Nov. 21, 2012 at 4:18 PM ET
A group calling itself the ZCompanyHackingCrew has taken credit for the defacing of the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Blogger accounts belonging to Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom. The same group has posted what it claims are the partial contents of Shalom's Gmail inbox along with contact information and a variety of seemingly confidential documents.
According to the Next Web's Emil Protalinski, the ZCompanyHackingCrew posted a file on document-sharing site PasteBin containing what "appears to contain Shalom’s personal phone number, as well as that of his chief of staff. It also apparently lists six of his email addresses, 20 screenshots of his various emails in his Gmail account, his entire contact list (names and email addresses), as well as confidential documents." This data was supposedly pulled from Shalom's Gmail account, of which the group claims it has gained control.
Facebook told NBC News that it has looked into the matter. "After an investigation by Facebook Security into Vice Prime Minister Shalom's Page, we have concluded that the inappropriate posts did not in any way represent a compromise of Facebook," Facebook's spokesperson said. "We are in contact with the Page administrators and have already assisted in remediating the Page and any affected accounts."
"We don't comment on individual cases, so we won't be able to provide any specifics," a Google spokesperson told NBC News. Twitter has not responded to our request for comment on this matter.
The ZCompanyHackingCrew has posted tweets to distance itself from Anonymous, which has embarked on a campaign to target Israeli websites. Shalom was "hacked to show solidarity with Gaza and raise voice against Israeli brutalities," a tweet from the group's Twitter account explains.
The Next Web reported that there aren't many details regarding just how Shalom's accounts were compromised. Protalinski speculates that the Vice Prime Minister may have been using the same password for multiple accounts — which is a pretty big security no-no. While we wait to discover further details regarding Shalom's situation, let's use the incident as a reminder that password security should be taken seriously.
Password security for the rest of us
Hacking government officials is a serious offense, one which could be considered a breach of national security in some cases, but a security breach can shake up lives even when it doesn't involve a high-ranking position. Password security is a significant matter and you should take steps to keep yourself and your data safe.
As we've pointed out in the past, you should start with passwords that are so strong that they could beat Popeye in an arm wrestling contest. When possible, use an extra layer of protection by enabling two-factor authentication on accounts. And don't recycle passwords, for goodness sake! An app for every password and a password for every app should be the theme you follow. Do not reuse passwords, no matter how tempting it is.
And don't forget that you're only as strong as your weakest link either. If Shalom's Gmail account was the first to go down, for example, it might have been used to reset the passwords on the other accounts. (Assuming those weren't the exact same character combinations to begin with.)
That's what you can take away from this incident for now — that it's yet another reminder of how important it is to practice safe password creation.
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