We have only just started the year 2017 and already it is being dominated by stories of hacking. The press is having a field day with it; not just the ‘normal’, but also the ‘fake’ news outlets that we read and even more, believe. If this is any indicator, it is going to be a long year.
While the big parties in the hacking story are not Dutch, some of the thrill happens in the Netherlands: since part of the anonymizing network that played a role in these hacks is located here, our press went all out on it. But what they fail to give attention to, is the fact that those hackers could access all that information easily. Instead they are all crying wolf about ‘hacking servers’ being in the Netherlands.
Of course in this case there were over a thousand servers involved in these hacks – and not just Dutch ones. Since the Dutch Internet infrastructure is fast, good and cheap (yes, it can be done!) it would be more strange if there was NO Dutch based server involved.
But I digress. The issue still is that even though we speak a lot about online security, hackers can access personal data fairly easy, because our safety measures are still not good. Why is that? Because we are not paranoid enough about our security. Or about anything on the Internet, for that matter.
People still use ‘password’ as their password in 2017. They use older, out-dated operating systems without adequate security safeguards (such as privilege separation) to keep them safe. They still click on links in emails, to reset their bank credentials. And all of that is while we all know that those links are fake.
The same goes for the fake news epidemic. People are inclined to believe a story a friend shared on Facebook, even though they think: “Well, that is odd”. And because we read those posts, we get even more of those same posts. It is creating a bubble that makes us feel too comfortable with thoughts that align with our own.
We really need to be more paranoid. Don’t just trust a link that ask for your credentials. Don’t just believe that “Pope Francis shocks the world by endorsing Donald Trump”, because your best friend posted it on his wall. If it feels off, then treat it like it’s off. Be vigilant. Be paranoid.