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A life laid bare in a single day

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Sarah Whyte

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Get hacked

Professional hacker Ty Miller reveals to internet socialite Theodore Chan how easy it is to have her online profiles hacked.

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Theodora Chan always thought her online identity was impenetrable.

But it took only one day for a professional hacker to obtain enough information to begin hacking into the 25-year-old's email and social media accounts and opening the door to her entire online identity.

Ms Chan agreed to hand over her email addresses and social media handles to hacker Ty Miller from Pure Hacking, who spent one day looking at her accounts, conducting what he called an ''ethical hack'', without committing any illegal acts.

Mr Miller said it was Ms Chan's old accounts from her university days, her Skype account and activity on chat forums from more than five years ago that would provide easy access to other accounts such as her main email addresses.

''You can't rely on these organisations to secure our data,'' he said.

Mr Miller said an online identity theft would start with the ''weakest link'' of a person's online presence, such as older accounts; a person's ''secret question''; or by forming connections with Facebook ''friends'' or connections on LinkedIn.

Ms Chan was unnerved at the findings: ''You were able to find out my Skype username,'' she said.

''I didn't think that was available. I didn't even know my Skype username. Hypothetically you were able to find my university account that I haven't used for more than five years. That worries me.''

Online identity theft is a growing trend in both Australia and internationally as users overshare information, online experts warn.

''Never before have we lived in a time where our security and identity is at such a risk,'' cybersafety expert Susan McLean said.

According to the Australian Crime Commission's latest annual report, cybercrime is a booming industry. Online hackers can earn up to $100 for stolen bank logins for accounts with a balance of more than $1000, and receive up to $35 for a single stolen credit card.

Online security company Norton's annual report last year estimated cybercrime is costing Australia $1.65 billion a year.

The more information you put on the internet, the easier it is to obtain the ''100 points of identity'' necessary to create bank accounts and fake online identity, which is becoming a huge issue in eastern Europe, Ms McLean said.

''People don't understand how valuable those 100 points of identity can be,'' she said. ''If you post it to the internet you have lost control and it's there forever and can be used for whatever reason someone wants.''

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