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But they then used a popular family tree history website to verify my birth details, including birth date, mother's name, father's name, and my full name.
They also discovered that an ancestor of my mother – a former Attorney General – had been a peer.
I received an email from an account named 'Ricardo Almeida', requesting a meeting later in the week.
As there was no context to the request I ignored it; approaching a journalist in such a way, however, is particularly likely to be successful.
They were able to use Twitter to find out my work email address, as well as some of my recent locations and the name of a regular social night I attend with other journalists.
From objects in the background of one of the photos I had posted on Twitter they were able to discover what mobile phone I used to use, and the fact that my fiance used to smoke roll-ups (it was an old photo), as well as the fact he likes cycling.
The job of an ethical hacker is to do 'penetration testing' for companies.
This was the hackers' first attempt to 'fingerprint' my computer.
The aim of this is to identify which operating system the computer is running, as well as which browser I was using, which browser add-ons I had, and which security software might be running on the computer.
Normally, when an email contains an image, the receiver's email client has to contact the sender's email server in order to 'fetch' the image.
The ethical hacker then tells the company what they have found, so that it can fix the vulnerabilities before a real hacker discovers and exploits them.
Hacking an individual is quite a different matter, and John warned me that the attempt may be unsuccessful.While these details may seem inconsequential, they all helped the hackers to build up a picture of who I am, so that when it came to launching a targeted attack, they could make it as personal as possible.