August 28, 2012

Too Well Connected

Okay, I don’t believe in being an alarmist about hacking, but if you’ve got an Amazon account, a Google account or an iCloud account, you need to read this chilling Wired article. In the space of a few hours, tech reporter Mat Honan had his iPhone and MacBook wiped (including the only copies of all his photos of his one-year-old daughter), lost two email accounts and had racist rants broadcast on his Twitter account. Later on, he ended up communicating with the hackers. For them, this attack was nothing personal – they had no grudge against him, and they had no use for any of the data on his phone or computer. They basically did it for laughs and a choice Twitter ID. Here’s a taste of how the they went about it:

‘In short, the very four [credit card] digits that Amazon considers unimportant enough to display in the clear on the web are precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to perform identity verification. The disconnect exposes flaws in data management policies endemic to the entire technology industry, and points to a looming nightmare as we enter the era of cloud computing and connected devices.’

And:

‘It turns out, a billing address and the last four digits of a credit card number are the only two pieces of information anyone needs to get into your iCloud account. Once supplied, Apple will issue a temporary password, and that password grants access to iCloud.’

And though the caution includes Amazon, it also applies to any services that deliver:

‘If you have an AppleID, every time you call Pizza Hut, you’ve giving the 16-year-old on the other end of the line all he needs to take over your entire digital life.’

Maybe you’d wonder about the kinds of malicious bastards who do this level of damage just because they can – but they’re real and they’re out there. Anyway, the golden rule seems to be to back up off your hard drive regularly and don’t connect all your accounts together with related names. Or you could lose the lot.

August 25, 2012

My New Bite-Size Book

Breaking news! I’ve done a book entitled ‘The Wolfling’s Bite’ for Little Island’s ‘Nightmare Club’ series. They’re quirky little horrors for young readers, and at about 2,000 words, they’re a little longer than my Mad Grandad books. Here’s the blurb:

‘Jessie was nuts about her cute little Wolfling toy. But her brother had heard rumours about Wolflings: they could move without being switched on. They could turn nasty. He even heard that they could bite.

‘Read it, if you dare – and hang onto your nose!’

The size and format of books in this series are the kind of thing I think we need a lot more of. There’s a little upstart named Annie Graves who claims the credit for all the stories in the series, but pay no attention to her . . . she’s an attention-seeking, conniving little minx who profits from the stories of her friends.

And I’m not scared of her ‘cauldron’ either. Not much, anyway.

There’s another book coming out next month, alongside ‘The Wolfling’s Bite’, which Annie says she wrote, but I just don’t believe her. It’s entitled ‘Frankenkids’, and I think she’s got the real author psyched out. While this is an great little series, sure to disturb and horrify innocent young readers, I urge you not to buy or borrow either of these books. That little cow Graves doesn’t deserve it.