Hackers Making a Living

Services such as YourHackerz.com are active and plentiful. With cleverly friendly names like "piratecrackers.com" and "hackmail.net," they boast of having little trouble hacking into Web-based e-mail systems such as AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, Facebook and Hotmail, and they advertise openly.  All the services claim that they'll e-mail a screenshot of the target's in-box or even send an e-mail from the target's e-mail as proof that they've cracked the password. The customer then sends payment.

Experts say there doesn't appear to be much anyone can do about it. Federal law prohibits hacking into e-mail, but without further illegal activity, the crime only qualifies as a misdemeanor, and the the FBI doesn't have the time or resources to investigate misdemeanors.

No one seems to be safe from these hackers, either. Not long after Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska was named the Republican nominee for vice president last year, someone hacked into her personal Yahoo e-mail accounts. And as the election neared, someone at George Mason University hacked into the e-mail of the school's provost and sent a schoolwide e-mail informing people that the election date had been changed.

Experts yalk about how there are numerous ways to steal someone's e-mail password, from simply guessing at family names or pet names to high-tech infiltration. But the most common way is to send the target a link to a greeting card or something else they might be interested in. When the target opens the link, software is installed on his or her computer that snatches the password the next time it's typed in and sends it directly to the hacker. Web-based e-mail, such as Google's gmail and Yahoo, can also be attacked through bugs in the Web browser. Courtesy of washington post.com

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