AUSTIN, Texas -- Police arrested Miles Maldonado, 23, for hacking into his ex-girlfriend's online accounts and even tracking her phone.
We're all online in some way or another whether it's email, Facebook or shopping. Some of us have dozens of user names and passwords for various sites. It's one reason police say they handle thousands of cases just like this one, and if you're not careful you could be next. Whether you're hacked by someone overseas or someone under the same roof.
You may have four email addresses, one Facebook account, a twitter account, Gmail [and] you may have 17, 20 different accounts online, said Det. William Pursley with the Austin Police Department.
So the chances someone other than you logs on is even higher.
We'll have plenty of times where someone will get into someone's email account, that leads them into someone's Facebook account, Pursley said.
Police arrested Maldonado for hacking into his ex-girlfriend's email account, changing her passwords and even using an application called TeenSafe to track her phone. She figured it out after receiving a Google text alert that a password had been changed on her account.
We get easily hundreds, possibly even thousands, of similar cases every year, Pursley said.
Pursley takes those cases on and said the evidence isn't too hard to find.
When files are deleted, the parts overwritten, parts aren't, we can take that information with the type of copy we have, the forensic image, and get significantly more data that otherwise the average user can't see, he explained.
In this case, he could even see that Maldonado had hundreds of failed attempts logging into her accounts.
What we tend to investigate most commonly is situations in which an ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, ex-husband or ex-wife accesses someone's online accounts or creates a fake account in someone's name in order to get some advantage over them in custody hearing or just to make them look bad or to just generally be obnoxious after a breakup, he said.
His rule of thumb: If you're thinking about changing your locks it may not be a bad idea to change your passwords as well, he said.
- Don't give your password out to anyone.
- Always use the highest security options available on a website or your phone.
- Put a code on your phone. If it's stolen, someone could access your e-mail, and other accounts.
- You know those websites that ask for a security question answer? Don't give the correct answer. Example: Q: What street address did you grow up on? A: Blue Any generic answer you can give, the better. A person could easily find the answers to your personal security questions online.