Hackers recently broke into the Twitter account of The Associated Press and posted a fake tweet to its 1.9 million followers claiming two explosions in the White House and President Obama was injured.
Reuters reported, “Within three minutes of the tweet’s release, virtually all U.S. markets took a plunge on the false news in what one trader described as ‘pure chaos.’”
No more than 48 hours after the Intelligence and National Security Alliance released a policy paper on cybersecurity, they discovered that their website was hacked. Hackers then published the membership emails, phone numbers and in some cases home addresses for members of the top trade association for intelligence contractors in 2011.
Sophisticated perpetrators were behind private information recently leaked about First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, including several celebrities and other government officials, according to a recent online report by www.cnbc.com.
The article added, “The Justice Department said Monday the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating how the Social Security number, address, and a credit report of FBI Director Robert Mueller ended up on the site.”
One day after The New York Times reported that hackers had infiltrated its computers and stolen passwords for its employees, The Wall Street Journal announced that it too had been hacked. Hackers also took over the Twitter account of CBS’ 60 Minutes, saying the U.S. is ‘in bed’ with terrorists.
According to an online article in the New York Times titled, “The Year in Hacking, by the Numbers,” a Verizon report for 2012 counted more than 47,000 “security incidents.”
“The results validate that any business that operates online is at potential risk of suffering a data breach,” said Wade Baker, one of the report’s principal authors. The article went on to say, “The report shows that no matter the size of the organization — large, small, government agencies, banks, restaurants, retailers — people are stealing data from a range of different organizations and it’s a problem everyone has to deal with.”
Just as disturbing is the elaborate Internet hoax pertetrated on one evangelical preacher — Joel Osteen, claiming CNN had reported “Pastor of mega church resigns, rejects Christ.” The hoax relied on news site mock-ups, a YouTube video, a fake Twitter feed and a fake website to announce the false claim.
An online ABC News report said, “A website posing as Osteen’s official webpage unveiled a ‘special announcement,’ claiming the pastor of the Lakewood Church in Texas was leaving the Christian faith and bashed the Bible for being a ‘fallible, flawed, highly inconsistent history book.’”
Osteen reportedly spoke with ABC News and said he found the entire hoax mildly amusing.
As amusing as these hackers and hoaxsters may appear to be, these sophisticated perpetrators of mayhem are using the Internet in diabolical ways to raise the level of instability in an already unstable society. How serious is it? In March, CNN reported that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned Congress that cyberattacks are at the top of the list of threats to the U.S.
This may never affect you directly, but what if a hacker breaks into your religious organization’s website and posts lies, slander and misinformation? Will you instantly believe what you read or hear? Will you jump to conclusions?
Proverbs 14:15 says, “A gullible person believes anything, but a sensible person watches his step.” — GOD’S WORD Translation. The New Life Version of that verse reads, “The one who is easy to fool believes everything, but the wise man looks where he goes.” The New World Translation reads, “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.”
Could this guideline be useful in how you react if someone you know, or some institution you believe in, becomes the victim of a hoax or shocking reports by malicious hackers? It is interesting to note how God’s Word describes those willing to believe the first negative information they hear without checking the facts. Proverbs 17:4 says, “Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander.” — New Living Translation. The Good New Translation says, “Evil people listen to evil ideas, and liars listen to lies.”
How much better it would be to apply the advice in Ecclesiastes 7:21: “Do not take to heart everything people say.” — New King James Version. 1John 4:1 warns, “Do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God.” — New World Translation.
If communication is the lifeline of all good relationships — be it a business, government, the media or in marriage — the ability to communicate accurate information has never been as vital as it is now. Hackers are no longer content with stealing people’s identity. The greatest security risk now includes what you believe and who you can trust.
By applying Proverbs 3:5-6, to trust in God with all your heart and not lean on your own understanding — no one, including hackers, will ever be able to shut you down.