Just how hackable is your digital life?

By Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, PC World |  Security, privacy

When Wired News reporter Mat Honan had his digital life hackedand subsequently, virtually wiped outin August, the significant loss of data he endured wasn't the scariest part of the experience. Much more terrifying was the method by which hackers drilled into his digital accounts.

Using clever social engineering exploits, the hackers posed as Honan and succeeded in extracting key bits of personal information from Amazon and Apple customer support. With the critical data in hand, the hackers then locked Honan out of his Google account, commandeered his Twitter stream, seized control of his Apple ID number, and wiped his computing devices clean.

It was momentarily life-wrecking, at least.

If a hacker wanted to ruin your lifewhether by identity theft or by a simple Honan-esque data wipehow difficult would that objective be to achieve? The answer is that it's likely a lot easier than you think.

Are you an easy target?

According to a recent Harris Interactive poll commissioned by Dashlane, a company that manages passwords and personal data, most online Americans are concerned that their personal data might be used online without their knowledge. Approximately 88% of the 2208 adults surveyed cited being at least "somewhat concerned," and 29% claimed to be "extremely concerned." In addition, three out of five respondents were worried that they were vulnerable to being hacked.

John Harrison, a group manager at Symantec Security and Response, says that people should be concerned, because they're sharing more than they think they are.

Because social networks, public records, and high-profile security breaches are so prevalent, a lot of potentially sensitive information is just floating around the Internet.

"Each piece of information adds to the puzzle," Harrison says. "We don't throw everything out there at once, but it eventually comes together. For example, you may not put your full birthday on Facebook, but it's not difficult for someone to find out what year you graduated from high school and put two and two together."

In other words, you may not think you're sharing too muchjust a snippet here and a snippet therebut to a hacker, you're building an easily harvested online profile.

Protect yourself the easy way

Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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