Yesterday a group of hackers posted personal information including usernames, passwords and credit card information of 13,000 people on its Twitter account @AnonymousGlobo. The hackers indicated that they had stolen the information from a large number of popular websites that they listed. Among the websites listed by the hackers were Amazon, Walmart, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live and a large number of popular pornography sites including Brazzers. The hackers later wrote “We did it for the Lulz” which is slang for doing it just for their own personal enjoyment and satisfaction. While we do that much personal information was made public and thus putting the victims in danger of identity theft, we do not know if, indeed, the hackers actually did, as they stated, steal the information by hacking into the particular websites they stated or, alternatively, if they used phishing emails to their thousands of victims luring them to click on links in the emails and download keystroke logging malware that provided through which the victims’ own computers supplied the information to the hackers. Either alternative is a source for concern.
There are a number of lessons to be learned from this hacking. One is to never leave your credit card information on file with an online retailer with which you do business for the sake of convenience. It may save you a few seconds the next time you make a purchase with the particular retailer, but it also makes your credit card information vulnerable in the event that the retailer is hacked. A second lesson is to use different usernames and passwords for each of your online accounts because if you do, as many people do, use the same username and password for all of your online accounts, in the event of a data breach at one company with which you do business, the hackers would be able to get your user name and password for all of your accounts, thereby putting you in greater jeopardy of serious identity theft. Finally, it is important never to click on links in emails or text messages unless you are absolutely sure that the communication is legitimate and you have confirmed that fact. Identity thieves are adept at tricking people into clicking on links that contain malware by making the communications look legitimate or even by hijacking the email account of someone you trust.