As a blogger I rely on the internet. I don’t think about it often. Rather like the driver who knows very little about cars I just get into the driving seat and drive. As with the driver in the above example, I know little about how the engine (internet) works but I trust that the manufacturer (my Internet Service Provider or ISP) will get me safely, from A to B without incident. Unfortunately as with vehicles, so with the internet, things can (and do) go wrong. In this case spectacularly so – my ISP (TalkTalk) has been hacked, (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/talktalk-cyber-attack-company-accused-of-cover-up-following-reports-customers-targeted-a-week-before-a6707091.html). The incident is shocking as the Chief Executive, Dido Harding has been reported as saying that she is uncertain as to whether key customer information (including bank details) where encrypted on the TalkTalk servers. As the head of a company entrusted with the data of around four million customers I, in my naivety would assume that chief executives should be cognisant of such matters. That is why they receive salaries which the vast majority of their customers will never see in a lifetime.
The above incident is the third such in a period of twelve months. Either TalkTalk is incredibly unlucky (but not as unlucky as it’s hapless customers) or a worrying degree of incompetence is at work here. I have my suspicions as to which one it is.
A close friend of mine (a former AOL customer, as AOL was subsumed into TalkTalk) is in the process of moving to another ISP and I am strongly minded to follow his example.
I remain in a state of disbelief that a security breech of this magnitude could take place not once, not twice but three times in a time-frame of some twelve months. Stable doors should be shut prior to (not after) the horse has bolted but TalkTalk appear to be desperately attempting to fasten the door long after the beast has departed.
The internet is, for most of us a place where we shop, interact with other like-minded individuals via social media and pursue a variety of other activities. We use search engines such as Google and even when our browser’s cookies are cleared they can, by a person with a fairly rudimentary knowledge of computers be restored enabling browsing habits to be ascertained.
In his book “The Dark Net”, Jamie Bartlett deals with the so-called dark net, a world in which anything is possible, however malign the intentions of the user. Guns, child pornography, all are available to those who know how to navigate the Dark Web.
Apart from criminals the Dark Web is also used by political dissidents wishing to avoid the attentions of authoritarian regimes. It is, in short the wild west of the internet. The Dark Web is, in brief a tool which can be employed for good or evil and is, like all technology neither good or bad, dependent as it is on the motivations of those who avail themselves of it.
This afternoon I received a call on my landline from a man claiming to be from my Internet Service Provider (ISP). When I asked him which ISP he mentioned BT, Virgin and
TalkTalk (what a busy be he must be, well some kind of b anyway)! I played him along and asked why he was calling to which he responded that he wished
to ascertain whether I had a slow internet. I said that I didn’t and he refered to viruses crawling through my speakers (naughty old viruses someone in authority really should have a stern word with them)!Anyway when he realised that this particular fish wasn’t going to bite my friend hung up. I subsequently called my ISP, (TalkTalk) who, of
course confirmed that it wasn’t them who called, what a surprise!
The above incident provided me with some wry amusement. However had the “gentleman” (I use the term advisedly) called someone unfamiliar with computers, a person with severe learning disabilities or a frail, elderly confused person the situation would not have been so humorous. I can imagine him taking control of their computer and stealing bank details etc. Heaven knows where this man got my number from as I’m not listed in the telephone directory. I guess he dialled at random and happened to get through to yours truly. As it happens I am having computer problems but rather than trust to the tender mercies of a scammer my friend Jeff will visit on Tuesday to resolve the problems I’m having. Much safer all round I think!