Hacking the Director of the CIA is Easier than You Think
by Jason Hanson
A few months back, the personal email account of the director of the CIA was hacked. His personal information was stolen, along with
numerous confidential emails. He wasn’t hacked, however, by a foreign government or organized crime syndicate — he was hacked by an
American high school student. How did the kid do it?
The same way I would’ve done it: through psychological manipulation. It’s far easier to gain access to confidential information through elicitation, better known as “social engineering,” than through brute force or computer wizardry.
This is why it’s vitally important to be aware of how this kind of manipulation gets deployed.Through some simple awareness of the principles involved – and
by taking a couple practical steps – you won’t be so easy to be taken advantage of.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Performing a Hack
So if you want to hack the director of the CIA, where do you start? Here’s how the American high school student did it. First, he went online and did a reverse lookup of the director’s cellphone number and discovered that he used Verizon. Next, he called Verizon and pretended to be one of
their technicians who needed help with a customer’s cellphone.
The Verizon customer service representative then gave the “technician” the director’s four-digit pin, his email address, and the last four numbers
on his credit card. Once the high school kid had the director’s email address, which belonged to an AOL account, he called AOL customer service and told
them he’d forgotten his password and needed it reset.
AOL customer service asked a series of questions, such as the last four digits of his credit card, and because he could answer them correctly, the teen
hacker was able to reset the director’s email password — thereby gaining access to his email account.
When you want to find out all sorts of private details about a person’s life, this is the most reliable way of doing it. This is how it’s done in the intelligence
business and in the criminal world. Why is this method so effective?
The Vulnerability of Trust
The reason this type of “hacking” works is that we live in a high-trust society where most people believe in being honest and polite. Criminals know this, and they like to take advantage of it. It’s why so many people are fooled by phone and Internet scams. We take others on their word and often don’t question people enough, as we’re afraid to offend them. But if we’re to avoid being swindled, we need to challenge people when they’re asking too much information
If you find yourself in a situation where someone is poking around and asking you a bunch of personal questions, don’t be afraid to walk away or straight out tell them it’s none of their business.
What to Do
However, as noted in the story above, when it comes to the Internet, sometimes you can get hacked without having anything to do with it. This is why you want to create a separate email address that you only use for businesses such as the cellphone company, Internet company, cable, etc. That way, if that account gets hacked, none of your personal emails will be exposed because they’re on another account. To be extra safe, I would use the email service provider Hushmail, which encrypts your emails. Another thing you may want to consider is to have a separate cellphone number that you give out to businesses. You can easily buy a flip phone from Wal-Mart for $10 with a plan that costs only a couple of dollars a month.
What you don’t want is to have your smartphone details given out, because most people keep pictures, passwords, and other personal information
on them. We’ve seen how dangerous this is when celebrities’ cellphones have been hacked and nude photos have been exposed. The bottom line is if you set up a Hushmail account and get an inexpensive flip phone, you’ll be more secure than the vast majority of Americans.
Just don’t forget to keep tight-lipped if someone comes around asking you unusual questions, because that’s still the No. 1 way to “hack” someone