5 Important Things That Are Scarily Easy To Break Into
Cybersecurity has become a big deal. We keep so much of our precious information -- like credit card details, family pictures, and amateur pornography -- in places hackers can easily gain access to, which sometimes makes us forget that security in real life is rather shitty too. Most of the most seemingly impenetrable places in the world are protected by nothing more than a few locks and some dude who failed his police entrance exam. So while we fret about the cloud and our emails, randos keep waltzing into "secure" areas using all the criminal guile of blind toddlers on an Easter egg hunt.
Anything With A Lock (Including Your Home) Can Be Broken Into With A Cellphone
People's online passwords get hacked all of the time. It's as easy as 1-2-3 (because a shocking amount of email passwords begin with those numbers). That's why we prefer to keep our true valuables behind a real lock. You can't make a key by guessing someone's maiden name and the name of their first cat. But these days, for someone to break into your car, your house, or anything you own with a lock on it, all they need is a smartphone and a well-meaning but ill-advised app.
"No two-step verification on these suckers."
Today, it is totally possible to create a 3D replica of a key based on nothing but a random photo taken from pretty much anywhere. Leave your keys on a bar for a second -- or, even worse, wear them on your belt -- and it's all over. "If you lose sight of your keys for the better part of 20 seconds, you should consider them lost," says security consultant Joss Weyers. But even if you almost never let your keys see the light of day, that's still not enough to stop thieves. All an intruder needs to do is take a photo of the keyhole and then use it to print or order a "bump key" -- a tool specifically used for the picking of locks. With a bump key, all the burglar has to do is put it in the lock and whack the back of it with a hammer to shock the pins into submission.
If that sounds too difficult, don't worry! Entrepreneurial app designers have striven to make this technology available to absolutely anyone, from your mom to that crazy ex of yours who recently got out on bail. Apps like KeyMe or KeysDuplicated are designed as a virtual backup for your physical passwords -- what old folks would call "keys." You take a snapshot of your key and the cloud saves a digital version of it forever. Then you can print out a replica of said key using a 3D printer or have a replacement shipped right to your house the next time you drunkenly flush your car keys down the toilet.
"Shit, my house key was on the ring ..."
These apps claim that they have several parameters in place that make them theft-proof. For instance, KeyMe requires several identification steps to be completed before they'll issue a replacement, the idea being that any burglar who uses the service will have created an extremely traceable paper trail (which sort of requires every victim of a burglary to be aware that KeyMe is a service that both exists and can be searched for such information). However, one Wired journalist managed to break into his friend's apartment with a quick snapshot of their key. He uploaded the picture into the app's cloud (because a cloud is super secure, of course), and within the hour, he had a new key 3D-printed at one of KeyMe's physical kiosks. But hey, at least these entrepreneurs were able to get their apps selling a service that literally no law-abiding citizen has ever needed up and running.
"Free Coffee on Felony Friday!"
People Crash The Oscars All. The. Time.
The Academy Awards, the single biggest gathering of the world's most attractive people and Quentin Tarantino, is bound to attract a lot of attention. This is also why it is the single most protected event in all of Hollywood, if not America. Consequently, sneaking into the Oscars seems like it would require Danny Ocean and some Mission: Impossible techno-magic masks. But the truth is most of the people who conned their way onto the red carpet sort of showed up and pretended they belonged there.
That would explain some things ...
Some carried fake passes, while others assured security that they did have tickets but had merely forgotten them, and one couple up and waltzed past a barrier. However, Dee Thompson's balls were particularly steely. After sneaking into the 69th Academy Awards, Thompson wrote a "faith-based book" about his experience, claiming that he had prayed to be able to attend the awards and God made it His divine will for him to stand in the same room as Kate Winslet. He neglected to ask for a similar blessing of his writing talents, as his "book" amounted to little more than a flimsy pamphlet padded with the Oscars program.
"And Other Tales I Tell At The Bar."
The incompetence of the security became so embarrassing that in 2009, a crasher made a documentary about his experience and then allowed Oscars security guards to view his film to better learn how to protect the place. The next year, 19 people were arrested for faking their way into the event, which confirms that there is at least one documentary the Academy has watched in its entirety.
Hospital Records Are Incredibly Easy To Steal
We've all had embarrassing medical events, whether it be an unfortunate chlamydia scare or having the hat of a garden gnome removed from an unnamed body cavity. Luckily, our dignity is left intact by the nigh-unbreakable bond of doctor-patient confidentiality. So naturally, with the promise of medical secrecy, you'd think that our records must be under equally heavy lock and key. But you'd be wrong.
"Look, if you just tell me how it got stuck there, I swear no one will ever know."
Over the past five years, approximately 29.3 million patients' records have been compromised in HIPAA data hacks, which target healthcare providers along with hospitals themselves. Ultimately, over the course of 15 months, the healthcare industry averaged one major breach each month. Why is it such a target, you ask (probably)? Because medical files are the most valuable pieces of information on the black market. According to the Ponemon Institute, "stolen patient health records can fetch as much as $363 per record." That's more than a barrel of stolen credit card information would get you. What makes personal health records so lucrative? Well, they provide ready access to a person's Social Security and payment information. Add to that physically identifying factors and family history, and you've got yourself a tasty identity theft stew going.
Then all you need is some sweet hacker gloves.
You would be right to assume a lot of this theft takes place in the virtual realm, but plenty of people have had the genius idea to walk right into actual hospital buildings and steal information. When two violent patients escaped a mental health institute, investigators discovered missing master keys, broken windows and a whole bunch of employees who seemed to spend more time thinking about lunch than proper security protocols. This terrifying lack of oversight extends itself to your private data. Many hospitals leave their private computers logged in and open for easy access. Even worse, in a dangerously misguided attempt to promote efficiency, multiple hospitals were found to have passwords written on doors and sticky notes plastered to computers. Although we understand they believed no normal human being would ever have been able to read a bunch of doctors' handwriting, this safeguard proved to be ineffective.
Luckily, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center found a way around all these hacks: pen and paper. After suffering an attack that ransomed all of their data, the hospital continued to treat patients by keeping records the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, temporarily removing the potential for further virtual attacks. This was a fine work-around, but let's hope they don't continue down the path of retrospective medicine.
"I'm gonna write you a prescription for cocaine. We're going back to that."
The Army Is Regularly Infiltrated By Active Gang Members And White Supremacists, And Military Bases Get Their Stuff Stolen Constantly
We tend to think of the Army as a place of discipline -- America's frontline defense made up of the nation's finest. Part of the recruitment process requires you to pass a criminal background check, for obvious reasons. Nobody wants a convicted arsonist watching their backs in the middle of a firefight. However, as of 2011, gang members affiliated with 53 different gangs had been able to sign up.
Seen here throwing the sign of the Western Capitalists.
While most of these people treat their military careers seriously and respectfully, some use the experience to expand the reach of their gang, using their frequent traveling stints as a means to smuggle guns and drugs. Many of these soldiers later take their highly specific weapons training to the streets, using their skills against police officers and teaching their fellow gang members how to fight like America's best. Some of the smarter gangs even recommend that recruits who haven't done any prison time go join the army for the weapons and combat experience, sort of like vocational training for street crime.
After all, if you can handle this, you can probably handle the South Side.
White supremacist groups have also been getting in on the action, using their training to take to the streets with guns and camouflage after the murder of Trayvon Martin in an attempt to discourage the "retaliations" they were sure would happen. They also sent ex-Army members dressed like soldiers to patrol the Mexican border, because if you're going to impersonate a soldier, you might as well be racist while doing it.
Meanwhile, military bases are so bad at keeping track of their stuff that any random joe could potentially swipe a full stash of devastating weaponry. Weapon thievery is such an issue that the military has had to contend with missing pistols, rifles, shotguns, and even freaking tanks. In 1995, a deranged man named Shawn Nelson commandeered a tank and rampaged through town, running down utility poles and cars before ultimately being shot by a terrified and confused police force. The army was planning to send someone after Nelson, but they couldn't seem to remember where they'd parked their other tanks.
"We thought the 'Property of U.S. Army -- Do Not Steal' sign was enough."
You Can Walk A Bomb Right Into Federal Buildings In America
So hospitals and the military are not safe. Neither is Hollywood or your very own home. Surely there must be some place that stands alone as the last bastion of privacy and security. Federal buildings, perhaps? If any places remain protected, those would have to be it, right?
Turns out, not so much. In 2009, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) sting revealed how incredibly easy it was to smuggle homemade bombs past a protective service that provides security for 9,000 federal buildings. Most depressingly, it often wasn't a case of outdated technology or even clever criminal tactics, but rather good old-fashioned worker incompetence. In many instances, the smugglers simply walked right into the building with the necessary supplies to build an entire goddamn bomb because security personnel weren't paying attention to their x-ray screens.
"Look, we have time for bombs or dongs, not both."
Unfortunately, these sobering results didn't do much to inspire tighter security protocols. Two years later, a bomb was carried into a federal building by an on-duty security guard, who discovered a suspicious package outside and brought it in to the lost and found. The bomb sat there next to forgotten umbrellas and sunglasses for three fucking weeks before someone decided to x-ray the abandoned package. The guard was understandably suspended and the building's security was retrained in the art of observation. Hopefully, they now possess the necessary skills to call an adult no more than a week after the next attempted bombing of a federal building.
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