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Risk

5/12/2008
12:29 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Hacker Publishes Personal Data Of Six Million Onto Internet

The hacker took the data from several government-run Web sites, then displayed the data for all to see.

The hacker took the data from several government-run Web sites, then displayed the data for all to see.According to this news story, a (so far) anonymous hacker was able to somehow mine data pertaining to about six million Chileans. The data included full names, street address, e-mail, telephone numbers, social and educational backgrounds. The data allegedly was pilfered from each of the following government Web sites: Education Ministry, Electoral Service, and state-run telephone companies.

The Web sites allegedly were infiltrated over the weekend.

The hacker then posted the information on IT Web site "FayerWayer" and a community Web site called "ElAntro."

The El Mercurio story quoted the hacker's reasoning for the breach and subsequent publishing of the private data:

"for the whole world to see ... (to) show how unprotected personal data is in Chile ... nobody bothers protecting that information."

I'm sure the hacker is right. No one pays attention, more than lip service, to Web site security until they're hacked. But is this the best way to bring attention to the problem?

The data was posted for several hours before authorities managed to bring it down. "It's a serious matter and we're investigating," Police Cybercrime Brigade chief Jaime Jara told the newspaper.

It certainly is a serious matter, but the question remains who are the authorities going to investigate and incarcerate? The hacker who brought the shoddy Web security to the world's attention, or those responsible at a handful of state-run sites that should have known enough to keep this sort of information relatively secure?

I'm not so sure, and I'm leaning toward the only obvious answer, at least for me -- and that's both the hacker and the responsible government agencies should be prosecuted.

What do you think?

 

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