Hackathon Season is Upon Us

The use of the term hacker used to be derogatory, conjuring up images of someone cackling like a Witch, hunched over a computer as they steal some poor unsuspecting fool’s bank details. This is changing though, and the present use of the word is much broader and less critical.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about Aaron Swartz, and many see him as “a hacker for good”. He was greatly revered and respected in the Internet world and considered a programming genius by many.

Also today many Internet companies offer prizes to hackers who can break their security systems, so that they can then repair the weaknesses, all done more or less in secrecy obviously.

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Kill the Password

This week I would like to draw readers’ attention to an article that appeared in Wired at the end of last year. Written by Mat Honan and entitled Kill the Password: Why a String of Characters Can’t Protect Us Anymore, it makes for really interesting and alarming reading.

The author starts by explaining that he lost all of his digital life last year as his accounts were hacked, an event that lead him into investigating online security and how it is breached.

What he discovered is not for the faint hearted. The linking together of different accounts using an email as username means that any seriously interested party with a little time on their hands and very little money can relatively easily get into a single account, and from there into the others.

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