If Palin's e-mail can be cracked, yours can too

CNET Blog Network contributor Matt Asay asks: If we're only as safe as we are unknown, is that really security?

Putting aside the rectitude of using a public e-mail service like Yahoo Mail for government business, as Alaska governor and U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has done, if her e-mail was so easily hacked, how private do you think yours is?

The answer? Your only hope may be to keep so low key that no one cares about hacking your e-mail.

I'm willing to bet that most public figures keep Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, etc. accounts, though most probably don't use them for public duty. Is it really as easy as wanting to crack them to be able to do so? The methods used are not yet known, but the hackers wouldn't have had much time. Despite it being somewhat common knowledge in Alaska that Gov. Palin uses private Yahoo e-mail accounts regularly, the news doesn't appear to have hit the national stage until the last week or so.

In other words, as soon as hackers had interest, they got access. This should be of concern to anyone using an e-mail service like Gmail or Yahoo Mail. Is our e-mail privacy only as durable as our anonymity? Security through obscurity, indeed.


Update: Ars Technica has details on a possible first-person account of how Governor Palin's email was hacked.

Tags:
Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

    Join the discussion

    Conversation powered by Livefyre

    Show Comments Hide Comments
    Latest Galleries from CNET
    Tech industry's high-flying 2014
    Uber's tumultuous ups and downs in 2014 (pictures)
    The best and worst quotes of 2014 (pictures)
    A roomy range from LG (pictures)
    This plain GE range has all of the essentials (pictures)
    Sony's 'Interview' heard 'round the world (pictures)