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Nowhere Man

by Dan Blum  |  October 1, 2012  |  Submit a Comment

Nowhere Man is not referring to the frequency of posts on this blog recently :-), nor to the Beatles song. I’m recalling a 1990s TV series about a journalist whose life was erased. Imagine (if it happened today) finding none of your credit cards or id cards work, your email’s locked out, your Facebook’s erased and even your wife and friends don’t know you.

Erasing a life may require national intelligence agency level APT capabilities and even for “them” it would hopefully be hard – if, like me, you bought your wife flowers AND an iPhone 5 for her birthday :-)

Unfortunately, erasing all or part of – just – a person’s digital life is much easier and within the capabilities of the common scoundrel. Recall the epic hacking of Mat Honan, a writer for Wired whose Apple and Amazon accounts were exploited, online reputation attacked, and irreplaceable baby pictures deleted along with the rest of his Mac’s hard drive. And you thought the Mac was safe! In his story about it, Mat ruefully wishes he’d used Gmail’s free two factor authentication capability. If you’re reading this and use Gmail, please do that!

However, although two factor authentication in Gmail would have stopped the exploit against Honan, it isn’t enough to stop a competent hacker (or administrative screw up at a personal cloud service) from finding some other attack vector. This a business problem as well as a personal one – the same weak password authentication and account management techniques that left Honan vulnerable could threaten any organization through its users.

As a writer myself the Wired story, like the Nowhere Man show before it, affected me personally. As a result I’ve done some additional things to harden my digital life and I’d like to do more to help friends and clients. In a coming series of blog posts I’m going to write about how account recovery is a weak link and explore what we can do about it, both personally and as businesses.

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Tags: account-recovery  cloud-security  

Dan Blum
Research VP
19 years at Gartner
33 years IT industry

Dan Blum, a VP and distinguished analyst, covers security architecture, cloud-computing security, endpoint security, cybercrime/threat landscape, and other security technologies. Mr. Blum has written hundreds of research… Read Full Bio




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