Nineteen year old Austin Alcala recently became the fourth member of an international hacking ring to plead guilty to hacking into the computer networks of a number of videogame developers including Microsoft Corporation, Epic, Games Inc., Valve Corporation and Zombie studios. In the course of the hacking of these companies, the hackers stole information and intellectual property valued at one-hundred million dollars including software source codes, trade secrets and other information regarding the Microsoft Xbox Live online gaming system and popular games including FIFA, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Gears of War 3. Sentencing is scheduled for July 29th.
It should come as no surprise that nineteen year olds without the resources of state governments and large companies have sufficient computer power to hack into the biggest companies in the world. This case is just another example of the fact that all of us and the companies with which we do business have got to do a better job of protecting the security of important information. As individuals, there is little we can do to compel companies and government agencies to better protect the data they hold, however, for ourselves, there are many things including the use of strong passwords, encryption programs and security software that is constantly updated to enhance our security. In addition, the avoiding of clicking on links in emails and text messages unless you are absolutely sure that is legitimate is a good way to avoid becoming a victim of phishing.