Everybody! Gather whatever belongings you can and head to the nearest fallout shelter, because hackers just broke into Apple Headquarters, and the evil code-clipping villains got Facebook, too. In conclusion, the world is probably going to end soon, so you should say your goodbyes.
Just kidding. Not about the hacks, though. That really happened, and it is a little scary, depending on your definition of fear. Apple recently revealed the hack — of Chinese origins, of course — to Reuters, who described it as "a sophisticated attack by infiltrating its employees' laptops." Apple says that the actual number of employee Macs affected is very low and that "there was no evidence that any data left Apple."
Facebook made a similar announcement on its website, admitting that some of its engineers visited a compromised website that downloaded malware onto their work computers. (Boy would I like to know what website that was.) Facebook also described it as a "significant attack" but added that there is "no evidence that Facebook user data was compromised in this attack." It's unclear what kind of damage the Chinese hackers did to those poor engineers' machines.
The real question is: What will the Chinese hackers do to your machine? Apparently, whatever they want. Just a day before Apple fessed up to its breach, the cybersecurity firm Mandiant released a jaw-dropping 60-page report on how hackers from the People's Liberation Army in China have been systematically attacking United States infrastructure for years.
This was just a couple of days after Bloomberg Businessweek published a revealing investigative piece about cybersecurity whiz Joe Stewart and his hunt for one particular Chinese Army hacker. And that wasn't long after The New York Times very publicly announced that it had been attacked by Chinese hackers, probably from the P.L.A., for four months straight. They hired Mandiant to help investigate.
It's a little weird that so many high-profile cyber attacks made headlines within days of each other. Did cybersecurity professionals finally figure out the Chinese Army's digital Achilles heel? Did they create some super duper hacker sniffer? Did we win?
Well, the hacker hunters aren't going to reveal exactly how they're rooting out hackers, because then hackers would find another avenue for attack. What makes more sense is that the coincidence of timing is somehow related to President Obama's recent executive order for increased cybersecurity and a heightened public interest in Chinese hackers. Plus, it makes good sense to break the news about a hack around the same time that others are doing the same. At the very least, it's less embarrassing.
Speaking of vulnerable, if you weren't paying attention to cybersecurity before, you should now. (Feeling like a broken record on this point.) If hackers can breach the firewall into Apple Headquarters and break into Apple employees' presumably super secure MacBooks, your MacBook is hardly safe. There's a little less danger of being impacted by a Facebook attack, but as these military-grade Chinese hackers expand their scope from government organizations and multinational corporations to individuals like you and me, danger there will be.