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Late Friday, Wired writer Mat Honan ran into a digital buzzsaw as his iCloud, Gmail and Twitter accounts were compromised in rapid succession. The hackers did a tremendous amount of collateral damage along the way, spewing racist and homophobic tweets on Honan's account plus the Gizmodo Twitter account (linked to his). Worse, they proceeded to wipe all the data from his iPhone, iPad and his Mac laptop via Find My iPhone and Find My Mac.
Honan has now posted the first in a series of articles on Wired detailing what happened, and how the hackers were able to take advantage of critical bits of exposed information on different services to get into his accounts. The target, apparently, was always his Twitter account -- the three-letter @mat handle was irresistible to the hackers, and they wanted to use it to wreak mayhem.
The chain of calamity began with the hackers finding Honan's Gmail address via his linked personal webpage off the @mat Twitter account and assuming correctly that it was the email address for his Twitter account. With that detail, they could go to the account recovery page for Gmail and -- without actually attempting to break into his account -- see a partial email address "m....firstname.lastname@example.org" already configured for account recovery. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess what the missing letters are there, and once they knew Honan's Gmail password reset would be heading for iCloud, they knew they had an easy path ahead.
Honan pinpoints this bit of personal info as the key to the entire attack. "If I had some other account aside from an Apple email address, or had used two factor authentication for Gmail, everything would have stopped here. But using the .Me email account as a backup told the hacker I had an AppleID account, which meant I was vulnerable to being
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