Two security researchers at Google Australia headquarters recently discovered that they could easily hack the building’s management system. And while this regulated hack was done in a controlled environment, we can only guess what could have happened if the building’s security codes had fallen into the wrong hands.
In Google Australia’s case, their management system was built on a platform known as Tridium Niagara AX that’s been known to have serious security issues. The holes in the system allowed the security researchers to get the administrative password, which happened to be “anyonesguess” (Well, it appears that one good place to start in beefing up security would be picking a better password).
Instances of online hacking have been entering the spotlight with each successful code crack. From the Twitter accounts of news wires to the infamous Anonymous group shutting down entire government websites, to even Chinese hackers, we live in a cyber-age where everything is wired into the internet, and this provides both our greatest strength and most pliant vulnerability.
Last year, students at MIT were able to hack the school’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Department in order to play what turned out to be a harmless game of Tetris. Other hackers at other universities have engaged in similar pranks. On the more serious side of the spectrum, a German security consultant made claims that with just using an Android mobile phone, he has the ability to hijack an entire plane. And while his claims were brushed aside due to technological differences between the phone and airplane hardware, a future where a malevolent hacker possibly learns the ropes in manipulating that technology is still a possibility.
Either way, these examples show that the ease and frequency with which we are hearing about new hacking cases says a lot on the nature of our computer safety, as well as the rebirth of phenomena such as “hacktivism.”
Today we read about pranks from IT students and wayward hacks on Twitter, and articles on how security holes were found just in time. But one day we might reach a scenariowhere perhaps, terrorist hackers make us wish that we weren't too late.