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Internet Security

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Yesterday, the country's most prominent political tweeter, Green Party Senator, Dan Boyle, discovered his Twitter account had been hacked and messages sent out to his 3000-plus following. Online communications consultant, Damien Mullely, gives tips on how to avoid this happening to you!

Damien Mullely, Online communications consultant

How can 'hacking' happen?

In three ways:

1. There are programs available that can be used to try and get access to your personal information, it (the program) can have a 'dictionary effect' and it can make up a range of passwords and then hack into your own password. This was more popular years ago.

2. You could be offered a link to a site which purports to be Facebook or Twitter, but is not really either. Some of these links might say something like, 'if you want to see a video or a picture of yourself on this, then log in'. Once you have logged in, it will take all your details and keep them. This is the most popular way at the moment.

3. Another way that it can happen is in internet cafés. Someone could have a program downloaded in an internet café, which will record any personal details/passwords that you enter. If you're abroad and just popping into an internet café, be careful about what passwords you're using.

What are the dangers of being hacked?

The big danger is that hackers can get access to personal information, credit card details and bank account information. The danger is that people can get access to your password, and you might have the same password for different e-mail addresses, which might include personal information like bank details..

The popular website '' was hacked into recently, what happened there?

There was a security loophole and a hacker got access to a database which included a rage of user names. The hacker also got access to e-mail addresses. The passwords were encrypted and not accessible, but there was a danger that the hacker could get access to the passwords as well, which might have been the same passwords on users' e-mail addresses and that could have contained details of their bank accounts etc were very pro-active about it and advised their users to change their passwords.

Could Anti-Virus software help to stop hacking?

Yes, it can help. It can stop programs that you don't want being down loaded in the background when you're on your computer. Updated antivirus software can also inform you if a certain website isn't trustworthy and to stay away from it.

What tips can you give to people?

  • Use numbers and characters on your password - this will make it more difficult for a hacking program to hack into it.
  • Change your pass word on a regular basis.
  • Don't use the same password for your e-mail address and your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • Check the address bar. If it does not say etc, then be wary of it. If you're asked do you want to see a picture or video of yourself, be wary!

For more information on internet safety, go to: