It would normally take nothing short of the apocalypse to drag Sneak away from US syndicated talk show, The Steve Wilkos Show. After all, when the former head of security at The Jerry Springer Show gets his own programme, it's gotta be must-see TV.
So it's lucky that Sneak doesn't reside in Montana, where local station KRTV had its ground-breaking episode 'Teen cheaters take lie detectors' rudely interrupted by a honking siren and panic-inducing announcement that the dead were rising from their graves to attack local residents.
“Do not attempt to approach or apprehend these bodies as they are considered extremely dangerous,” viewers were warned by a computer-like voice.
Luckily for Montana residents, the zombie apocalypse had not broken out – after all, Sneak's pretty confident that when it happens, Stoke-on-Trent is first in line. As it turns out, pranksters had hacked the station's emergency alert systems, and issued the fake zombie alert.
“Someone apparently hacked into the Emergency Alert System and announced on KRTV and the CW that there was an emergency in several Montana counties,” the station subsequently announced on its website, pointedly making no reference to zombies, in case fears were inflamed further.
“This message did not originate from KRTV, and there is no emergency,” it added.
Unfortunately for Sneak, there's no word yet on whether the teen cheater passed the polygraph test.
Like many workers, Sneak struggles to manage his Facebook, eBay and Reddit commitments with the drudgery of his day-to-day job. But now Sneak has realised the secret to striking the perfect work-life balance.
Verizon's latest security blog posting details a great story about a worker at an unnamed firm working in US critical infrastructure. It had installed a VPN service to allow some of its staff to work from home for a couple of days a week, and all was good. Or at least it was until they started checking the logs.
It appeared they had an open and active connection to Shenyang, China. Given the VPN needed two-factor authentication, this had all the hallmarks of a sophisticated malware attack on their infrastructure – and given the nature of their work, that set the alarms bell ringing.
Having drafted in Verizon Wireless to help out, the firm soon discovered that one of its developers had been compromised. Not by a group of nefarious Chinese hackers, but by an affliction Sneak knows only too well: lazyitis.
The developer in his mid-40s had been hiring a Chinese consulting firm to do his job for him. He'd simply FedEx his security token over, and sit back and enjoy his pay cheque – as we all know, offshore workers can be much cheaper. In fact, as the investigators discovered, it looked like he'd been running the same scam with a number of firms in the area.
Still, it's not all bad news. The developer in question had quarter after quarter been rated as the best in the firm, so at least the firm was getting good coding for its money.
In another example of the dangers posed by the online world, the YouTube channel of kids TV show Sesame Street was hacked at the weekend and videos of muppets replaced by hardcore porn.
Sneak is not sure whether the porn videos in question had a Sesame Street theme, although they do add a rather sinister edge to the show's theme tune and its immortal lyrics: "Come and play, everything's A OK. Friendly neighbours there that's where we meet...Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street."
The videos were available to view for some 20 minutes or so before YouTube suspended the channel for violating its guidelines.
Although credit must go to the YouTube team for acting so quickly, this represents another cautionary tale for content owners to make sure their password security is water-tight.
The destroyers of childhood innocence, or hackers, left a message on the Sesame Street YouTube channel profile arguing, "Who doesn't love porn kids?".
They urged this invisible army of porn hungry six-year-olds not to "let Sesame Street get this account back", arguing that they would "make all the America happy!".
Well, either happy or very, very disappointed.
As for the hackers, where next? Maybe they could expand their horizons to other kids TV channels. He-Man was half way there anyway, while Noggin the Nog could do with a re-working for the 21st century, Sneak thinks. What do you think kids?
14 Apr 2011
Sneak often has a lot of respect for hackers (ethical ones mind, not nasty ones) for their intelligence and computing skills, but one French hacker has shown he may not be the smartest cookie on the web after bragging of his skills on national TV, according to Softpedia.com.
The hacker, known enigmatically as 'Carl', bragged - and demonstrated to a national audience - how he broke into the systems of the French army and Thales Group, a company that provides systems and services for the defence and security markets.
He also said he sells and uses credit card and bank account data to buy things for himself, in another move that the authorities must have just loved hearing broadcast into their living rooms.
'Carl' obviously didn't realise that TV is a medium in which most people are well versed, particularly major nation states and huge multinational IT companies, and so was rather quickly subjected to an investigation into his claims.
He was soon picked up by the authorities, who discovered a wealth of compromised credit card and bank account data in the process, and he is now in jail awaiting trial.
The producers of the show, Complément d'enquête (Further investigation), said they did not give any information to the authorities so it's not fully known how they tracked him down, but then appearing on national TV must make it a touch easier.
Still, maybe the authorities will ask him to join them in their fight against cyber criminals, just so long as they keep him well away from any TV shows to stop him telling everyone how they track potential suspects. Zut Alors!