When to Freak Out About a Hacker Attack

This summer it seems every day brings dire news of a new data breach perpetrated by shadowy hackers. For those prone to panic, it might be enough to end in a hospital visit. But there's no need to freak out about every single attack reported by a hacker-obsessed media.

Everyone's getting hacked, but we must preserve our limited amount of fear for the security breaches that truly matter, or we risk being flattened into complacency by a constant drumbeat of hacking news. So, to cut through all the noise, here are the only situations in which it is worth freaking out about a hack attack:

If it involves Apple, no matter how small it is
27 usernames and passwords were reportedly stolen from an Apple server this week! Sure, 27 is a ludicrously small number, but what if the hackers gained access to the top secret plans for the iPad 7!?

If it involves a celebrity
Often, celebrity hacks are accompanied by a nude picture scandal (c.f. Blake Lively, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman), and who doesn't love those? Kim Kardashian was just hacked for what must be the 100th time and Amy Winehouse was hacked by rabid fans of the rapper Lil B'. These are all huge stories!

If Anonymous did it
The notorious hacktivist collective Anonymous are super hot right now, and they wear those creepy V for Vendetta masks! Scary!

If an offshoot of Anonymous did it
Dude, those Lulz Security Hackers that attacked Sony and the CIA were sort of like Anonymous, but they just didn't give a fuck. Really scary!

If it was done by hackers that have nothing to do with Anonymous
Whoa, there are hackers besides Anonymous? They're probably elite Russian cybercriminals or something! Even scary!

If the target is a company that already was hacked
Ha ha, Sony was hacked again this week? Didn't they learn their lesson? Idiots!

If the target is a company that's never been hacked
Wow, if it can happen to us, it can happen to anyone!

If the media did it
Rupert Murdoch's minions at the British tabloid News of the World have been accused of hacking a dead girl's cell phone. Talk about "hacks"! Ha.

If it happens to the media
Remember when those Lulz Security hackers attacked PBS and posted a fake story about Tupac being found alive? Can we trust anything on the internet!?

If it happens to a bank
Hackers just waltzed into Citibank's website and stole 200,000 bank account numbers! We must store all our money under a mattress.

If it involves Obama
Holy crap: hackers broke into a Fox News Twitter account and tweeted that Obama was dead! Secret Service: Run them over with a bulletproof SUV.

If it's not really a hack, but involves Obama
A lot of people reported this week that Obama's campaign website was "hacked" to make it seem like a fake event was being held by "commy Obama". It was actually just someone creating a joke page on the Obama campaign's user-generated site. But, still. Change your password!

[Image via Shutterstock]