Commentary

You’ve Been Hacked!

While on Facebook yesterday, a Facebook friend sent me an invitation to attend a Cyber Security Seminar in April. It’s a couple of hours long and is being given by the New College Institute.

Over ten years ago I was sitting at a production computer connected to our network when suddenly it started processing what looked like to me various credit card transactions of different amounts, names, and addresses. My efforts to stop it were unsuccessful and after a few minutes I did what should have been me first response, I pulled the connection to the internet. Before I could get to the rest of the computers on the network, another machine had been hijacked and was performing automated financial transactions as well.

I called one of my detective buddies and we talked about it. He didn’t know anything about my Cyber Attack, but he would make a note of it. It didn’t take much “google searching” to find what had happened. A piece of software we were using that allowed us to access one computer from another had a vulnerability that hackers were exploiting. In all likelihood, they were attempting to use our computers on our network to conduct their illegal activity. Pretty scary stuff for a guy who learned the radio business with a razor blade, and reel-to-reel tape.

The fix was simple. We upgraded the software and the vulnerability was gone. With some common practice techniques of securing our network, nothing like that has ever happened again. However, I’m sure if Putin and Russia became the least bit interested in us the way they did the U.S. and the election of Trump, our meager security would be compromised in a minute.

Data Selfie – Chrome extension from DATA X on Vimeo.

I watched the documentary about Eric Snowden. I mention this not to delve into the issues he presented by doing what he did, but to tell you that his explanation of how people are being hacked by the monitoring of their own online habits has been a real mind opener for me. Every site you go on, every click you make online, every word you read and every character you type is at the least at risk of being monitored and analyzed for marketing purposes.

Do you wonder what your digital fingerprint looks like? What if you could hack your own data in a similar way and have it analyzed through algorithms produced by IBM Watson and the University of Cambridge? Well, now you can.

Enter… Data Selfie, a real chrome browser extension that does roughly the same thing they do. It tracks every click you make and stores it locally. After using it awhile, you can generate a report on yourself and see what others make of your online activity. It is able to project your political leanings, emotional state, and habits. Believe me, if you think you can hide your thoughts, think again. You express your thoughts constantly in the decisions you make and when those decisions show up as clicks on a computer, the powerful analytical tools in use today can figure it out and it doesn’t take long either.

    

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *