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Long IslandColumnists

It's a hacker's world, don't believe in it

That dumb column you thought I wrote? Nope. Syrian hackers. The AP Twitter feed wasn't the first credible dispatch to be hijacked.

Media, business and government -- we've all been wringing our hands since The Associated Press (Altered Post?), gold standard of fact-based reporting, announced that the White House had been bombed and the president injured, sending the Dow into a 143-point bungee dive.

There'd been no explosion. Barack Obama was fine. The pro-Assad Syrian Electronic Army claimed credit for the mayhem, tittering like a couple of mid-20th-century 8-year-olds who'd just phoned a clueless housewife and asked: "Is your refrigerator running? It is? Then, you'd better go catch it."

Ha. Ha.

Malicious electronic intrusions are a cause of growing concern. A phony news bulletin is one thing. But what about some crackpot with nuclear codes or a fraudster intent on draining your checking account?

Still, there's an upside here, too, though it got no attention at all this past week. In an era of provably porous digital security, no one can really be held responsible for anything at all.

How do you know it was me who sent that drunken text, that compromising Weiner photo, that reply-all email?

For all you know, it could have been Syrian hackers. In a world where no code is unbreakable, we can never be certain who's talking to us.

The smart stuff? Of course that was me. The rest of it could have been anyone.


1. Changed password.

2. Disguised voice.

3. Encrypted data.

4. Set up alter-egos.

5. Wait, remind me who I am!


ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Given all the real crime, should undercover Nassau detectives really be out getting "unlicensed massages"? And what do they mean by undercover, anyway?. . . Suffolk cops are getting volunteers drunk for a safe-boating training exercise? Will a similar strategy be tried in the narc unit? . . . Why should cerebral palsy stop Kevin Michell from wrestling? The Hicksville Meteors' seventh-grader (now 1-0) decided it shouldn't, and it didn't . . . Ducks Unlimited -- or Donations Unlimited? The Eastern Suffolk chapter of the waterfowl-habitat conservation group is taking national bows for its fundraising prowess . . . Did you hear that North Fork teens drink more alcohol than most American high school students? Don't agree? Then go argue -- soberly! -- with Greenport's North Fork Alliance . . . Don't any Republicans want to run for East Hampton supervisor? Will an all-Dem field undermine Town Hall's famous rancor? . . . At Brookhaven Lab's new Interdisciplinary Science Building, the physicists, chemists and mathematicians will actually talk to each other? In whose language? . . . Temple Beth Sholom found a roommate on Craigslist? And the Spanish-speaking Ministerio Jesucristo Vive (Jesus Christ Lives Church) is now happily sharing the Smithtown synagogue? Hasn't anyone around here heard of dogmatic inflexibility?

THE NEWS IN SONG: Brad Paisley's so much cooler "Online,"


Might as well have a baby, if only out of Long Island pride. Nassau University Medical Center just hit the top 10 percent in a maternity-care survey from Healthgrades, stacking the East Meadow hospital against 4,500 others nationwide. Research tracks how the staff handled more than two dozen common birth complications. NuHealth president Arthur Gianelli says the ranking reflects a "growing reputation to ensure successful outcomes for our patients."

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