If you're one of those folks who believed that "it will never happen to me," when it comes to identity theft, the hack of Adobe's internal database isn't just bad news -- it's scary. It is increasingly inevitable that every business will suffer some kind of data breach -- and that each of us will be a victim of identity theft, possibly as a result of one of those breaches. Suddenly, just being careful about your own information is no longer enough to keep yourself safe.
If there is one universal truth about identity theft, it's that you'll never know how bad it is until long after you've been put in danger (if you ever really know). The Adobe hacking situation just illustrates the growing problem with identity theft and how ordinary people are often the real targets of hackers who target big companies.
It all started when Adobe reported the breach of more than 3 million customers' information (including password-identifying information), then upped the number to 38 million. Last week it got a whole lot worse when an outside company found the data of some 152 million Adobe customers on a site frequented by cybercriminals. That could mean that the Adobe hack is the largest in history.
But if that wasn't bad enough -- and make no mistake, it's bad enough, given how many people commonly reuse passwords across accounts and choose to use unsafe passwords like "password" -- Adobe spokeswoman Heather Edell confirmed to Reuters that "source code to several software titles" was stolen in the breach. So far, Adobe has only disclosed that the hackers took source code for its Cold Fusion (a web development application) and Acrobat (the program that builds .pdf documents), though it's been reported that at least Photoshop and Reader were similarly accessed.
Why You Should Care About Stolen Source Code
The obvious issue for Adobe with the theft of its source code is that their expensive products can now more easily be pirated. But beyond that, as previous hacks have shown, the cybercriminals who slithered away with their source code and their user database can use it to make much more than mere mischief -- especially as almost anyone who uses the Internet likely uses at least one Adobe product.
To understand how this kind source code theft could affect a company's customers, one need look no further than the challenges faced by RSA, a cybersecurity company whose database was breached in 2011. That breach resulted in the theft of source code related to their SecurID product -- the little electronic tokens that cough up a new passcode every time you try to log into an account. Though RSA announced they caught the cyberintruders in April 2011, it wasn't until June that they publicly admitted the hackers compromised their source code and replaced millions of tokens for its 25,000 customers.
In the meantime, at least one of RSA's customers, Lockheed Martin, experienced a breach made possible with the hacked tokens.