The answer, it would seem, is no, at least in the world of digital information. Before creating Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg hacked through Harvard’s security system to set up a prank website. Ten years later, it’s not just Ivy League schools that are in danger. Even big-league telecommunications companies like Norway’s Telenor are being hit.
Fifty-three percent state-owned Telenor employs over 31,000 people and last year earned about 18 billion US dollars. The company is one of the world’s largest mobile phone operators and also has its hand in international broadcasting and machine-to-machine technology. Being so large, it has an entire department devoted to cyber security, yet even some of its top executives were hit by malicious data-mining viruses via email from what looked like trusted sources.
“’It’s completely clear that those behind (the attack) were able to download information,” Rune Dyrlie, security director for Telenor Norge, told Aftenposten. “There’s no doubt we have lost data,’” says an article from Views and News from Norway.
The attack was troublesome enough that the company reported it to police officials, a move not often made by victims of cyber theft. The article also states that “the high-tech spies reportedly emptied the executives’ machines of e-mail, all types of computer files, passwords and other personal data. Aftenposten reported that the hackers also managed to take over remote control of the machines.”
Even though the attack was discovered quickly and further activity was prevented, such a breach gives credence to the question: Is anything safe?
On an individual scale, this may not be as pressing of an issue. Individuals are not as likely as corporation executives to have the kind of information that hackers and virus-writers of this caliber desire and are therefore less likely to warrant an attack of this magnitude. However, this ought to be an example for other larger corporations to sit up and take note of how security was breached and how to keep it from happening to themselves.