I knew this Internet thing would end up being nothing but trouble.
As you heard last week if you spend any time online, the Internet was basically ruined for everyone by a security flaw with the evocative and awesome name of Heartbleed. The actual problem created by this flaw is technically convoluted and involves a lot of acronyms, but hereís the short version: Do you see that little lock icon at the top of your Web browser, the one that looks like a lock, that gives the indication of something being locked, that makes you sit in your office or on your couch or in the Ecuadorian embassy feeling all secure because your stuff is locked? Yeah turns out it wasnít locked.
Not only was it not locked, it was more or less accessible to anyone nefarious on the Internet for a short amount of time, just a matter of Ö (shuffling papers) Ö two years, SO YEAH donít sweat it or anything, but if youíve entered information into the Internet in the past two years your credit card may currently be in the hands of swarthy, bearded Moldavian hackers. And Iíve a love-hate relationship with those guys anyway, since they pretty much make it so I can watch any NFL game I want to (thanks again, fellas, and go, Bears!), but now I donít know how much I can trust them.
Man, Iíll tell you, I used to be extremely cool, but Iíve started to become a 78-year-old Kentucky libertarian about this whole Internet security thing. Every time thereís a blip, a bleep, a sweep or a creep on my email, bank or other important accounts (just kidding, I have no other important accounts, as Iím pretty sure the contents of my Pinterest board are of little value to aspiring Moldavian Bitcoin pirates), I go into a weird personal lockdown mode. I pull the shutters in my office, disconnect the WiFi, adjust the foil helmet on my head, donate a couple bucks to Rand Paul and start changing all my important passwords.
Please note this happens when thereís news of a break-in accounts I donít even HAVE. Like, there will be a report of a MySpace security breach, and I will panic and change my passwords, despite not having a MySpace account since 1946. Gchat goes down for a few hours, and my first thought is ďWELL OBVIOUSLY THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT NOW COMMANDS MY EMAILS.Ē This is true: The homepage on my Google Chrome browser last week suddenly changed, and I unplugged the computer for three days. OK, thatís not entirely true. It was two days, and I only shut off the WiFi.
I do this because I have some history with wipeouts. Anybody remember Napster, the program in the early oughts that everybody said was about the free and open swapping of ideas, but was actually entirely just about stealing music from strangers? Well I donít want to risk any legal maneuvering but I might have helped myself to a track or two, but Iíll be dipped if one of them didnít go in and replace my hard drive with what appeared to be a heaping bowl of pudding. Nothing worked after that; it got so bad that I spent a few years purchasing music with money. WITH REAL MONEY. God, the depths at which people find themselves sometimes.
But, like all over-caffeinated freakouts, I find my concern is inconsistent with the potential for actual damage. If anyone wanted to break into my bank account, please, go nuts, enjoy your $38 and let me know what you splurged on. If they wanted to break into my Facebook theyíd see Ö um, lots of pictures of my children and some seriously annoying self-promotion. Mostly people would be surprised I was active on Facebook again (ďHey, Jeffís posting again, although he keeps asking us all for our credit card numbers and seems to be fluent in Moldavian nowĒ).
Jeff Vrabel is just kidding, heís always been fluent in Moldavian. He can be reached at http://jeffvrabel.com or followed at http://twitter.com/jeffvrabel, which are both virus-free.