Posted on February 11, 2019 at 11:01 AM
In the world where hacking attacks are becoming a norm, it appears that no one is safe and that anyone can be vulnerable when it comes to online threats. While many may believe that billionaires, at least, are safe from these threats, it appears that this may not be so.
A recent incident regarding the world’s richest man, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, stunned the world after the billionaire admitted to being blackmailed by National Enquirer. The tabloid somehow obtained pictures of Bezos and his mistress and threatened to publish them. As a response, Bezos decided to come out with the details himself.
No one is beyond the hackers’ reach
According to Sovereign Intelligence CEO, Mark Johnson, billionaires and high executives of various companies are often high on the list of targets when it comes to hacking attacks. Their personal data is often seen as a gold mine, not only by hackers, but by other types of criminals, as well as their competitors, and even intelligence agencies. Johnson also pointed out that the incident involving Bezos shows that no one is immune to online threats.
He also noted that it is interesting how businessmen can be extremely insightful when it comes to companies and business decisions, and yet they forget to use common-place security measures outside of the business world. The fact that every criminal out there would do anything to get insight into the business leaders’ strategies and thinking makes it that much more important for them to secure their devices.
The Bezos incident attracted a lot of attention, as expected. However, one major consequence reported by online security companies is an increase in calls from wealthy customers who wanted their systems checked for hacking attacks. According to Red Five Security’s founder, Kris Coleman, the question is not whether or not hackers are trying to get in, but for how long have they already been inside.
Coleman claims that the majority of breaches are discovered months after they are already made. The fact that all of the sensitive information regarding any internet user is already online only makes matters worse. Things like card data, Social Security numbers, driver’s license, and other details are already given to numerous websites and third-party apps.
This includes the wealthy and others alike, with the only difference now being that the wealthy are exchanging bodyguards for top security systems. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is one such example, as the CEO of Facebook spent around $4.2 million on online security in 2015. Only two years later, in 2017, this amount skyrocketed to reach $7.3 million.
In addition, Facebook announced that Zuckerberg would receive $10 million per year for improving his security alone, as protecting his devices means protecting Facebook itself.
The incidents against billionaires grow in number
While Bezos did not reveal how the tabloid got his intimate photos, experts believe that the hacker obtained them by impersonating someone from his entourage. According to Coleman, this is a common method that hackers use, and they simply contact the target via text or email. The message contains a link that, when clicked, starts a malware attack on the target’s device.
While the Bezos incident is the most recent one, it is not the only one that includes billionaires and hackers. Only several days before Bezos announced that he is being blackmailed by a tabloid, another billionaire — Joe Ricketts — became a center of another controversy. Ricketts, who is the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation, had his private messages revealed to the public, which turned out to contain a number of racist emails.
Some of the emails were found to be even ten years old, containing racist jokes and conspiracy theories. Ricketts apologized for the content after its release.
Before this, however, there was another incident in August 2015, which also included a billionaire. On this occasion, Ashley-Madison extramarital dating website was targeted by hackers who later revealed that a billionaire Dan Loeb maintained an account on the site.