Is Your Information Safe Online?

Have you ever thought about how safe your information is online?

In a recent article on, renowned businessman Adam Penenberg challenged a group of hackers and private investigators at a group called SpiderLabs, to investigate him. What they found was incredible, and a bit unnerving.

According to Penenberg, about 250 million Americans are on the Internet today, and spend an average of 23 hours a week online and texting, with 27 percent of that engaged in social media. Penenberg, with this information in mind, and knowing much of his information was stored online (in what he was sure were secured spaces), hired SpiderLabs to dig up whatever information they could. The two parties wrote out a contract, in which SpiderLabs agreed not to break any laws, and they set to work.

The investigators put together an eight-part plan that included gaining access to Penenberg’s home wireless network, his wife’s work computer files, his office desktop, and his home itself. They set out to lure him to virus-infected website that had created through a clever series of emails and tweets, and were eventually successful.

After gaining access to Penenberg’s wife’s computer via a spam email, he writes, the investigators were able to track down his W2, which contained his social security number, passwords, and login information to his bank accounts. At that point, and without breaking the law, Penenberg writes, “They got into our checking and savings accounts, a corporate bond account, our credit card statements and online bills. They could, if they had wanted to, wipe us out financially.”

What’s perhaps even more frightening, Penenberg argues, is that as simple as it was for SpiderLabs to attain his personal information, it is even easier for investigators or hackers to gather similar information when investigating a corporation. He writes that a large organization offers hundreds of simple vulnerabilities that can allow for information to fall into the wrong hands.

Moral of the story: be careful where you place your information, cautious with your passwords, and, as Penenberg would suggest, don’t invite a world class investigator to rummage through your life.

via John Hoda