Amazon and Apple aid and abet digital drive-by

Hackers turned Mat Honan's life upside down last week -- with a big helping hand from the two tech giants

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Honan cops to some culpability in his own demise: He had failed to maintain a local backup of his data, and he'd been perhaps a little too laissez faire in how he had linked all of his accounts -- for example, using the same email prefix for everything. As for all you out there in Cringeville clucking your tongues and saying "tsk tsk," admit it; you've made similar mistakes in your life, at least once.

Honan also notes that had he turned on two-factor authentication for his Gmail account, forcing would-be hackers to enter a PIN sent via text message to Honan's phone, Phobia and pals would have been stopped in their tracks.

I must admit to a grudging admiration for some of the actions of Anonymous and its various offshoots, which combine an arch sense of humor with anticorporate vandalism. In many cases, Anonymous's victims (like HBGary Federal or Sony) kind of had it coming. But this was the hacking equivalent of a drive-by shooting. Honan did nothing to deserve this.

InfoWorld's editorial standards preclude me from employing the terms I would typically use to describe Honan's tormentors, who are probably still in high school and/or living in their parents' basements. Anyone who criticizes them publicly of course puts a big bull's-eye on their back, despite the fact that in executing the Honan hack the "Clan" violated its own rules of conduct. Still, I would derive not a small amount of pleasure watching these juvenile delinquents doing a perp walk on the nightly news. I have to imagine Honan wouldn't mind so much either.

And if you haven't unlinked your accounts, mixed up your email prefixes, and adopted two-factor authentication yet, now might be a good time.

Who's most at fault here: Apple/Amazon, Honan, or the hackers? Post your thoughts below or email me:

This article, "Amazon and Apple aid and abet digital drive-by," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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