Ever wonder how people get their email hacked? The people who wonder about this are usually the people who get hacked. Tweet this
Recently, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s hotmail address was compromised.
Paris Hilton and countless other celebrities fell victim to the same crime–and email hacking is a serious crime that involves theft, fraud, destruction of property, forgery and even counterfeiting.
Of course, there are dozens of ways to illegally gain access to someone’s email account, but here’s a method that involves a remarkably little technology and if you get hacked, you will be an accessory to the crime.
One part technology, three parts psychology
He repeatedly attempts to answer the most predictable security questions using a word that Ms. Hilton is likely to use. Paris, for example, may be more likely to use the name of her favorite doggie, Tinkerbell,” than she is to use the word, oh, “erudite.”
The perp keeps working email address/security question answers until he hits upon a winning combination. He’s got all the time in the world, since most people don’t change their password very often.
As you’ve probably noticed when you’re drunk and trying to log into your own email account, there’s no penalty for guessing wrong a thousand times, especially when trying to hack low-security platforms such as hotmail.
So passwords are often the names of pets or a favorite brand name. The answers to many security questions can be easily Googled or are often leaked–by you–in casual conversation.
Once the bad guy has access to your email, all kinds of bad things can happen.
Of course, the stranger will see all your personal correspondence, including all attachments such as photos you only wanted that special “sext” friend to see.
Email spammers can use your email address to send out millions of emails eventually causing your email to be blacklisted and forcing you to change your address. Ain’t that a pain in the keester?
Since 90% of us use the same password for email as we do our bank account, the bad guy gets to make a withdrawal from your account.
Finally, TMZ and the the tabloids pay big bucks for confidential information, especially if you’re a celebrity.
Best practices for not getting hacked
That’s why experts tell us to:
1) Choose complex passwords that have words, letters, and punctuation symbols.
2) Change passwords regularly.
3) Don’t use low-level e-mail platforms such as hotmail and aol.
You can’t fix stupid
I love comedian Ron White’s catch phrase, “You can’t fix stupid.”
A lot of smart people work to catch and punish the bad guys. Common penalties include loss of email account services, fines, and prison sentences.
If caught, it’s not the local police that pay you a visit, it’s the United States, Department of Justice and they come with theme music.
But even Bono can’t protect you if you’re careless or stupid.
Cover your assets. Your email address is valuable to you and lots of other people.
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