The recent news of the California hacker that stole nude photos from hacked emails highlights the fact that most people do not consider the importance of that security question that comes up when you go to reset your password. Many people do not give that much thought, but the story of George Bronk should give folks pause.
George Bronk is the 23 year old computer hacker that pled guilty to hacking email accounts, and then taking x-rated photos from the accounts and posting them to social media sites like Facebook. He is facing nearly 30 charges that range from felony impersonation to child pornography. (Officials allegedly found pictures on his computer of children as well) Amazingly, Bronk seems to have done all that damage by simply accessing email accounts through trial and error of sorts. It appears he would glean personal information about women from Facebook and other online resources, and then go into email accounts and guess their security question. Once you guess those correctly, then the rest kind of falls into place for the hacker.
They can then take that email information and gain control of other sites—like Facebook. Bronk is charged with taking the private, x-rated photos and posting them on the victim's Facebook page. He also is charged with sending the photos of up to twenty women to their friends and family via their email accounts.
Can you imagine intimate pictures and letters, as well as information suddenly being posted onto the Internet for the world to see? It happens more than we realize. A simple Internet search will bring up tons of hits about people doing this all over the world. Being a victim of online crime is becoming easier as the years go by, and this case is a perfect example of such. A simple email hacking can quickly turn even uglier and in some cases, even ruin careers, marriages and lives.
So how can we avoid becoming victims of these hackers? The key is thinking ahead. For one thing, we should always make sure the answer to a security question is unusual and unique much like your password should be. People do not consider the fact that a forgotten password can be retrieved or reset by simply answering a security question or two. For example, if the security question is “What is your mother's Maiden name?” then you best be careful. Chances are, the hacker can find that public information rather easily. How do you battle that?
The easiest way is to choose the most unusual security question and then think of the oddest answer you can. Your favorite dog could be “myfluffyfifi” instead of “Fifi” as an answer. Not many criminals are going to know the sweet little sayings about your pet, but they might be able to figure out the names by themselves. Other questions can be similarly adapted if you have no other options. Simply think of a way to answer the question but without being straightforward about it. Then, of course, you need to write down the password and security answers and put them somewhere that nobody will ever find them.
Rodney Southern is a freelance writer working for EduBook. He enjoys reading computer articles and the latest gadget reviews.