By Woody Leonhard
Last week, somebody broke into Gawker.com and stole 1.3 million account names, e-mail addresses, and passwords — and then posted all the booty on the Internet.
Your online security might not be at the top of your mind this time of year, but most likely you’re doing more Internet shopping. In light of the Gawker break-in, take a few minutes to assess your passwords.
Think you’re immune because you’ve never used Gawker? Not necessarily so. If you’ve spent any time at all on Lifehacker.com or Gizmodo.com — and I bet you have — your passwords may be running around with a giant “kick me” sign on their backs.
A group calling itself Gnosis broke into the Gawker.com servers and stole the site’s source code, employee e-mails, user account info, and much more. Gnosis then rolled that data into a BitTorrent file and sent it pinging around the Internet. According to a Mediaite.com story, the Gnosis hack was meant to rattle Gawker’s self-deluded sense of data security.
If that were the whole story, you probably wouldn’t need to give it a second thought. But Gawker Media Network, owner of Gawker.com, also runs two widely used tech sites: Lifehacker.com and Gizmodo.com. The Gawker crackers picked up user info about everyone who has an account at any Gawker Media site.