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The Weakest Link in Cybersecurity Isn't Human, It’s the Infrastructure

Welcome to Motherboard's third annual hacking week.
Image: Cathryn Virginia

The Weakest Link is Motherboard's third, annual theme week dedicated to the future of hacking and cybersecurity. Follow along here.

Listen to Motherboard’s new hacking podcast, CYBER, here.

When someone gets hacked, many people impulsively blame the victim. We’re conditioned to think that they did something wrong; we presume that they had a bad password, reused passwords across websites, didn’t turn on two-factor authentication, or otherwise made some sort of mistake that a more security-conscious person wouldn’t have.


The truth is often a little more complicated. While there are of course things you can do to make yourself less of a target and to harden your accounts, the fact remains that hackers are increasingly exploiting systematic failures by large companies, and that there is often little or nothing the average user can do to prevent a breach. The business models of many companies rely on monetizing and selling user data; internet of things and new startups rarely take security as seriously as they should; massive hacks of companies like Equifax and T-Mobile make our social security numbers less private than they ever have before.

The “weakest link” in cybersecurity is often no longer the human, it’s the infrastructure that increasingly controls our data without giving us a chance to do anything about it. In this brave new digital world, what can you really do to protect yourself?

With that in mind, our third annual hacking week explores that weakest link—the point of failure in the hacks we see in the news. The slate we have this year is extraordinary: We’ll have some scoops and features we’ve been planning and reporting for months, as well as opinion pieces by infosec professionals who explain how the internet’s design is failing users. We’re also launching Motherboard’s first hacking-focused podcast, CYBER. The pilot episode is about SIM hijacking, in which hackers steal a victim’s cell phone number and use it to get into their other accounts—and which consumers can do very little to stop on their own.

It’s not all bad news, of course, and there are steps you can take to prevent or minimize the effects of many of the most common attacks. With that in mind, we did a big refresh of The Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked, our comprehensive infosec guide. It’s got lots of new information, and we’ve taken out or updated recommendations we made last year that are no longer best practices. This week we’ll also be publishing subject specific how-to guides every day; we’ll explain why the iPod Touch is one of the most secure devices you can possibly buy, how to wipe your devices clean before selling or recycling them, how to tell if you’ve been hacked, and more. And it’s finally time for a new episode of our animated series Greatest Moments in Hacking History.

We’re really excited about what we have planned for you this week. You can follow along here. And as always, we love to hear from you. You can get in touch via email or Signal.