What you can learn from the Palin email attack

So, Whitehouse-hopeful Sarah Palin has had her email account attacked by hackers. It’s no surprise that some people might want to do this; after all she represents an extreme viewpoint in the USA.

What is surprising and troubling is that a public figure had two email accounts on a public email service such as Yahoo. All of these services, Yahoo Mail, HotMail and so on are easy to break into. All you need are a few details, which any of us can easily glean from social networking sites and bingo – you’re in. Secure, they are not.

So why would anyone want to have an email account with such sites? At first sight it seems a good idea to be on a “popular” service; having a Yahoo Mail account was probably “sold” to Mrs Palin as a great idea that would make her seem like “one of the people”. Tosh.

Another reason people have these email accounts is that they are free. Boy, that’s a good deal – unlimited email without payment – whoopee…! But Mrs Palin is paying now in lost reputation; that’s costing much more than a few dollars for a secure email address.

Remember, any “public” email service like Hotmail, Googlemail, Yahoo Mail and so on, is open to easy abuse. The security systems are weak and your business risks a great deal if you use them. The problem for most of us is the fact that we need a Googlemail address to access the variety of Google services we all use. That’s an even bigger security risk because by breaking into your Googlemail address, hackers can also blog on “your behalf”, create diary entries for you, delete diary entries from your calendar, create documents in your name and a whole host of other possibilities. It’s time to review your online security and think about whether you actually need Google and its like at all. Probably not.

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