To most of us, EFF leader Julius Malema’s recent claim that his e-mail account was attacked by government backed hackers left a bit of a Spy vs Spy taste in the mouth.
Particularly after SA Communist Party bigwig Solly Mapaila made the same claim two days later.
But I don’t think it is so farfetched that politicians’ confidential correspondence can be targeted by cyber attackers. Just ask Hillary Clinton.
The shocking trend, however, is that ordinary citizens are breaking into each others’ social media accounts left, right and centre.
It is those closest to people who break into their personal accounts and spy on their correspondence.
Spouses hack each others’ Facebook messages, parents track their offspring’s cellphone movements and lovers crack lovers’ private messages behind their naked backs.
The worst of all is that you don’t have to be a Russian hacker or cyber geek to breach somebody’s social media. People don’t need coding skills.
If you have the skills to use Twitter, you can hack Twitter. What about WhatsApp’s encoded message technology? Even a rookie hacker can choose from a variety of techniques to break into the messaging service account.
The most popular seems to be software which allows a hacker in after just a few minutes with the target’s phone, such as Copy9 and a host of others.
Or he doesn’t even have to touch your phone – sniffer software allows him to hack your WhatsApp account from a distance if you’re on the same WiFi network. And Facebook? The classical techniques are rather unrefined, because it locks the user out of his or her account, which means the hacking attempt will be noticed.
More stealthily, though, are software or hardware keyloggers, which records every keystroke the user makes on a computer including passwords.
Or the hacker can use software such as FaceGeek or Spyzie or Hyper Cracker. And Twitter? Software such as Twitterhacker is abundant.
Of course it is completely illegal to hack someone’s social media account under the Electronic Communications Act. You can even go to jail for it.
Perhaps our modern world needs more than laws. We need President Jacob Zuma to become a champion for Radical Ethical Transformation. But don’t hold your breath.