'Widespread mayhem' net's new norm

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 July, 2011, 12:00am


The grubby allegations of phone hacking by journalists at Rupert Murdoch's top-selling British Sunday tabloid are pretty outrageous. So outrageous, even the man who owns the paper has called them deplorable and closed it down.

Are we shocked? Yes. Surprised? Not really. Let's face it, hacking in its many forms has become all too common.

US President Barack Obama was assassinated on July 4, according to the perversely hacked Twitter account of Fox News. The websites of the International Monetary Fund, the US Defence Department, Sony, SEGA and Citigroup have all been breached in recent weeks, by groups never heard of before, such as Lulz and Anonymous.

No one, nor any organisation is safe.

The risk of exposure to hacking is no longer restricted to those who surf in the dark, seedy corners of the World Wide Web. Hackers are getting so sophisticated that Facebook is no longer safe. Neither are our iPhones and iPads, thanks to security flaws in Apple's operating system.

It's not implausible to think that someone is trying to steal your banking passwords and other personal information this very minute.

In its quarterly report this week, Spain-based Panda Security said hackers such as Lulz and Anonymous had caused 'widespread mayhem' during the past three months and that malicious software had 'spread substantially'.

It said China had the greatest infection rate, with 61 per cent of its computers tainted with malware. The United States and much of Europe was ranked near the global average of almost 40 per cent.

In a networked world, our personal lives are only a malicious piece of code away from becoming public.