Lisbeth Salander: The Girl Who Kicked the U.S. Economy?

Do you believe that as a nation we spend too much time on trivial matters and people? You know. Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan and such. I do. And I guess that’s why I got such a yuck out of the media frenzy yesterday over Obama’s birth certificate.

Here’s from today’s NYT editorial, “A Certificate of Embarrassment“:

With sardonic resignation, President Obama, an eminently rational man, stared directly into political irrationality on Wednesday and released his birth certificate to history. More than halfway through his term, the president felt obliged to prove that he was a legitimate occupant of the Oval Office. It was a profoundly low and debasing moment in American political life.

The disbelief fairly dripped from Mr. Obama as he stood at the West Wing lectern. People are out of work, American soldiers are dying overseas and here were cameras to record him stating that he was born in a Hawaii hospital. It was particularly galling to us that it was in answer to a baseless attack with heavy racial undertones.

Mr. Obama practically begged the public to set aside these distractions, expressing hope that his gesture would end the “silliness” and allow a national debate about budget priorities. It won’t, of course.

No. It won’t, of course. And I understand that for many this is not a trivial matter. But folks. C’mon. Couldn’t we now move on instead of debating the authenticity of the birth certificate. There really are bigger fish to fry.

Here’s one. And I know this may sound trivial. It’s the ability of computer hackers to get almost any information they want — from any organization, including government, business, education and so on. Have you checked your online bank account yet today?

Does that scare you? It does me — because beyond the personal issues involved, this strikes me as a potential form of terrorism that could cripple the U.S. — if not the world — economy.

Here’s the latest adventure involving Sony and its PlayStation as reported in the NYT, “Sony Says PlayStation Hacker Got Personal Data“:

Last week, Sony’s online network for the PlayStation suffered a catastrophic failure through a hacking attack. And since then, the roughly 77 million gamers worldwide like Mr. Miller who have accounts for the service have been unable to play games with friends through the Internet or to download demos of new games.

Then, on Tuesday, after several days of near silence, Sony said that as a result of the attack, an “unauthorized person” had obtained personal information about account holders, including their names, addresses, e-mail addresses, and PlayStation user names and passwords. Sony warned that other confidential information, including credit card numbers, could have been compromised, warning customers through a statement to “remain vigilant” by monitoring identity theft or other financial loss.

Law-enforcement officials said Tuesday that Sony had reported the breach to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Diego, which specializes in computer crime.

The breach comes after an incident earlier this month, when Epsilon, a marketing firm that handles e-mail lists, suffered a security breach that put millions of people’s e-mail addresses at risk. In some instances, customers’ names were also stolen. Last year, an AT&T breach exposed the e-mail addresses of at least 100,000 owners of the Apple iPad.

And here’s from USA Today:

The external hack of Sony’s PlayStation Network represents one of the largest data breaches ever, security experts suggest.

Dr. Paul Judge, chief research officer and vice president of Barracuda Networks, says the PSN intrusion is “arguably the second largest data breach ever,” trailing only 2009’s Heartland Payment data breach, which impacted 175,000 merchants and millions of payment card transactions per month.

“The most troubling thing about this breach is the breadth of data that was leaked: name, address, passwords, purchase history and possibly credit card numbers,” says Judge. “This provides potential ammunition for almost any type of attack.”

That gets me to Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth is one of the main characters in the popular trilogy by Stieg Larsson. She’s “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.”

And she is a computer hacker — who along with her friends and associates can find out just about anything about anyone in any place.

I wonder how many real-life Lisbeth Salanders there are out there — sitting much like this pajama-clad citizen journalist pecking away at the computer in the dark of the early a.m.

And I wonder if some day we won’t be reading in the NYT or elsewhere about a real-life Lisbeth Salander: The Girl Who Kicked the U.S. Economy?

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