Journo Asks Hackers to Spy on Him—With Scary Results
Took control of his wife's computer, got into his bank account, cracked all his passwords
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2013 4:23 PM CDT
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Some 14 years ago, journalist Adam Penenberg wrote an article for Forbes in which he paid a private detective to investigate him, starting with nothing but his name. This year, he decided to repeat the experiment for the 21st Century, asking an "ethical hacking team" to do the same thing. The results, he writes in PandoDaily, were "chilling." In the original investigation, the PI took a week to find his social security number, mother’s maiden name, phone records, rent, bank accounts, stock holdings, and utility bills. The hackers went way, way further. After finding Penenberg's address, they flew to New York and staked out his apartment.

Though they never made it inside, they did manage to infiltrate his wife's Pilates studio and install a "backdoor" on the her work computer. She was using such an ancient machine that the program didn't work, so they successfully hacked her laptop instead, by emailing a job application with malware in the attached resume. From there, they got Penenberg's social security number, online banking password, and other passwords for sites like Amazon—the formula for which allowed them to crack every single password he has. They also hacked his Twitter account, and remotely disabled his iPhone and laptop. "Since we concluded this exercise I’ve changed my passwords and log ins," writes Penenberg, "but I don’t delude myself into thinking I’m protected from prying eyes—the government’s or anyone else’s." Click through for his full report.

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Showing 3 of 10 comments
NSA-CIApuppet
Oct 31, 2013 1:17 AM CDT
"by emailing a job application with malware in the attached resume. From there, they got Penenberg's social security number, online banking password, and other passwords for sites like Amazon—the formula for which allowed them to crack every single password he has. They also hacked his Twitter account, and remotely disabled his iPhone and laptop". I don't know but does it not seem this was not THEIR accomplishment but quite simply his wife's incredible stupidity & cyber illiteracy in opening the attachment &/or not having software to tell her it was a suspicious file?
Lefty_Libby
Oct 27, 2013 9:05 PM CDT
In a women's support group, I met someone who was being cyber stalked and stalked by the cyber stalkers in real life, as well. It was horrific. The people stalking her were strangers to her. It is a type of stalking that is done to satisfy a personal vendetta for someone, and it is conducted in a way similar to 'crowd funding.' Large anonymous groups are involved and the stalkers do not even know one another. They made her life a living hell.
Observer
Oct 27, 2013 8:24 AM CDT
Pay with cash and never ever put something in cyberspace that is career busting, incriminating or unretractable.