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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

Why do Hackers always Wear Hoodies?
Sunday, January 7, 2024 @ 6:27 PM

Hackers got into the Orange telephone last week, disrupting the service for a few hours. Later, the same hackers put out a statement saying how they did it and accusing Orange of using ‘weak’ passwords. A hacker, says Wiki, ‘is someone with knowledge of bugs or software who can break into computer systems and access data which would otherwise be inaccessible to them’.

Usually for profit.

Several big names have been attacked in Spain this autumn – such as Telefónica and Vodafone, TeleMadrid or PTV Telecom; Endesa, the City Hall of Seville and even a number of leading banks. All of these companies employ professional IT (information technology) people to keep their accounts safe. Spain is third in the world after the USA and Russia for the number of cyber-attacks suffered.

All we have, here in our homes, is a mild distrust of anything that looks fishy and maybe an old dog-eared copy of Computers for Dummies lying around somewhere

And as for ‘weak’ passwords: if they ain’t weak, then I’m not going to remember them; and if they are strong, then I will need to have them written down somewhere, probably on a Post-it stuck to the wall behind the PC.

Anyway, now it appears hackers ‘have discovered a way to access Google accounts without a password’, so that’s corked it for all of us. 

I suppose being hacked on Facebook is easy enough, and probably reasonably painless. You see those posts sometimes about a terrible accident with someone you might know – click here! These are evidently for the gullible, but sooner or later, you’ll be caught out. This type involves you clicking on the link – the same as when your favourite bank sends you a slightly improbable message or your ‘daughter’ posts to say she’s lost her phone and can you send her some money (this is known as phishing). Click, and you are caught.

Few of us are computer experts – and we often only know a few routes through the maze without having the least idea of how the maze is built. Easy enough – who wants to design a jet-engine or an apartment block? Then, when a new update (or worse still, a full operating system) comes along – we throw our hands in the air: ‘I just got it working to my satisfaction, and now they’ve gone and fooled with it again’.

That’s probably all done to keep up with the competition, to keep the shareholders happy and the programmers rich – or is it the other way around? – as well as potentially staying one step ahead of the hackers.

In the end, it may be for the best not to keep a link to your bank account on your mobile phone, just in case someone gets into the system. Or for that matter, keep your money under the mattress rather than in the bank – although this presents an opportunity for an entirely different kind of criminal.

Maybe – like my friend Alicia – not keep a credit card at all (usually meaning that I have to pay for lunch), although the banks will have insurance for this. Wiki again: ‘Cardholders' money is usually protected from scammers with regulations that make the card provider and bank accountable. The technology and security measures behind credit cards are continuously advancing, adding barriers for fraudsters attempting to steal money’.

So we do the best we can, keeping suspicious and full of mistrust as we answer or ignore the stuff we find on our computers and phones (in the hope that they won’t hack the banks, phone or insurance companies or anyone else who has our details).

It’s a war which we can only watch from the side-lines, hoping that the good guys win.

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