I started my morning by screaming at my computer. Not because someone was wrong on the internets, this time it was in outrage (yet again) at the hopelessness of the news media.
It was only a week ago I was ranting and raving on Twitter about how differently the same story was being reported by varying news outlets, some (ABC) making the science based medicine stories very negative while others (SMH, Telegraph, Reuters, AFP etc) giving a more realistic and positive story. Today though it wasn’t so much the reporter’s incompetence or bias, but rather it was the sheer idiocy of the editor.
No, they weren’t hacked. They weren’t cracked either. Hacking and cracking both require a compromise of the business’ systems. That in no way shape or form took place. What happened is that the users were phished.
There’s not much point reading the story, it has been highly modified since I first spied it this morning. From the looks of things the changes were more along the lines of the way the reporter actually wrote it up – the story is much more flowing now and streamlined. Previously it repeated itself talking about hacking and break-ins until the half way point where it finally mentioned phishing and gave a very half-arsed attempt at explaining what phishing was.
The original story (which I now wish I captured) made it look as though someone had broken in to Hotmail’s systems and stolen peoples usernames and passwords. A basic analogy would be someone picking the lock of your car, starting it and driving off. This could quite easily be claimed as the manufacturers fault for not making the car secure enough.
Phishing on the other hand, the event that actually took place, is where the perps (not necessarily hackers) trick you in to handing over your details. A basic analogy here, would be someone coming up to you and saying “I’ll give you a cookie if you give me your car keys”, you handing them over, and them driving off without giving you your cookie. The manufacturer isn’t in the slightest way to blame, it is purely you for being stupid enough to hand over your keys to a stranger.
Two VERY different situations.
A common argument for traditional media in the media vs bloggers debate is that traditional media use professional reporters and high paid staff so that the stories are more accurate and thoroughly researched. Blogs are often just people slapping some bad sources together and getting it completely wrong. This story, in its original form anyway, is a prime example of just how false that argument is.