A couple of days ago it was revealed that email accounts of six members of the friends and family of former President George H.W. Bush were hacked into and posted online. In addition to the posted emails, photographs including one that shows former President Bush in his bed during his recent hospitalization, were also put up on line. Among the Bush family friends whose email accounts were hacked was CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz, who is a longtime friend and golf partner of the former president. Although none of the emails stolen and posted publicly on the Internet are particularly embarrassing, the hacking again illustrates how vulnerable we all are to having our privacy invaded and the need for vigilance in protecting the security of our information.
Hacking into an email account can be quite easy because most people do not take sufficient precautions to protect their email accounts. Obtaining an email address is a relatively easy thing to do. Once a hacker has obtained the email address, the next step in the process is to go the account. Of course, access will be denied because it is likely that the hacker does not know the password, however, here is the fatal flaw in the process. By merely answering a security question, the hacker is then able to get access to the account or even change the password. I don’t know if this was how the hacker of the Bush emails accomplished his hacking, but it was the way that the hacker of Sarah Palin’s email account was able to get access to her email account. All he did was come up with the answer to “where did I meet my husband?” A quick trip to Wikipedia provided the answer to that question – Wasilla High School. You may feel confident and secure that the answer to your security question is not as readily available as that of a famous person, however, don’t be so sure. Many people put out a lot of personal information on Facebook and other social media such that it may not be difficult for an enterprising hacker to obtain the answer to your security question. My advice is to use an illogical and nonsensical answer to your security question, such as “What is my favorite color?” with the answer being “seven.” It is just silly enough for you to remember it and it is highly unlikely that a hacker would be able to guess it.