The Most Important Lesson from Mat Honan’s Epic Hacking

Apple LogoLast week, tech writer Mat Honan suffered a devastating hack of his email, Twitter, and iCloud accounts.  The hacker was able to remotely delete all the data on his iPhone and MacBook – files that he may never get back.  Why did the hacker choose him?  Simply because he had a short Twitter username.

This brings up a very important lesson for the average computer user.  This is something that could save you from the misery of what Mat is going through.  This is the difference between being a victim or being a winner.  Want to know what it is?

It’s not to “secure your online accounts,” although this is always a good idea.  It’s true that enabling two-factor authentication would have saved Mat’s Gmail and Twitter accounts, but it wouldn’t have stopped them from wiping his MacBook.

Apple could let users disable the remote wipe feature on Find My Mac.  That would have stopped it.

However, the hacker used social engineering and impersonated him, so the real failures are Amazon and Apple’s security procedures.

In other words, Mat didn’t do anything wrong.  And yet he is paying the consequences.

Nope, the lesson here is…

Backup Your Data!

The real travesty is that Mat wasn’t backing up his data.  So now all his documents, emails, and most importantly – photos of his infant daughter during her first year of life are gone.  Had he been doing regular backups with Time Machine or other Mac backup software, he wouldn’t have this problem.

These days our devices are increasingly connected to one another.  Adding an application or bookmark on your computer can instantly be synced to your phone, tablet, or other device.  This also means our data is much more vulnerable.  If one account or device is compromised, then they all are.

This is all the more reason for making regular backups of your data.  Choose backup software that is easy to use and has all the features you want.  And then use it!

Hackings such as this may not always be preventable, but the resulting loss of family photos is.  Mat is now a poster child for backing up our computers.  Let us learn from his mistakes.

Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund is the founder and editor-in-chief of He enjoys attending music festivals, whitewater kayaking on the American River, and board game nights in his free time.

Geoff Akerlund