How Much Could a Hacker Find Out From Your Name and Email Address?

Consumer programme X-Ray recently carried out an interesting experiment.

4 volunteers gave an IT security expert their name and email address.  Armed with just those 2 pieces of information, he was able to find out the following:

  • 2 of their mobile phone numbers.
  • An alternative email address used by one of the volunteers.
  • A previous job someone had worked in.
  • A post code.
  • An answer to one of their secret security questions.

In 2 instances the information he unearthed would have allowed him to take over their accounts, including an Amazon account.  Now there’s a reason for deleting your payment method after every transaction.

Here are a few ways you can protect yourself online:

  • Never use as a password or the answer to a security question any piece of information that you have ever published.
  • Choose strong password (more info).
  • Avoid posting your email address, mobile phone number, address or post code online.
  • Do not advertise when you are away from home.
  • See also The Perils of Social Media.

You can see the X-Ray experiment about 13 ½ minutes into the programme.