What happens when you accidentally log into an email or social media account that’s not yours, as two thirds (62%) of us have? Well, 90% of us admit we don’t immediately log out.
The study, by Manchester security and surveillance firm Online Spy Shop also revealed that half who stayed logged in performed at least one action in the account!
What’s more, some 22% admitted to deliberately trying to access partner’s social media at least once – and one in three of those guessed the right password, with Facebook being the social media account most likely to be hacked by a partner.
Excuses for this ‘ethical snooping’ included investigating infidelity, helping someone to make a surprise marriage proposal, tracking down a missing person and being asked by a significant other to check messages.
Out of the Britons who accidentally hacked their partner’s social media account, either by logging in on a shared computer or finding the account already logged in, only 12% immediately realised their mistake and logged out.
A dishonest 22% admit to deliberately trying to access their partner’s social media accounts.
What’s the first thing accidental hackers do when they’re in their partner’s social media account?
|Looked at inbox||31%|
|Opened a message||24%|
|Posted from the account||15%|
|Copied or forwarded a message||4%|
Facebook is the social media platform most likely to be accidentally hacked, with 76% of those who admitted accessing someone else’s social media, either deliberately or by accident, saying they did it on this.
Ethical snooping – Case studies:
Eli Zheleva, 28 from Portsmouth used a browser vulnerability to hack her friend’s email, and reset her social media passwords to find her location after she went missing.
“A friend of mine went missing. Her housemate called me to let me know she’s stormed off. Later on, he found a rather negative note buried under other paperwork on her desk. It wasn’t suicidal as such, but it had lines such as “I don’t want to live amongst people who’d rather I was not alive.”
“We didn’t know where she was and she had left her phone at the house, thus we couldn’t contact her, all we knew is that she’d had some alcohol to drink and then drove off, which worried us even more.
“She was supposed to take a flight to Bulgaria a week later and we were wondering if she’d rebooked her flight to leave earlier. We were desperate to discover her location.
“I used a trick I’d read about on a popular tech website that enables you to decrypt passwords that have been saved in a browser. This enabled me to get into her email to get the new password to access her Facebook to see if she’d contacted anyone. Once I was in her email, I was also able to see if she’d had any confirmations from the airline about changing her flight. We were then able to tell the police that she was probably still in the country, as our biggest concern was that she’d gone to Bulgaria.
“Thankfully she did turn up safe and well. The moral of the story is never to use the same passwords for different accounts. It was worryingly easy to get into her email account.”
Rebecca Williams, a chef from Yorkshire is a prolific ‘honest hacker’, having accessed her brother’s Facebook account and the account of his ex-girlfriend, without either knowing at the time.
“I logged into my brother’s Facebook account while he was on a plane to New York. He was planning a surprise proposal and one of his friends posted something on his wall that would have given the game away. I used his laptop and logged into his Facebook as his browser had saved his login details. Then I deleted the post. He was glad I did it when he found out.
“I also used Facebook to discover that his ex had been unfaithful. He’d said he was suspicious, so I went and found out. I guessed her password first time as it was very predictable. Then read her messages and saw what she’d been up to. He ended the relationship with her but didn’t tell her how he knew.”
Dale Davies, a digital marketing manager from Edinburgh, has an ‘open social media relationship’ with his girlfriend.
“I log in to my partner’s social media all the time. I post things on her behalf and check her messages, at her request. I don’t feel weird and I’ve never seen anything private or sensitive.”
Steve Roberts, a former close protection and surveillance operative who now runs Online Spy Shop, believes Britain has a big issue when it comes to protecting and respecting digital privacy.
“It’s so easy to leave yourself open to invasions of privacy. Either by leaving yourself logged in, or just by allowing your browser to save your password. You become reliant on the honesty of others to protect your privacy.
“It’s shocking to think that only 1 in 10 of us can resist the temptation to log out right away when we find ourselves looking at someone else’s private information, but it’s even more shocking that some people think it’s OK to breach another person’s online privacy because the ends justify the means.”
(Source: Online Spy Shop)