Only weeks after popular online storage utility Dropbox was breached, and compromising most of their user accounts, another high-profile hack was uncovered. This time, it was tech journalist Mat Honan who had his entire digital profile wiped out in one hour. In one hour, hackers removed his Gmail account and had his AppleID account breached, and subsequently used to wipe out his iPhone, Macbook Pro and iPad. In the process, Honan lost all photos of his one-year old daughter.
And why was his account hacked? The two hackers responsible simply wanted his Twitter handle. Not for his online banking accounts. Not for access to Gizmodo’s Twitter account (which is linked to Honan’s account). Just his unique three-character Twitter account, which they then used to post racist and homophobic messages.
Incredibly, the two hackers gained access to his accounts really, really easily. So easily, in fact, that Wired was able to produce the same hack (if it could be called a hack) just yesterday.
First, the hacker obtained Honan’s mailing address by doing a whois search, which was then used to (in short) obtain the final four digits of his credit card number. This same four digits can then be used to verify and subsequently reset Honan’s AppleID.
Crucially, Honan’s AppleID was linked to his Gmail account, which was then hacked into as well. Needless to say, his Gmail account was removed as well. Interestingly, however, these were all done just so that Honan would not be able to recover his Twitter account.
Remarkably, however, Honan has been able to recover his Twitter account. He has promised to publish another article tomorrow, and we will be sure to keep you readers updated.
This latest hack just about highlights how we can never be too careful about our digital footprint. Honan may have lost more than just priceless memories of his daughter had the hackers been less objective in their targets. In particular, he regrets not activating the two-factor authentication for his Google account (that is similar to online banking), among other minor security steps we all can take.
We particularly encourage readers to head on to the source and read the full article written by Honan himself, as it is very informative and might just sway you into being more aware on online security.