The Sony Hacks Are Goddamn Terrifying

The Sony Hacks Are Goddamn Terrifying

As more and more details from the Sony Pictures hack seep out into the internet, it's been easy — and to be honest a little fun — to take the voyeur's view. Dumb corporate powerpoints! Passwords in a folder literally called Password! Paul Blart 2 anything! But then you actually look at the full scope of what's out there and holy shit.

Most of the headlines surrounding the Sony documents and emails and slides and scripts have focused on the company itself, or celebrities. Nobody likes Adam Sandler, Tom Hanks calls himself Johnny Madrid at hotels. It's bad, but will be weathered. Tom Hanks can call himself something else tomorrow; Adam Sandler will always have Billy Madison. If that were all that had been exposed, it would be enough to make this one of the worst corporate hacks in history.

But the real reason the Sony hack should keep you up at night isn't because some marketing exec's presentation made you giggle. It isn't because the hackers wanted to kill a Seth Rogen movie. The scariest part of what happened is the collateral damage, the Sony civilians whose entire digital lives have been exposed to the world.

The most painful stuff in the Sony cache is a doctor shopping for Ritalin. It's an email about trying to get pregnant. It's shit-talking coworkers behind their backs, and people's credit card log-ins. It's literally thousands of Social Security numbers laid bare. It's even the harmless, mundane, trivial stuff that makes up any day's email load that suddenly feels ugly and raw out in the open, a digital Babadook brought to life by a scorched earth cyberattack.

These are people who did nothing wrong. They didn't click on phishing links, or use dumb passwords (or even if they did, they didn't cause this). They just showed up. They sent the same banal workplace emails you send every day, some personal, some not, some thoughtful, some dumb. Even if they didn't have the expectation of full privacy, at most they may have assumed that an IT creeper might flip through it, or that it was being crunched in an NSA server somewhere. For better or worse, we've become inured to small, anonymous violations. What happened to Sony Pictures employees, though, is public. And it is total.

You may assume you'd be fine in the same scenario, that you have nothing to hide, that you wouldn't mind. But just take a look through your Sent folder's last month. Last week. Yesterday. There's something in there you wouldn't want the world to see. There's some conversation that would be misread without context, or read correctly for its cloddishness. Our inboxes are increasingly our id, a water cooler with infinitely expandable memory.

If there's any positive outcome from all of this, it's the brute-force reminder that we're all vulnerable in ways we don't even realise. The best we can do — the deeply imperfect solution we're left with — is to be aware of what we say at all times. To assume no private moments, at least not on any screen. Information doesn't have to be incriminating to be embarrassing; it doesn't need intent to be cruel.


Comments

    Nope, i have nothing to hide. You could expose all of my corporate emails / calls / etc and no worries.

    I think that perhaps you Brian have something to hide. As our governments always tell us, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

    Hopefully Sony have enough insurance to facilitate all the employee litigation that will come to pass in time. Otherwise they might be sued out of existence.

      Since you have nothing to hide, what's your real name then wsdk_ii, where do you live, how old are you and what's your Credit Card Number, Expiry and CVV?

        You wouldn't get any of that info if you hacked any work computer I use.

          What about all of the details that HR stores about you on their system?

          It's not just about the stuff that you do on a work computer, it's about EVERYTHING that is stored about you on a work computer.

        Unfortunately someone hacked my account. These are not my real thoughts!

        For those that truly know me, i am pro privacy, and say "fuck you" to the government / agencies wanting to know anything about my private life by creating draconian policies that treat us all as criminals.

    You have work and personal email accounts for a reason. I don't really like to blur the two. My work email is pretty banal. The worst would be a link to a funny pic or page that I sent to my wife (Outlook is already open, easier to send through that). And it's mainly a funny gif of an animal. Nothing too bad.

    Does my work computer log how often I am on Gizmodo and commenting? If yes, then....yeah I got something to hide. I should also be praised mind you for my ability to seem so busy when I spend so much time on this site.

    This hack just re-enforces the point that the governments metadata plans are doomed to failure. Customer data stored on separate networks in different locations with varying security policies in place is a setting for disaster. If Sony can't be trusted to have proper security policies in place, I don't think I can trust any Australian ISP to have security in place to protect our data any more securely that Sony can.

    "These are people who did nothing wrong"

    Not sure I wholly agree with that. There's a good rule I like to live by - if you wouldn't say it to their face, don't email it.

    Seems some folks may be regretting some mails.

    It's not just about work or home computers or networks. It's about the cloud. Ala, the fappening. Google will be hacked soon I fear. Then a billion people's lives become searchable. Sigh

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