I just learned some scary information about how easy it is to hack into someone's email or other online accounts. As bloggers (or Facebookers, College Alumni) etc we put a lot of information out into the ether that someone malicious could use against us or our family.
In a Scientific American article How I Stole Someone's Identity, author Herbert H. Thompson writes about just how easy it was to gain access to accounts just by knowing a few items about someone such as their name, hobby, and where they work. EEK. Getting an email address can provide even more info.
You can listen to the author on the Talk of the Nation radio show on September 23rd. Here's a link to get to the show's blog, look for the post entitled It's a Hacker's World Out There. The audio is available there (and on iTunes). Listen to the show and read what they have to say.
For instance, lots of online security measures ask for things like Mother's Maiden Name, Name of First Pet.
I've seen lots of that in people's blogs, along with exact birthdates and places. And even more information than that. And I've seen that information about people's children.
There are some good preventative tips in the article and I loved the suggestion that one caller made: never give out your mother's REAL maiden name as the answer to a security question. Use a made up word from your childhood that is easy to remember but has never ever been on the web. Like Schnorgleplatz or something. Lie on those questions, just make sure you know what the answer is.
Talk about these things with your kids - they need to know too.