Are you a ´casual hacker´?

08 Sep 2011


Here's a little moral dilemma for you: If you knew the Facebook password of your friend or partner, would you sign into their account and have a leaf through their messages?

Would Charles consider sneaking a look at Camilla's emails? Hmmmm…

No? Well I suppose I'll have to believe you. But a study has found that one in 10 people are not as moral as you claim to be.

These casual hackers admitted accessing someone else's work or personal emails, or finding their way into their way into the social networking accounts of a friend or family member.

Most people claimed it was just for fun - we're not talking about swindling millions of pounds here - but others said it was to check up on the other person.

We've all had the burning desire to know a little bit more about someone's private life in the past, whether you suspect your best mate of having a fling with your sister or you just wonder if your boss is planning to leave any time soon.

But we're so used to knowing everything these days, it's becoming more difficult for us to hold off our nosey urges. As a nation we are obsessed with reality television and stalking our friends on Facebook. Now almost all adults have a mobile phone, it's even harder to escape the gaze of your friends and family.

So it's not surprising people are turning to casual hacking. This isn't necessarily a modern trend - people have been secretly opening letters by holding them over the steam from a kettle for generations - but the wealth of information that can be gleaned from it is incredible.

Instead of just finding the contents of one item of mail (which would probably be a boring circular, if my mail is anything to go by), we can access years of communication, neatly archived and all with a search facility to get to the good stuff quicker.

OK, so if you really aren't a casual hacker, what can you do to avoid becoming a victim of the snoopers?

Your first line of defence should be a strong password that even your best mates won't be able to guess.

Facebook allows you to ask for email notifications each time someone logs in from a destination that hasn't been used before. So you'll know if a strange computer has delved into your messages at 3am.

It's also possible to make your Twitter feed private, so you can control who sees your updates. Go and check out your settings now!

Alternatively, you could leave it as it is should your life on the internet be so dull that nobody could possibly want to know what's going on… At least the casual hackers will leave disappointed.

Have you ever casually hacked into a friend's email account, or are you not nearly that nosey? Comment below or tweet @DixonsinTheKnow