Earlier this week, Susan Atrach was charged with eleven felonies related to her hacking into email accounts of actress and singer Selena Gomez and posting personal private media from the accounts online. Atrach will be arraigned on August 27th in Los Angeles. It is being reported that Atrach was able to get access to Gomez’s email accounts by answering Gomez’s security question which enabled her to change the password. The information necessary to answer the security question was readily available online. This same tactic was used years ago by David Kernell to hack into Sarah Palin’s email account by answering the security question as to where she met her husband. Kernell obtained the answer, Wasilla High School, through Wikipedia. While most of us are not as famous as Selena Gomez and Sarah Palin, there is still much personal information about us that is available online that can be used by a hacker to answer common security questions and gain access to your email or other online accounts. In fact, many of us are at fault by putting up online through social media too much personal information that can be used by criminals to hack into our accounts or make us victims of identity theft.
An easy solution to the problem of the answers to security questions being too readily available on the Internet is to make the answer to your security question nonsensical. For instance, if your security question is what is your mother’s maiden name, you can pick something ridiculous, such as “firetruck” as the answer. No hacker will ever be able to find the answer to this security question online and it is so silly that you will remember it.
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