I get this question all the time. Someone surveys themselves and sees nothing “worth hacking”. Because they just send a few innocuous emails a week, they do a little Facebooking with family, they play some solitaire. What could be worth a hacker’s time with their modest computer usage?

What makes them (or you) worth hacking is Legitimacy. If a hacker can get into your email or Facebook account, that is what they are stealing: your legitimacy. The hacker has no real identity to you or those you know, and has little power to steal into your lives and grab anything of value. But if they can get into your accounts, all of that changes.

Let’s say a scammer gets into your Gmail account. Once inside, he will probably change the password and recovery methods, so you are locked out and he can get comfy. He can now enjoy “being you” through your Gmail account. Since people trust messages coming from your Gmail, he has stolen a legitimate piece of your identity and can now:

  • Send scammy emails to everyone in your Contacts list, while bypassing all spam-filters.
  • Attempt password resets on your social media accounts, so that they can try scamming there.
  • Use your email address to logon to websites where the scammer has previously been blocked or banned.
  • Rifle through your Sent Mail to see where you shop, then attempt password resets at those sites, for some quick holiday shopping.

This kind of identity theft happens everyday and can really catch you off-guard, if you don’t think ahead and take it seriously. Your email and other online accounts are valuable, to the right crook. Please make sure to use strong passwords, so that crooks can’t easily guess them. And think twice before giving passwords out to anyone asking for them.