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Hollywood Hacker: How to Avoid the Online Mistakes of the Stars

9:14 AM, Oct 14, 2011   |    comments
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Christopher Chaney

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In light of the recent arrest of accused celebrity cyberstalker Christopher Chaney, more people are concerned about protecting their private lives online.

Chaney is charged with 26 various counts related to what the FBI dubbed "Operation Hackerazzi," a case in which 50 celebrities email accounts fell victim.

PICTURES: Scarlett Johansson

Chaney will face those charges in federal court again today in Jacksonville at 10:30 a.m.

According to Dr. Layne Wallace, an associate computing professor at the University of North Florida, the public is more aware of the risks because of high profile hacking cases like those involving stars Scarlett Johannson and Christina Aguilera.

Wallace teaches classes on how to avoid internet security problems.  He said the study has grown tremendously at UNF over the past few years.  Dr. Wallace credits recent media attention on hacking and the University's new state of the art labs, reportedly the most advanced lab in North Florida.

Wallace said the celebrities involved in "Operation Hackerazzi" did not do anything wrong.  He asserted that stars are targeted more because they are famous, but the general public often makes the same security mistakes.

"Regular people-if there is someone who wants to target you, then all they have to do is go out on the internet," explained Dr. Wallace.  "For people who haven't gone out and just kind of Google searched on their own name, it's pretty amazing how much information is out there."

When creating a password:

  • Don't use something obvious, like "11111" or "password."
  • Don't use the name of one of your children
  • Do not use part of your street address
  • Don't use the name of your high school or mascot
  • Do make it something difficult to guess
  • Write the password down and hide that paper

When filling out "security questions:"

  • Do not answer truthfully, people can easily find the correct answers by performing a Google search about you
  •  Treat the security questions just like additional passwords

General account maintenance:

  • Check your acount settings frequently to make sure your emails are not being forwarded or copied to another address
  • Treat your smart phone just like your computer
  • Change your password  regularly

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