Several Sites Breached in Recent Months
The latest cyber attack hit the online note-taking and archiving site Evernote, which notified its 50 million users last weekend it had been breached. The company required all users to change their passwords as a precaution, after telling them it had "discovered and blocked suspicious activity" on its network. If this story seems familiar, it is. In fact, just since the start of this year hackers have hit Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Apple. "I'm afraid this problem really is only going to get worse," says Christopher Bronk, Information Technology expert from Rice University. He tells KTRH that hackers are getting more sophisticated in targeting sites like Evernote that store information on remote servers, or "in the cloud." "Different cloud services when they're targeted it's not always easy to understand exactly what has been compromised, but these obviously represent significant targets for malicious hackers."
Bronk recommends that consumers start to be more cautious about how and where they store information online. "Think about every word document you've written in the past year if you put it into a folder out there in the cloud, all of that would be visible," he explains. "So you may want to think very, very hard about using a third-party service to put your work product out." Likewise, Bronk thinks employers should also be careful when using third-party services to store employee data. While hackers may not be able to get access to the actual stored content, in many cases they will use usernames and passwords to send phony e-mails that trick users into going to a malicious website that can compromise their computer or their personal information.
The bottom line, says Bronk, is for online consumers to stay vigilant in guarding their data in the age of hyper-information sharing. "Convenience is nice, but there can be a hidden cost in having convenience and being able to access everything you produce or work on anywhere to any device you use anytime." While online services continue beefing up their security and firewalls to try and stay ahead of the hackers, the users of those sites also need to do their part. "We're very good at security systems for our houses and our cars," says Bronk. "We know how to take care of our possessions, but now we have to think much harder about securing our digital possessions."
Check out Chris Bronk's recent editorial on cyber security legislation here.