Doing Damage Control

My email account has been hacked.

It is all over the news when some famous person’s account is hacked. There could be compromising information in their email. It is probably worth hacking to someone who wants to prove a point.

But I’m not a famous person. Who cares what is in my email? Most of what I have to say is public anyhow. If I was targeted, it was for some unfathomable reason, or else my recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

I found out when friends began emailing me. “Did you send this email?” or “I think your email account was hacked.” If you are among the people I correspond with, you most likely received my junk mail too and wondered if I had turned spammer. It will relieve your mind to know there is no “Kit that changed my life.” There is, however, a hacker that changed my life, at least for one evening.

I’ve had my address ripped off before. Most email programs let you send an email using a different address. And the great thing about that, from a spammer’s perspective, is that the email bounces go back to the person whose address was stolen. The thief doesn’t even have to deal with his Internet Service Provider blocking his email address due to SPAM.

This time it was different. Someone got into my address book and sent junk mail to the addresses of private contacts and business associates. Imagine my embarrassment. I avoid putting very many people in my address book and use web mail because some providers are so frequently the target of email viruses.

It was not a virus. I updated my virus definitions and ran another full scan just to be sure. No, this was done by someone who knew what they were doing. Technical articles tell me there are many ways that web email can be hacked: by guessing your password, by guessing the answer to a security question, by using spyware when you sign into email on an insecure computer.

Sometimes the hacker guesses the answer to a security question that is too easy. My password was probably too easy. You should never use common words or phrases found a dictionary. You should also not use the name of your spouse, child, or your pet whose picture is posted in Facebook. I, a writer, didn’t put enough thought into originality.

I’ve tried to secure my account now changing passwords and such. I have a feeling it is like your home, though. If someone really wants in, they will get in regardless of bolts, locks, or burglar alarms. If necessary, they will kick the door off its hinges – or use software that tries millions of passwords until it finds the right one.

The email to contacts was the tip of the iceberg. A ripple effect occurred when it went to groups that I subscribe to with hundreds of members. It was a nightmare trying to delete public posts and explain private ones.

Maybe I didn’t use to be famous, but I’m becoming more famous all the time.

Copyright 2012 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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2 Responses to Doing Damage Control

  1. Sheila Moss says:

    Possibly they can buy stuff on your account, or try? I use as much security as I can now and change my passwords frequently. It’s a pain, but what isn’t these days.


  2. hartlife1973 says:

    I hate when that happens! I don’t understand the point of ripping off our emails or why hack into someone’s bill account unless you want to pay it for them! I have 2 factor authorization on my emails now because of this. I get emails saying this is the code you asked for (I never do) so maybe that would help?


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