Time Magazine’s August 29th issue (I know, a little behind on my reading) contains one of Joel Stein’s funniest columns. He isn’t always funny. Sometimes he goes too far – remember the one on placenta? Don’t ask. But when he takes a timely, complicated issue and makes fun of experts he is at his best. This piece is about hackers hacking by exploiting pathetically guessable computer log in passwords. Here’s an excerpt (p. 62): “People who do security for websites believe it’s reasonable for everyone to memorize a different password for each site, change it every few months and make sure it contains Greek letters and in no way relates to our lives or the way humans think. That’s because people who do security for websites are nerds. (While this is surely true, I love nerds.) They memorize the names of Tatooine’s (?) moons for fun. They don’t think how they’re going to feel after their mother dies and every website (they log on to after that) keeps cheerily asking for her maiden name.” Link: Joel’s August 29, 2011 Time Magazine piece The next brilliant piece of cross-promotion is when he discusses the conversation he had with Kevin Mitnick about this topic. Two pages later is a “10 Questions” interview with THE Kevin Mitnick. You have to marvel. Before I read page 62 I had never heard of this gallactic hacker. Now his name has been reinforced by two different magazine pieces. While we’re here, I would like to share two quotes from this apparently famous hacker who served time and is now probably rich (p. 64):
Q: What made you a good hacker was less coding skills and more the social engineering skills. What were they?
A. Social engineering is using deception, manipulation and influence to convince a human who has access to a computer system to do something, like click on an attachment in an email.” One more:
Q. Which of your hacks are you most proud of?
A. I think when I hacked into Pac(ific) Bell Cellular to do traffic analysis on the FBI agents who were tasked with capturing me–not for hacking into Pac Bell but for how I leveraged that information to stay one step ahead of the government.” Geez.
Link: Kevin’s Mitnick August 29, 2011 Time Magazine piece I hope you enjoy Time Magazine as much as I do.