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19-Jul-2018 09:32

(I don’t.) They called the local utility company to see if I had an account there.

(I do, but it’s not under my name.) They found my Social Security number on a special-purpose search engine, and took a survey of my social media activities.

Fortune 500 companies do this kind of thing all the time.

It’s called “penetration testing,” or “pentesting,” and it’s a staple of the modern corporate security arsenal.

If I had to give myself an overall digital security grade, I’d give myself an A-.

But as it turned out, it didn’t matter how good my defenses were.

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Most of this was information I’d made available on purpose, but some of it wasn’t.To make the act more convincing, and elicit sympathy from the customer service rep, she found a You Tube video of a crying baby and played it in the background, while spinning an elaborate sob story about how I was out of the country on business, and how, if she could just get into the account, she could get the information she needed to apply for a loan.(You can watch Jessica’s vishing call at in the video above—it’s pretty amazing.) The act worked: the customer service worker believed that Jessica was my wife, and—over the screams of the You Tube baby noises—not only allowed her to access my account, but allowed her to change the password, effectively locking me out.My only conditions were that the hackers had to promise not to steal money or any other assets from me, reveal any of my private information, or do any harm to me, my data, or anyone else.And then, at the end of the hack, I wanted them to tell me what they found, delete any copies they’d made, and help me fix any security flaws or vulnerabilities I had.

Most of this was information I’d made available on purpose, but some of it wasn’t.

To make the act more convincing, and elicit sympathy from the customer service rep, she found a You Tube video of a crying baby and played it in the background, while spinning an elaborate sob story about how I was out of the country on business, and how, if she could just get into the account, she could get the information she needed to apply for a loan.

(You can watch Jessica’s vishing call at in the video above—it’s pretty amazing.) The act worked: the customer service worker believed that Jessica was my wife, and—over the screams of the You Tube baby noises—not only allowed her to access my account, but allowed her to change the password, effectively locking me out.

My only conditions were that the hackers had to promise not to steal money or any other assets from me, reveal any of my private information, or do any harm to me, my data, or anyone else.

And then, at the end of the hack, I wanted them to tell me what they found, delete any copies they’d made, and help me fix any security flaws or vulnerabilities I had.

But the interconnected nature of digital security means that all of us are vulnerable, if the companies that safeguard our data fall down on the job.