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Hacked! How to protect your email accountsAugust 7, 2012 @ 4:44 pm (Updated: 2:08 pm - 8/9/12 )
Your digital life disappears. Poof. Your email accounts, photos, contacts, and documents are all gone.
If that can happen to a tech journalist, what chance do the rest of us have in protecting our online accounts? And how safe is anything we're storing in the cloud?
Wired journalist Mat Honan writes about how hackers broke into his accounts. Here's how the "epic hacking" happened, according to Honan.
"In the space of one hour, my entire digital life was destroyed. First my Google account was taken over, then deleted. Next my Twitter account was compromised, and used as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages. And worst of all, my AppleID account was broken into, and my hackers used it to remotely erase all of the data on my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.
In many ways, this was all my fault. My accounts were daisy-chained together. Getting into Amazon let my hackers get into my Apple ID account, which helped them get into Gmail, which gave them access to Twitter. Had I used two-factor authentication for my Google account, it’s possible that none of this would have happened, because their ultimate goal was always to take over my Twitter account and wreak havoc. Lulz.
Had I been regularly backing up the data on my MacBook, I wouldn’t have had to worry about losing more than a year’s worth of photos, covering the entire lifespan of my daughter, or documents and e-mails that I had stored in no other location.
Those security lapses are my fault, and I deeply, deeply regret them."
A few tips from what Honan learned the hard way.
1) Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. Yes, it's easy to remember. It's also easy for hackers to try one password on multiple accounts and platforms.
2) Enable two-factor authentication with your accounts. It is what the name implies, but a lot of people skip this process in the set up of accounts. Here's how to set it up for Google's gmail. Other email services, such as Yahoo, do the same thing. It reduces the chances of having the personal information in your Google account stolen by someone else because hackers would have to not only get your password and your username, they'd have to get a hold of your phone to alter your account.
3) Skip the basic security questions like "What’s your mother's maiden name?" or "Where did you go to high school?" because that information is easier to get than you think. It's best to make up a question, and include an answer only you would know. Or, if you opt for the standard question, come up with an answer (lie) that you'll remember which can't be Googled or Binged.
Amazon confirmed today it has closed a loophole that helped hackers gain control of a Honan's digital life. That means Amazon customers will no longer be allowed to change account settings like email and credit card data over the phone.
By LINDA THOMAS
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