Washington, September 25 : The recent hacking of U.S. Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin's Yahoo e-mail account has raised fresh concerns over how easy it is to break into any web account.
The hacker - said to be David Kernell, son of Democratic Tennessee state Rep. Mike Kernell - exploited a flaw in Yahoo's webmail service that requires all its users to secure their accounts through easily obtainable information like a pet's name, where you met your spouse, or what your high school mascot was.
While a webmail user may consider it to be personal information, it actually is not because someone with even a casual knowledge of one's personal life can answer such questions in certain cases.
Personal blogs and social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace can reveal a lot of information about their users, which a malicious person can misuse to change one's password and have full access to the account.
The task was even easier in Palin's case, with journalists revealing her background to inform the public.
According to the Washington Times, it took only 45 minutes for the hacker to reset Palin's password by finding out her birthday, ZIP code, and where she had met her husband Todd.
The hacker used the pseudonym "rubico" for the purpose, which the Web site ZDNet linked to Mr. Kernell, according to a posting to a Web bulletin board.
For someone whose personal life is not so public, it would take longer.
However, a hacker can still successfully carryout this task, says the newspaper.