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Week in Review: A Breakdown in Internet Security Targets Prominent Americans

March 19, 2013

Samantha Lee, ‘16

Considering modern technological advancements, it is no surprise that many hackers throughout the world are working diligently to obtain private information through computers and online databases.  Recently, however, the targets of such excursions have been prominent US political and public figures, such as First Lady Michelle Obama.

An Internet site using a domain originally registered in the Soviet Union has been publishing sensitive information about celebrities and politicians.  This mysterious website has obtained and posted private information about people in the public eye such as rapper Jay-Z, the head of the FBI, singer Britney Spears, Attorney General Eric Holder, former Governor Sarah Palin, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck, Jerry Sandusky, Vice President Joe Biden, and most recently, the First Lady.

The information on this Russian site includes social security numbers, dates of birth, credit reports, current addresses, previous home addresses, phone numbers as well as unflattering pictures.  The information posted on the First Lady included her monthly payments on a student loan from ten years ago and records indicating she once owned a Banana Republic credit card.  When investigated, the information on these individuals has been shown to match accurate records.

The Secret Service has now joined the FBI’s investigation, along with the Los Angeles Police Department, in the search for the party behind these personal attacks.  Leaking this sort of information can cause accounts and utilities to be shut off and can lead to identity theft for some of the most powerful people in the country.  President Barack Obama has spoken of the importance of this issue, saying that we should not be surprised that hackers are trying to penetrate our privacy.  The investigation is ongoing in the attempt to discover who is responsible for these security leaks.

 

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