The security weekly roundup – 10.25-10.31 Teens in the News

Security is constantly evolving and sometimes it can be a challenge to keep up. But kids nowadays sure do seem to have the stamina to deal with the face-paced environment. In fact, this week showed us that in the world of hacks and cracks, there is no such thing as an age barrier.

15 Year Old Hacks Talk Talk

Talk Talk, the British telecom giant was hacked on Oct 21st for the third time in 12 months. CEO Dido Harding has been criticized by some for seeming unalarmed by the hack in which 4 million customers’ information was breached. Others are questioning why there wasn’t stronger encryption of customer information. Either way, according to the Harding is taking the stance that “This is a sort of cyber security arms race. Criminals are learning how to do things… Do I wish I had done more? Of course I do. But would that have made a difference? If I’m honest I don’t know.”

So just who is the seasoned mastermind behind the attack?

Turns out it’s a 15 year old kid from Northern Ireland.

The teenager has been arrested and is awaiting trial under the Computer Misuse Act of Great Britain. He is currently out on bail and though his name was initially released and printed in some publications, British MP’s are urging the public to respect the boy’s privacy. Understandably, some members of the British Parliament are quite concerned over how a 15 year old could have possibly hacked a large telecom company and what that means for the company, and its nonchalant CEO over-all.

13 Year Old Hacks CIA Director’s Email

Meanwhile, across the pond, the director of the CIA, and pretty much the world’s most powerful spy, John Brennan discovered that his email and Twitter accounts had been hacked (Seriously, what is the director of the CIA tweeting about? The best scrambled egg hacks?). The hack, purportedly pulled of by a 13 year old and an associate whose age was not given, is said to be politically motivated.

This past Monday, the hackers released a spreadsheet including CIA members social security numbers, email addresses, phone numbers and clearance levels. The pair threatened to release even more information on their Twitter account. Twitter has since shut the account down.

Going by the code name Cracka, the hacker told the New York Post in an interview that he used social engineering tactics to infiltrate his way into Brennan’s accounts.

Many questions remain such as who Cracka’s accomplice is and if he really is 13 years old as he claims.

He certainly does seem to have the attitude of a pre-teen though – He told the New York Post, that, in regard to having every agency in the country after him, “Meh, there’s nothing I can do.” and when asked what his friends will think of him as a result of the fanfare “they’ll think I’m a nerd”.

Sounds like your typical teenage computer geek!

11 Year Old Creates Uber-secure Passwords

Before you go and mourn for the future of society, know that some pre-teens are using their tech-savvy to accomplish amazing things.

Ars Technica reported that an 11 year old girl, Mira Modi is a secure-password maven. The native New Yorker has set up her own website where she sells rock-solid passwords for 2 bucks a piece based on the concept of diceware. Diceware is a way to create passwords using an ordinary six-sided die. The numbers rolled at random correlate to letters and then a phrase is constructed from those letters, thus creating completely random, unique passwords that are virtually unbreakable.

In her interview with Ars she said “I think [good passwords are] important. Now we have such good computers, people can hack into anything so much more quickly” She points out society’s willingness to share everything on social media and how simple hacks of those accounts can lead to much more serious attacks on people’s email and bank accounts, with dire results.

Mira sells her passwords on her website and if you order one she will send it to you written on a piece of paper so that there are as few online traces of it as possible.

What will next week bring?

Only time will tell but until then, maybe have a go at creating your own unbreakable passwords with a die or you may find that your emails have been spilled onto Twitter by some pimple-faced teenager.

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