Can’t log into your email account? Twitter? Want to look at your spouses email? Need to get into an employees personal email account to see if he is stealing? If you surf the web for “Black Hat Hackers” or “Hire a Hacker” you can find a long list of people willing to break into these accounts. There are websites to “Crack Passwords”. Hackers troll discussion boards, some here on this site, offering their services. But should you hire them, or should you be worried someone else will hire them to get you?
Hiring a hacker to break into an online account is most likely illegal in every case. There are a range of laws to protect online accounts from illegal access. So, assume to begin with, if you hire one of these services you are most likely breaking the law. Also assume any discussion posts talking about how some hacker helped catch a cheating spouse, that the post is likely from the hacker simple setting bait to get money from you. In a rare case, you might have some rights to access data, but its best to talk to your lawyer first, and perhaps get a court order.
The first clue that a hacker is likely going to cheat you out of your money, is it is actually difficult to “Brute Force” guess a users password. It can be done with time, though don’t bet on it. But lets say you still go ahead. Do you really want to know? If you have ever had to read through another persons emails, perhaps as a manager in a company doing a forensic analysis, you know it’s an unpleasant process. It is easy to misinterpret meaning in an email and reach incorrect conclusions. It’s frankly rare for such an investigation to actually yield anything of value. Once your done, you are going to feel like a creep. Bottom line, do not break into other people’s accounts.
Perhaps more important, how do you protect yourself from a hacker for hire?
- Use a good password, once per site. Employ a password manager.
- Delete old emails, both received and sent. It is cool to keep every last email, but really is it worth it?
- Turn on two-factor authentication for all your online services like Gmail and Dropbox
- Close old accounts you no longer use, but delete all the content first so it’s flushed from the system
- Where possible, use an alternate login in idea. If everyone knows you online as firstname.lastname@example.org, get an alternate account like email@example.com for login purposes. Never share the account id with anyone you know
There are White Hat or ethical hackers, who will help you analyze your accounts and situation to protect yourself. A key way to identify a good hacker is they will refuse to help you break into another persons account. A white hat hacker will identify themselves, have a linked in profile, and other public presence that proves they are real.