Yahoo, Sony, and Home Depot have more than one thing in common. They’ve all been hacked, after they all made a very important decision.
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of Yahoo’s hack. Most every news source is covering it. It is big news after all. Sadly, if you’re reading headlines, you might think that this is just a repeat of old news. But it’s not. It’s much worse. In September, Yahoo disclosed that an astounding 500 million user accounts had been hacked in 2014. That is a scary number, made less scary by the news that came Wednesday. This news was a disclosure that more than 1 billion user accounts had been hacked in a different 2013 hack. User’s names, telephone numbers, dates of birth, encrypted passwords, and unencrypted security questions, were all exposed to hackers.
Prior to these hacks, Yahoo became a topic of conversation when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer chose to drop BlackBerry as their corporate phone. Instead, she offered Yahoo employees iPhones, android phones, and even a Windows phone. This occurred late in 2012. just a short time before their hack of more than a billion user’s personal information.
In 2014, Home Depot became the victim of a high profile hack. This hack went down in infamy as the largest retail credit card breach on record. More than 56 million customer credit card accounts were compromised, as well as around 53 million customer email addresses.
Oddly enough, just the year before, in 2013 Home Depot announced that they were dropping BlackBerry for the iPhone.
Repercussions from the Sony Hack is still being felt today. In the midst of threats from North Korea over the imminent release of the Seth Rogen and James Franco film The Interview, Sony was completely crippled by a cyber attack. Their computer system was taken down, movie’s were leaked, internal documents were exposed, as well as employee’s salaries, Social Security numbers and health information.
Now, I don’t know when Sony stopped using BlackBerry. But we know they did. We know they did because once the hack was occurring, and they had lost access to their own phones and computers, they were forced to bring their old BlackBerry phones out of storage and use them to communicate securely.
Can we assume that these companies leaving BlackBerry resulted in their later hacks? Of course not. That would be a logical fallacy. In fact, it’s much more likely that these hacks had absolutely nothing to do with their phones in the first place.
But the potential is there.
We know how people utilize their phones. We can easily see employees sending other employees logins and passwords and the like, with that information being stolen off of unsecure phones. But even this seems far fetched, and I doubt we would ever know if this was indeed the case.
There are some items that we can take away from these stories though. First, all of three these companies have been blamed for being to lackadaisical in their security efforts. From either not being proactive enough in their effort, to simply not showing anything beyond a minimal effort, to Yahoo’s case, where it seemed their security engineers were at odds with management over what should be done to protect users.
With their devil-may-care attitude about security, is it really any wonder that these companies were so quick to drop BlackBerry for the iPhones and the androids of the day? These companies dropping the only secure phone for something “fun” was probably not a cause for the hacks, but it was surely a symptom of that cause. That cause was these companies not taking security seriously, and it was their customers and clients that suffered for it. We know that had these companies actually prioritized security, they’d still be on BlackBerry and these hacks probably would not have happened.
There is one other thing that we can be absolutely sure of. The one thing that we can take away from these incidents with absolute certainty. In each of these stories, BlackBerry devices were not hacked.
You really must wonder though, three major media grabbing hacks, all occurring a year after the companies have left BlackBerry for iPhones and androids? That is quite a coincidence.