Getting hacked is becoming more and more common, especially if you work in media. Gizmodo and Reuters were both hacked on Friday. Thanks to ex-Gizmodo writer Mat Honan, we know what the horror of slowly realizing you've lost control of your entire tech existence feels like.
Gizmodo's Twitter account was hacked last night by a group called Clan VV3. They took over the account, and Honan's personal account, and made racist comments, and criticized Honan for having weak security on his personal accounts.
Honan doesn't work for Gizmodo anymore, but he had their Twitter account linked with his personal one from when he did work for them, and from that the hackers were able to gain access to both accounts. They also hacked Honan's Gmail account, his iCloud account, and wiped his personal Macbook, iPad and iPhone. Honan wrote a pretty terrifying post on his Tumblr about how he came to realize someone had compromised his entire online existence. He was playing with his daughter when his phone automatically reset itself. At first he thought it was just a glitch, so he went to try and restore it with iCloud. Then it hit him:
I entered my iCloud login to restore, and it wasn’t accepted. Again, I was irritated, but not alarmed.
I went to connect it to my computer and restore from that backup—which I had just happened to do the other day. When I opened my laptop, an iCal message popped up telling me that my Gmail account information was wrong. Then the screen went gray, and asked for a four digit pin.
I didn’t have a four digit pin.
By now, I knew something was very, very wrong.
From there, Honan realized that every computer in his arsenal was compromised. Because everything he owns was either in someone else's control, or had been wiped, the numerous failsafes set up for losing your Gmail or Twitter account wouldn't work. He couldn't restore his Gmail because he couldn't use his phone, and Gmail needs to send you a text message to verify that it's really you. He had a terrible time with Apple tech support, but a friend at Twitter suspended his old account. Since then, he's been forced to set up a new one. And he still doesn't have access to his Gmail. The whole ordeal sounds awful. Losing everything, from your Gmail to your Twitter to your phone? We wouldn't wish something like that on our worst enemy. "It’s been a shitty night," Honan says.
Ever the opportunists, Gizmodo did a "how to defend yourself" post this morning using their own experience as a guide.