I think my boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse is cheating on me. I want to hack into their email/im/Facebook/other account and find out what he/she/it is doing behind my back. Can you help me?
Can you get me the password for *****@hotmail.com/yahoo.com/facebook.com? This person’s been saying really bad things about me and I want to hack in and teach him/her/it a lesson.
I’ve lost the password for *****@hotmail.com. Could you please find it and send it to *****@hotmail.com? It’s really my account. Honest.
A family member has passed away, and I’d like to retrieve whatever was in his/her email account before it gets deleted for lack of use. But I don’t have the password. Can you get it for me?
This is actually an oversimplification of many variations.
But you get the idea. People want to hack into other people’s accounts for various reasons. Some, like that last one, sound perfectly legitimate. Others, not so much. And others are just blatant attempts at theft or harassment.
And do you want to know what’s really scary?
I get several of these requests every day.
For the record, the answer is no. No, I cannot and I will not retrieve a password for you.
I have many reasons for taking that position, but the biggest reason is actually very simple.
Hacking into someone else’s account without their permission would be wrong.
I can’t make it any clearer than that.
However, it’s not the only reason. Here are some more:
- It’s at least unethical.
- It’s quite probably illegal.
- It’s quite possibly immoral.
- If you don’t trust someone, hacking into their account will not restore trust. In fact, it will destroy their trust in you, if you’re discovered. As it should.
- I’m not a big believer in revenge to begin with, but hacking into someone’s account to send out harassing messages or deleting information is both stupid and very childish.
- If you pose as the account owner, there’s no way for me to know you’re not lying – and as you can tell, a lot of people do try that. I do not have access to the verification information that the service you’re talking about would have.
So what if you have a legitimate request?
I cannot and I will not retrieve a password for you.
OK, so what if you have a legitimate request, but the service provides no means to act on it?
That typically happens with the free services. They provide almost no customer support. For example, if you lose your Hotmail password, and none of the standard password reset mechanisms work, then you are out of luck. The same is true for most of the free services. You get what you pay for. In an extreme case, these services may listen to lawyers and officers of the court, so you might try that approach if it’s worth it to you.
But the real solution, in my opinion, is to avoid free services as your only repository for important information. Pay for a service that has a real person to support you and help you when problems such as this arise.
I really can’t stress that enough.
The lessons here?
- Don’t use free accounts as the sole repository for important information.
- Don’t lose your own password.
- Use strong passwords that are hard to guess.
- Set up the password reset mechanisms that many services offer by providing an answer to a secret question that only you would know, or by supplying an alternate email address on another service.
- If you have a problem with someone, hacking into their accounts is not the answer. Don’t try. Don’t bother asking.