The hackers now had access to Honan's Amazon account, and access to all the credit cards on file -- just the last four digits of each card, mind you, but all Apple tech support requires is a billing address and those last four numbers. With that information, they had his Apple account, which they used to brick his devices and burn his digital life to the ground.
The best and/or saddest part is that Honan himself was targeted for absolutely no reason. The hackers had no idea who he was -- they just liked his Twitter handle and wanted to use it to troll for a while. They went through that whole complicated process and fucked his life over just so he wouldn't be able to log back in to Twitter and disrupt their hijinks.
Wait, when did hackers become such pussies that Twitter accounts became desirable targets?
But don't worry -- unless you have a Google account, an Amazon account and an Apple account, you're totally safe from something like this ever happening to you.
Stuxnet Breaks Iran's Nuclear Plants
As we mentioned in the first entry, it turns out that real-life hackers can do the "run a virus that makes the enemy's shit explode" trick that we thought was Hollywood bullshit. So how do you top a virus that turns gas pipelines into giant smoking craters? How about crippling a country's nuclear capability?
In June 2010, a virus called Stuxnet was found lying dormant in the networks of factories, power plants and traffic control systems worldwide. Stuxnet had the disquieting ability to disable major energy networks (like switch off an oil pipeline or cripple a nuclear reactor) without alerting the operators, but in every system where it was found, the virus wouldn't do a single thing. It just kind of sat there, possibly collecting disability. As it turns out, Stuxnet was waiting.
"Don't mind me. Just come closer so I can see you better."
Viruses, in general, tend to be indiscriminate. They just burst through the door like a werewolf and start destroying things. Stuxnet was different. It had a specific target -- in this case, the centrifuges in Iran's main uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. Its destructive programming would only activate under certain conditions, which could only be met while in Natanz. Once those conditions were met, Stuxnet would take complete control of the system.
So, what, it freezes up their computers? Maybe displays a little animated skull to let them know they'd been hit?
"Damn it! Why do you always have to attack my tiny, tiny laptop?!"
Hardly. The plant needs thousands of spinning centrifuges as part of the uranium enrichment process. Stuxnet was programmed to take over the machines and make them spin themselves to pieces.
A thousand of these centrifuges were deactivated by Iran in short order just around the time Stuxnet was believed to have been most active, accounting for 30 percent of the Natanz facility's uranium enrichment ability. Iran did not admit to Stuxnet's involvement, but did state that the virus' presence in a separate nuclear facility still under construction prevented them from turning on the reactors there for fear of causing a nationwide blackout.
A blackout caused by hacking.
Danny is a freelance writer. Feel free to badger him with love, work or hate at his Twitter, blog or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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