Dear hackers: You broke the Internet, now fix it

The rash of attacks on Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and others can mean only one thing: Hackers are in control. Let's see how they deal with that.

I am hereby declaring the Pottery Barn Rule to be in effect for the entire Internet. Memo to all hackers worldwide: You broke it, you own it, now fix it.

Let’s just recap the last week or so.

We have the Mandiant report, published earlier this week by the New York Times, which details how Chinese Army hackers wormed their way into more than 140 US and Canadian organizations over the last six years, including (ahem) the New York Times.

Then there’s the Twitter follies:  Several major brands were taken over by pranksters this week, among them Jeep, Burger King, and Fitzer Automotive.

Some of these hacks were clearly just juveniles messing around. Like the ones who changed Burger King’s Twitter handle and image to “McDonalds,” then blasted out tweets like this:

burger king tweets.png

Shortly thereafter, presumably the same delinquents claimed Jeep was bought by Cadillac and began riffing:

jeep tweet 450p.png

Other more commercially minded hackers were trying to pocket a few bucks by spewing out spammy affiliate links:

fisker tweet 400p.png

Of course, the news here isn’t all bad. Burger King’s Twitter account gained 60K new followers after the hack. And had you ever heard of Fisker Automotive before today? I hadn’t. 

Still, that’s the lighter side of hacking, which seems to mostly involve guessing sites’ Twitter passwords. Other attacks were less benign.

Employees at Facebook, Twitter, and Apple found their systems compromised after they visited the iPhoneDevSDK forum. That geek haven was targeted by a “watering hole” attack – drawing javabeests to the hole only to pounce upon the old and the weak, infecting them. There are likely to be many more by the time the dust finally settles.

According to the HitmanPro blog, a number of NBC.com sites were compromised to serve up malware that turns any visitors’ system into a botnet zombie.

The Zendesk customer support service database was breached, spilling email addresses and more for customers of Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

Have I left any out? Probably.

So I’m here to say that I, for one, welcome our alien hacker overlords. Game over. You won. But now that you’ve bollixed your favorite plaything, you need to fix it.

I’m serious. Think how much better things would work if all these talented code monkeys used their powers for good and not evil. They could certainly offer better customer support than most companies do. Maybe that’s why Zendesk got targeted.

So the next time my crappy cable Internet connection goes on the fritz (ie, in about 17 minutes), I’m not calling Time Warner, I’m calling you, Mr. Anonymous.

Hate Facebook’s latest privacy sapping feature or Apple’s incessant iTunes updates? Send a tweet to AntiSec.

And when Elon Musk wants to call a New York Times reporter a liar and a fake, he needs to take that up with Wen Jiabao.

Spammers nearly destroyed email; now hackers threaten to do the same to the Web. If they’re going to treat the Net as their own private playground, the least they can do is clean up afterward.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld onTwitter and Facebook.

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