Gawker hack is bad news for us all

Hacking now the No. 1 geek leisure activity, judging by attack on online snark empire -- and users are caught in the cross-fire

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There's a lot of quiet chuckling going on across the Webbernets today. Gawker, which apparently aspires to be the National Enquirer of Web publishing, seems willing to do virtually anything to generate Web traffic, including pay $5,000 for purloined iPhone prototype and an unknown amount for a sleazy account of a one-night stand with a would-be U.S. Senator. And that's just the very short list of Gawker media crimes. They're not the most sympathetic victims.

Their readers are a different story. They certainly didn't deserve this, and what may follow could be far worse than the original attack. This list of hacked logons includes dozens of members with U.S. government email addresses, such as folks at the FDA, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NASA, National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Congress, several state governments, and the Department of Homeland Security, to name but a few.

If these folks, like many people, use the same logons and passwords across the Internet, whoever downloads this information could have the keys to the proverbial kingdom. One hopes they're all paying attention to this scandal and know enough to change any passwords that match the ones they used on Gawker. I don't expect we've heard the last of this by a long shot.

On the other hand, this whole hacking scandal could just be another brilliant Gawker ploy to get traffic. They might have even paid Gnosis to do it. Given how Gawker has operated in the past, it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility. In which case all I can say is, way to go Nick!

The bigger point: It seems lately that hacking has become the geek leisure activity of choice. That's not good news for any of us.

Ever had your logon lifted? Vent your spleen below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com. I'll do my best to ensure that your address isn't hacked.

This article, "Gawker hack is bad news for us all," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringeley's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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