For many users of 4chan, August 31st 2014 comes down as one of the most controversial internet events in history. The Fappening, which still has accumulated over thirty-thousand hashtag counts just this past month, is the hacking of over 200 private photos of celebrities. The hacks were confirmed to have been aimed towards Apple’s cloud services or better known as iCloud. This event stirred a lot of debate towards internet security. What could have been different to stop this from being ever happened?
Two factors came into play that made the hacking possible – the alleged compromising of Apple’s database and the victim’s account information. Having multiple online identities and particularly an anonymous one is a growing trend in the digital world. It would be naive to think that the hackers wouldn’t find another possible way to obtain the images had the account informations been anonymous or under pseudonyms but it would’ve surely decreased the risks.
On the other hand, it can be argued that anonymity gave the hackers power in the first place. By hiding behind several layers of proxy servers, they were able to perform the attacks with confidence. Anonymity, in the hands of the wrong people, is evidently dangerous.
“As soon as you log into a Gmail account, you start getting ads for the drug rehab you want to forget. If you’re in a real-name environment, such as Facebook, unless you actually physically change your name and your friends, you’re thrown right back into your old life.”
- Andrew Lewman, Executive Director of the Tor Project.
Lewman makes a revealing point that I can personally relate to. Online gaming was a big part of my life growing up and as cliché as it may sound it served as a place to find myself. In the real world, I was an awkward 15 year old with low self esteem, in game, I was someone else. Separating my real self from my online persona gave me liberty to shape the person I am today.
Contrary to popular beliefs, the digital world is slowly dialling down the need for having multiple online identities. Convenience is as important to a lot of people as is anonymity. Knowing I can share almost literally all on Facebook is a big plus.
Having multiple online identities gives the user the sense of power, control and liberty. Unfortunately, anyone can have them.
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
- Uncle Ben from The Spiderman.
TJX Hacker Gets 20 Years in Prison – http://www.wired.com/2010/03/tjx-sentencing/
Authenticity vs Anonymity: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity