The New Computer Hacking Game

Posted by Keith McMillan

February 3, 2009 | 1 Comment

Perhaps I’m just getting to be an old timer. When I started managing computer systems for the telephone company in the late 1980s, the game was to break into systems primarily to learn something.  Occasionally there were malicious attempts to access information, such as the phreak’s setting themselves up with free phone service, but for the most part, the damage to society at large was fairly limited.

Late in January, we learned about a security breach at Heartland Payment Systems.  According to coverage at Computerworld, it seems the attackers placed some sort of malware into the Heartland network, and were able to capture an undisclosed number of credit card transactions, primarily from smaller businesses such as gas stations and convenience stores.  Heartland isn’t saying how many accounts were compromised, but they process about 100,000,000 transactions per month, and they were apparently notified by the card companies of a possible problem last October, and well you do the math.

People breaking into computer systems these days aren’t doing it for fun, or to learn how things work, or at least they’re not the only ones breaking in.  The naive period of hacking adolescence has passed.  We’re not looking around in empty houses under construction, we’re breaking into occupied houses and robbing them while the owners are there.

Computer security is serious business, and business has given it very little attention.  To make matters worse, the public really doesn’t seem to care either.  TJX has a massive security breach: what happens to the stock? It goes up.

Until consumers start caring about how much money lax security is costing them, there will be no change.  Since consumers aren’t showing any inclinations to care, the only hope for us is making a criminal negligence complaint against businesses that take absolutely no care of our identities.


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1 Comment »

2009-03-17 18:18:52

[…] The New Computer Hacking Game […]

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