Phishing and hacking were just words to me until I received a phone call from my bank a few years ago, asking me if I had transferred $1,500 to someone whose name I’d never heard before. I was told that my net banking account was violated, which surprised me as I’m usually very careful. While my bank was able to block the transaction, I couldn’t access my account until all necessary procedures were complete, which was very annoying.
In recent years, it has become increasingly common to hear of attacks on government websites, organizations, and businesses including video game companies. The attack on Sony cost the corporation more than $20 million, Japanese Club Nintendo was recently hacked more than 23,000 times, EA has been attacked by Lulzsec, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has been hit, Ubisoft’s uPlay service was attacked, Bethesda was affected — in short, no one’s immune and the list is endless.
In most of the cases, I’ve seen a considerable amount of gamers cheering on the hackers, justifying their attacks.
The question is, why do we always assume that video game companies are villains in the story who deserve to be hacked? Do we have any consideration for the people who are actually affected or should we just let our hate for a particular company prevent us from being rational and cloud our judgment?
Let’s be fair; hacking and stealing information is just as much of a crime as it is to break into someone’s house to steal. And it should be treated as such. When we cheer and egg on hackers, we’re a part of the problem.
I’m not saying that companies shouldn’t be held accountable. They should be. After all, we trust them with our private information. Earlier this year, Sony was fined $394.5 million because the attack was deemed preventable. Fair enough. But there’s one important thing to remember here; if it’s made by man, it can be broken by man.
With the amount of information and knowledge that people have access to today, it’s not impossible to hack into high-security systems. The Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) in the UK was also hacked by the same group that was behind the attack on Sony. Are we really foolish enough to assume that SOCA didn’t protect their systems enough given the nature of their work?
I work for the UK’s Foreign Office and know what kind of security measures we need to deploy. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not because we sit and plot things against the general public all day long. There’s a good chunk of information that even I can’t have access to, let alone an obnoxious 16-year old who can broadcast it all over the internet.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think hackers deserve to be thrown behind bars for twenty odd years. Most of them are young and quite obviously talented individuals. While they deserve to be punished for their actions as a deterrent, authorities can assist in developing these individuals so that they utilize their talents and make something of themselves.
However, the fact of the matter is that these hackers are a nuisance to everyone. And I find it bizarre that gamers mostly complain about them when they’re climbing on top of online leaderboards, but excessively criticize companies for something that hackers deserve the larger proportion of blame for.
It’s time to change that mindset.