It has recently come to light that some of the town websites hosted by the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library have been or are currently hacked.
To the average Internet user, computer hacking evokes images of Hollywood-style digital theft, usually of epic proportions, along with a strong anti-establishment message to let people know what they’ve done.
The reality is that small, civic websites such as the towns of New Glasgow and Stellarton, are just what a hacker is looking for. If you visit the site, nothing seems amiss, which is exactly how a hacker wants things to appear.
The sites, with its security breached, becomes a springboard for infiltration elsewhere. Visitors to these sites unwittingly become party to the hacker’s goal.
It’s worth noting that for a tourist area like Pictou County, a town website is often the first glimpse a potential visitor will have into what the area has to offer.
What kind of message does it send to potential visitors and tourists to Pictou County if our town websites aren’t secure?
Opening these websites is potentially similar to inviting a thief into your home to look through your finances and personal info.
If you visit a site to get information, make a purchase or look at photos, you give that website the benefit of the doubt that you aren’t putting your computer or yourself in harms way. It’s not something most of us even consider; we take it for granted.
Perhaps the worst part is that no one thought that the public needed to know. Hopefully, this news is a wakeup call to any organization that has a website. Hackers are constantly challenging and succeeding in tearing down even the most secure websites.
Band-Aid solutions are not solutions. If it requires a complete overhaul of the website or server or third party intervention, so be it.
These civic websites are funded with taxpayer money. It begs the question: are you getting all that you’re paying for?