My email account was hacked into last week. The first indication I had that something was amiss was the rejection of my password by the account. No matter how many times I checked to make sure that I was entering the proper letters, the message was always the same: access denied. I contacted the server to inform them of the situation -- hoping it was just a temporary snafu -- and then got involved in other business.
An hour later, my husband called me. "Have you used your email address recently?"
Seems that several of his coworkers received an email that originated from my address saying that I was stranded in London without funds and requesting that the recipient of the email send $3000 so that I could settle up my outstanding bills and come home. The people who had received this pleading email were all university philosophy professors and they reacted with characteristic philosophical precision: all immediately deleted the email as junk. One, however was able to retrieve it and showed it to my husband, who noted that the construction and grammar in the email were terrible and that the message had probably been composed by someone for whom English was a second language.
At this point, I knew I was in trouble. I contacted the server again, jumped through countless hoops until I finally was sent the proper form to file for this situation. In the meantime, I discovered that not only had the hacker altered the access password for the account, he or she had also somehow changed my "secret hint" that permits non-password authorized access to the account.
I filled out the complaint form in scrupulous (and excruciating) detail and submitted it to the server. I was told to expect a response within 48 hours. Three days passed and no word from the server. I resubmitted the form with a note to please respond as to whether I could expect a positive resolution to the situation. Three more days passed. Nothing. I resubmitted the form again with another polite note requesting immediate attention. Nothing.
Apparently what happens in these "hack attacks" is that the hacker uses your "contact list" as a source of email addresses for potential dupes in the "stranded in London" scam. Fortunately, I have always avoided adding names to this list (or any of the other "bells and whistles" offered with the email account) -- the philosophy profs were put there by my husband. As far as I know, the hackers cannot get into (or if they can, they don't bother with) your everyday emails. I was really glad of this because I'd been using that email address for all of my correspondence with my publisher -- no matter how it is explained away, a plea to one's publisher for $3000 would be a major embarrassment!
The hackers are ignoring my emails but so, unfortunately, must I. I am now completely locked out of that account with absolutely no way to regain access. The addresses contained in the account are lost to me as are all of the archived letters. Worst still, the account continues to receive emails which I cannot open -- I'm not even aware of their existence! I am attempting to reconstruct my address list by memory and by word of mouth, but I have been associated with that specific email address for more than ten years and in that time I have contacted countless people. Although I may be able to recreate my "everyday" contacts, I have to accept that many emails, some potentially important, will be lost to me forever -- and my lack of response to these emails will leave the sender puzzled, upset, and perhaps even angry.
Email account hack-in have been occurring with greater frequency in the past few months. If you have an account with a password, take time right now to change that password. Change it again every couple of months. It might not prevent your account from being hacked into, but it can't hurt!
Causes Louise Young Supports
articulation of indigenous rights (organization: Cultural Survival)
sustainable, renewable, and independent energy sources