Why No One Cares About Data Hacks

No one cares about getting hacked for 1 simple reason: Data is one of the few things that can be stolen and yet remain in its original location.

You’ve been hacked, your data is stolen, and yet you still have it. It’s very unusual. So when it happens we don’t feel violated. When something physical is stolen from us, or broken, the problem is obvious – there’s a void, we get emotional and we take action. One type of hack we care far more about is ransomware attacks. In this instance we are forced to pay a ransom to regain access to our files. And you guessed it, the reason we care is because the data is gone. But in the case of 99% of data hacks the victim is totally unaware it has even happened.

Hacking isn’t really hacking, it’s stealing. The incorrect naming is part of the problem and while segments of our society care deeply about hacking (me included) we generally care far less than we should. So let’s conduct a couple of quick thought experiments.

Senario 1

You get on line one morning only to discover you’ve been hacked. All the pictures of your family for the past 10 years are gone from every device, forever. All of a sudden you care.

Senario 2

You get to work only to find that every email you’ve ever sent, received, saved and filed is gone. All your projects, all that corporate ass covering, everything gone. All of a sudden you care.

Senario 3

It’s Friday night you go to watch a movie, put on some of your music, the digital versions you bought, but the files are all gone. Stolen. All of a sudden you care.

Scenario 4

Imagine you go to buy something with PayWave. Yet, all your money in digital form (read here all of it)  has gone to zero overnight. All of a sudden you care.

Scenario 5

Your autonomous car starts driving somewhere you didn’t ask it to. It’s gathering speed heading towards a bunch of pedestrians. All of a sudden you care.

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This last scenario is the is the best example of why we need to start caring much more than we do. It’s a glimpse into the future of hacking. Hacking with real physical and immediate consequences. Digital stuff is about to control our electricity grid, drive our cars, run our houses and maybe one day regulate our heart beats and augment our brains.  We have to fix this stuff now, while it’s relatively easy and long before we finish building the computational cage we’ll be living in.