Home Opinion and Features Datanappers, passwords and the new frontier of crime

Datanappers, passwords and the new frontier of crime


It’s a real mission and on several occasions I have simply given up and decided it’s not worth the hassle


Ever since the news broke that Liberty’s computer system had been hacked and clients’ “personal data” had been stolen I have been receiving regular SMS messages assuring me that everything is under control and advising me to take extra precautions to protect my own data.

I am intrigued by the whole thing and wonder whether this is a brand new form of kidnapping. As I understand it (and I may be wrong), the hackers broke into the Liberty computer system and took out a whole lot of “sensitive data” relating to customers.

They then sent a message to the company saying something like: “Unless you pay us a huge whack of money we will release the information to the public.”

This is a crime worthy of the attention of a Sherlock Holmes or a Hercule Poirot. Unlike a human kidnapping, you don’t need a secret basement or an abandoned farmhouse in which to imprison your victim while you wait for the ransom to be paid.

You might even be able to carry it around in your pocket on a memory stick.

Like a conventional kidnapping, however, the tricky part is always the handing over of the victim in exchange for the ransom money.

This is the crucial point at which victim and perpetrator have to come into range of each other. In this case even that has special complications.

Even if you do hand over the memory stick containing all that sensitive data, how can victims be sure the datanappers haven’t made a copy?

I watch developments with great interest. In the meantime I don’t see the point of changing my password every few days. I can’t even remember my existing passwords.

Every time I forget a password I have to send an e-mail requesting a new one, which is then sent to me by SMS on my phone.

It’s a real mission and on several occasions I have simply given up and decided it’s not worth the hassle.

Keep your stupid password! If your message is so important call me on the phone or send a letter. Remember letters?

Paper things with ink marks on them.

Believe it or not, they still work, don’t require passwords and never run out of airtime.

Besides, I don’t believe there is any data in all my various apps and blogs and Twitface messages that is of any interest at all to anybody else. If I did have any secrets I certainly wouldn’t share them with a computer.

If a huge organisation like Liberty can be hacked by nappers, what hope would I have of keeping the baddies out of my puny little stash of data?

I bet Liberty Life had a pretty impressive password. And they probably changed it several times a day.

Last Laugh

After yet another horrifying school shooting incident in America there was a storm of correspondence in newspapers and on the internet, mostly from people condemning America’s lax gun laws. One correspondent from Australia wrote simply: “Thank goodness we got the convicts and you guys got the Puritans.”