of course.

At the end of the experiment Percoco gave a report to Penenberg, which listed their plans, as well as a log of their progress. To see the chilling results, read the full article