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Keeping your e-mail safe

Tom Jackson • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:27 PM

It hasn't gotten much play in the news lately, but the investigation into who hacked into Sarah Palin's Yahoo e-mail account has continued. Today news broke that a Democratic lawmaker's son, David Kernell, has been indicted in the matter.

For many of us, the incident represents a teachable moment in how to keep our e-mail secure. In the Palin case, the hacker, whether it was Kernell or someone else, pretended that the password for Palin's account had been forgotten and used Yahoo's password retrieval service. As computer security guru Bruce Schneier explained, the "secret questions" often use answers that can be obtained by someone else.

Yahoo Mail apparently doesn't worry much about security, but Gmail offers an interesting alternative: You can pick your own "secret question," thereby posing a question that only you will be able to understand, much less answer. If you use Gmail, go to your account options and pick that option. Also, don't forget that the best passwords are not your pet's name or something else people can guess but instead include random numbers and letters. To obtain a secure password, go here.

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