Hacking: Affecting the Nation

By Kenya Chaney
A&E Editor

Internet hacking does not sound alarming, but it can affect our government. For example, government information can be leaked to other countries. Internet hacking even occurs on local scales, such as the threat that Habersham County received in February from a group of anonymous hacktivists via YouTube.

According to CNN.com, approximately half of America had their personal information exposed. Computer hacking can cause people to lose money, identity and sense of online security. So how can you make sure you’re protected from computer hacking?

Mitchell Clouatre, a Piedmont IT Department member said, “Strong passwords; good antivirus. Know what programs you have open.”

Cyber-attacks have been hitting American companies and Internet systems since 1988. The first recognized cyber-attack was referred to as the Morris Worm. The Morris Worm spread all over America’s Internet system. The bug slowed down computers to the point that they could not be usable. The creator of the bug, Robert Tapan Morris, saw it as an opportunity to see just how big the Internet really was. Morris was the first person convicted under the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or the CFAA.

The CFAA was established in 1984. This act prohibited illegal access to networks. The law became active in 1986.  Another law regarding cyber-attacks was passed in 2013 called the Aaron Law. Aaron Schwartz had supposedly connected a computer to MIT’s network in order to download millions of academic papers. Because of this, Schwartz was prosecuted. While still awaiting trial, Schwartz committed suicide in 2013. According to Wired.com, the Aaron Law excludes breaches of terms of services and user agreements from the law. The law clearly draws a line between a serious criminal hacking into comparison with an individual such as Schwartz, who commits a hacking on a minor level.

But hacking has infiltrated the media so much so that we hear different stories about it often. The largest story recently was when Sony Entertainment neared the release of “The Interview,” a film starring Seth Rogan and James Franco that depicts the assassination of the current North Korean president, Kim Jong- Un, the plot line caused an uproar with North Korea, resulting in a cyber-attack on Sony Entertainment and a delay on the film’s release.

Fortune Magazine conducted a survey regarding companies that believed they would be hit by a major cyber-attack within this year and companies that have already been hit. According to Fortune.com, the survey resulted in 52 percent of companies saying that they believe they will be hit by a cyber-attack, a higher percentage than the previous year, which was at 39 percent. Seventy-one percent of companies revealed that they were hit by a cyber-attack within the last year.

JPMorgan Chase and Company was affected by a hard-hitting cyber-attack last summer. Seventy-six million households and seven million small businesses were involved in the attack. Because JPMorgan Chase is the biggest bank in the nation, the attack shook businesses and the economy. According to the New York Times, JPMorgan Chase had claimed that only one million accounts were affected. The attack supposedly began in June of 2014, but it was discovered later that year. Hackers received the addresses, phone numbers and e-mails of JPMorgan customers. The hack made people aware of the sensitivity and weak security of bank computer systems. The bank said that they planned to pay more for higher security, approximately $250 million a year.

President Obama spoke about cyber-attacks earlier this year. According to the LA Times, the president believed that due to the hacking of Sony Entertainment, the nation’s economy is vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

“This is a direct threat to the economic security of American families. If we are connected, then we need to be protected,” Obama said.