I recently moved to Washington, DC for the summer. Before I even arrived to the city, I was on the phone giving out my personal information to the company I’m renting my apartment from, the people who provide internet, the electricity dudes, the moving company, yada, yada yada. Name, phone number, occupation, address, permanent address, credit card number, even my social. On top of that, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, all my saved passwords on my laptop, my info on my iPhone, and more yada yada yada. I’m quite a careful person when it comes to this stuff, but I feel uncomfortable… And I have reason to be.
Last week, LinkedIn, the professional social network, was hacked. Over six million accounts were accessed and passwords were stolen. The passwords were very lightly encrypted and actually stored in the databases as simple text files. Once retrieved, millions of passwords were casually posted on a Russian blog.
According to NYT article on the matter, companies are constantly being attacked, sometimes successfully – large companies such as Lastfm.com, eHarmony, and others, have all been jeopardized. The surprising thing in this case was how poor LinkedIn’s password protection services were. Experts say that LinkedIn would be given a letter grade “D” for it’s security, which is absolutely appalling. Being one of the biggest social networks, such carelessness is unacceptable.
Hackers can create codes that scan up to a million password combinations a second. It is up to the companies to hire the right kind of security and keep their users feeling safe, cyber-ly safe, that is. One of the worst things about such a situation, especially with this kind of a website, is how helpless users are. For the most part, everyone remains quite, simply changes a password, and continues to keep a lot of their personal and professional information for the public to see.
If you’re hearing this news for the first time, and you have a LinkedIn account, just go ahead, change your password, and feel a little safer until the next attack comes along. In my case, and I’m sure in almost all your cases, LinkedIn is one of dozens of websites where I have an account… I can’t help but feel helpless and just hope for the best.