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News

Celebrity e-mail hack prompts password security warning

Sophos : 28 April, 2009  (Technical Article)
Sophos is warning e-mail users to take care in securing their password information including secret questions after another famous person has fallen foul to mischievous hackers
IT security and control firm Sophos is reminding computer users of the importance of properly securing their online email accounts by not choosing easy-to-guess 'secret questions', following news that hackers have broken into Salma Hayek's email account and released images of her private communications.

According to reports, the Oscar-nominated actress had her MobileMe account hacked after cybercriminals reset her account password by correctly entering her date of birth and guessing her secret question (reportedly the name of her most famous film role). As a result, the world now knows details about what iPhone applications Salma Hayek has download from the Apple iTunes Store, when she has arranged to have her Japanese face massage, and that her billionaire French husband François-Henri Pinault pays her bills.

'It's becoming more common for internet hackers to think it's funny to break into a celebrity's account and expose their private conversations, but let's not forget that Salma Hayek has been the victim of a crime,' said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. 'The lesson here is that no-one, whether a Hollywood celebrity or a Cricklewood hairdresser, should leave their email accounts poorly defended. Hayek's mistake was to leave her MobileMe account accessible to anyone who could search for her 'secret answers' on Wikipedia.'

Sophos experts note that Salma Hayek is the latest in a string of celebrities, including Paris Hilton and Sarah Palin, to have their email accounts hacked.

'The public should see Salma's security slip-up as a warning to be very careful when choosing their 'secret answers' in case they ever need to reset their passwords,' continued Cluley. 'Too many people when they are asked 'What was your mother's maiden name?' or 'Tell us the name of your favourite pet' choose to answer honestly with information that is often a matter of public record, or can be easily found out by visiting their Facebook or other social networking profile. Instead, when asked for this information, choose something memorable but bizarre - the key thing is to make it something that no-one else will be able to guess. If it means claiming that your mother's maiden name was Zaphod Beeblebrox - do it!'
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