Why We Paid Someone To Hack Our Email

A network security consultant (better known as a hacker for hire) was provided with information pulled from a Men’s Health staffer’s Facebook profile. Our antihero’s goal: to crack that poor sap’s sensitive personal information, data and accounts. The shocking result: Our hacker for hire barely broke a sweat to get in.

He researched the staffer, called his e-mail provider, fudged through a series of security questions, and then changed the password. From there, he could have scoured our man’s e-mail, scammed his friends or… well, we’re afraid to know. The lesson we learnt: Stay safe by keeping an eye on these loose ends. Here’s how.
 
Be Selective About Who Can See You 
On Facebook, there are friends, acquaintances and make-believe hot babes. (Really! A 2010 experiment by the US tech firm Bitdefender found that 94 per cent of users  accepted a friend request from a beautiful woman they didn’t know.) And while you may not think your status updates are security breaches, they add up to a lot of valuable information about you. So, be strict. Unless you know someone personally, block him (or her) from seeing most of your information.
 
Use Smarter Secret Weapons
A hacker doesn’t have to guess your password – just clicking on “forgot your password?” can expose your list of secret questions. “If your question  is always your dog’s name, and its name is on your website – well, anybody can reset your password,”
says Lorrie Faith Cranor, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University in the US. If you can write your own questions, do it. If you can’t, provide answers that only you know. Better yet, invent fictional ones: Pretend your first dog was Sir Wagzalot.
 
Don't Be Electronically Promiscuous
Be wary of signing into personal accounts on public computers, says Justin Brookman, director of the consumer privacy project at the Center for Democracy & Technology in  the US. “Someone could have installed tracking software in the machine, then come along later to see what you were doing.” And that goes for public Wi-fi networks, too. “Your information is floating openly in the air,” Brookman says. If you must log onto a personal account on an open network, be sure the web address starts with “https” instead of “http”. The added “s” means the site uses SSL encryption to protect your privacy.

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