One morning, Sony Pictures employees who logged on to their desktops were greeted with the sound of digital gunfire and the image of a red skeleton under the title “Hacked By #GOP,” which stood for a shady organization called Guardians of Peace.
Below was a message that read, in not very good English,
“We’ve already warned you, and this is just a beginning. We continue till our request be met. We’ve obtained all your internal data Including your secrets and top secrets. If you don’t obey us, we’ll release data.”
It read like the opening of a bad movie script.
For Sony, their real-life horror movie was just getting started. The company had been infected with malware that wiped out half of Sony’s global digital network.
It infected 3,262 of Sony’s 6,797 computers and 837 of its 1,555 servers. Within hours, the worldwide media giant was thrown back in time, with employees using pens and paper.
Allegedly, the hackers had gained access to the Sony network after obtaining admin login credentials from an e-mail.
The data included personal information about Sony Pictures employees and their families, e-mails between employees, information about executive salaries at the company, copies of unreleased Sony films, plans for future Sony films, and other information.
Within weeks, U.S. intelligence agencies were pointing the finger at North Korea. Their motivation seemed to be the dark comedy called The Interview.
The movie starred Seth Rogen and James Franco as a pair of bumbling journalists who go to North Korea to interview Kim Jong Un and eventually assassinate him.
During the hack, the group demanded that Sony withdraw the upcoming film and threatened terrorist attacks at cinemas screening the film.
After many major U.S. cinema chains opted not to screen The Interview in response to these threats, Sony elected to cancel the film’s formal premiere and mainstream release, opting to skip directly to a downloadable digital release followed by a limited theatrical release the next day.
Eventually, U.S. intelligence officials, after evaluating the software, techniques, and network sources used in the hack, alleged that the attack was sponsored by the government of North Korea, who has since denied all responsibility.
Obviously, e-mail hacking is occurring at an alarming rate and these hacks are nothing new, nor will they go away anytime soon.
The problem is, e-mail isn’t the only form of communication that can easily be hacked.
Text messages are another method that is being targeted more and more. With that being said, have you ever considered what is more secure, e-mail or text?
E-mail. E-mail messages written using popular web programs like Gmail, Microsoft Outlook or Yahoo Mail are not encrypted by default. These free webmail programs are easy to track using free software tools that you can find online.
However, there are a handful of encrypted e-mail programs such as Proton, but both the sender and receiver of the e-mail must use Proton for it to remain encrypted.
Additionally, paying users of Outlook can make their e-mails encrypted, but its complicated. Basically, the e-mail is sent and the receiver must have a digital key to unlock the e-mail and make it readable.
My point is, unless everyone you e-mail is using the same software, it’s difficult to keep your e-mails encrypted.
Text messages. If you use Android, your text messages are not encrypted. However, texts sent on an iPhone, the most used digital device in the United States, to another iPhone, are encrypted, and thus, wouldn’t be able to be read without decoding.
With that in mind, if the person on the other end doesn’t have an iPhone, the message is no longer encrypted.
Encrypted apps. As you can see, e-mail and text aren’t encrypted unless both users are using the same platform. Considering this, one of the best ways to ensure your information is encrypted is to use a chat app such as WhatsApp.
Obviously, you and the people you communicate with will need to use the same app, but this is one of the most popular messaging apps with over 1 billion users.
When it comes to secure communication, e-mail is definitely the weakest, but text messages aren’t far behind.
Taking this all into account, I would recommend using an encrypted app to communicate any confidential information.