Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stolen moments floating softly on the air

Today's Rick Wright subject heading comes from "Burning Bridges" off Obscured By Clouds. I keep trying to ignore the news but these Google alerts keep pulling me back!

Here's how some 133t hax0r cracked Sarah Palin's yahoo account.
The hacker guessed that Alaska's governor had met her husband in high school, and knew Palin's date of birth and home Zip code. Using those details, the hacker tricked Yahoo Inc.'s service into assigning a new password for Palin's e-mail account..
Someone was able to compromise Palin's yahoo mail account by knowing her date of birth and Zip code (information found easily on the internet) and where she met her husband (information easy to guess). That barely even qualifies as hacking -- it's like breaking into someone's luggage when they set their combination to 12345.

All the more reason to pick more "obscure" security questions for online accounts, espcially when you're conducting state government business on your Yahoo account.
The break-in of Palin's private account is especially significant because Palin sometimes uses non-government e-mail to conduct state business. Previously disclosed e-mails indicate her administration embraced Yahoo accounts as an alternative to government e-mail, which could possibly be released to the public under Alaska's Open Records Act.
Every company I've ever worked for has guidelines against using personal email accounts for work purposes. Even something as seemingly innocuous as forwarding an Excel spreadsheet to your gmail account so you can work on it at home is frowned upon. I would imagine that governments have even stricter rules about that sort of thing.

It doesn't excuse someone violating a candidate's privacy by hacking into her email account, but it says quite a lot about Palin's judgment and her ethics when she's running a state government from a Yahoo account.


Janet ID said...

But Steve, you know I was just without electricity (phone, email, Internet, access to the doggone building) at work for 3 days on account of the tail end of Hurricane Ike. So I used my Gmail account to do some stuff I couldn't get done otherwise, like contact some volunteers so they would know what the hell was going on, submit program proposals to the rec center by its Wednesday deadline, and ascertain the cancellation status of an event at which I was supposed to speak tonight (it was canceled). Never crossed my mind not to. Guess it's a damn good thing I'm not the governor of Alaska.

2fs said...

Worse that her reasons for doing so have nothing to do with, say, more efficiently serving her constituents, or problems w/the official e-mail, or even being w/o electricity like Our Janet. No, instead the whole reason for using Yahoo & the like was to evade detection under laws designed precisely to prevent this sort of governance-in-secret.

"Enough" indeed.