a day in the life of a hacked woman
Friday, October 1st, 2011 - I'm blissfully in REM sleep when...
I wake up to an annoying repeated buzz. Not being a morning person, I say "oh for crying out loud" to no one in particular and try to go back to sleep. The buzzing continues, insistent. And then, suddenly, respite. A moment later, it restarts, furiously. It's coming from my iphone, which, apparently, is having a little orgasm party.
I get up reluctantly and check my email. Sure enough, that's the culprit. There is a massive influx of messages from someone called Mail Delivery System. I don't understand what's going on. I squint and try to decipher the messages on the small screen without my reading glasses. I catch the words mail, delivery, and failed randomly in different emails. I move to my desktop to take a closer look. Holy shit, this is bad. I'm gonna need some coffee, pronto.
7:30 am to 8:00 am
There are at least 400 notifications of bounced-back emails. There are also all these other notifications from my provider regarding attempted delivery of an email I never sent. Yup, I've been hacked. I try to read some of the original messages embedded into the returned emails and find out that, unbeknownst to me, I have been peddling in my sleep, among other things, Viagra, the Genie bra, and merci merci lunettes (whatever they are). And also proposing, among other things, to "share my sexual experience" with all my family members, friends, co-workers, every company I ever ordered anything from, and all my acquaintances past and present. Holy shit. And my clients. HOLY SHIT!
8:00 am to 9:00 am
I realize that in the avalanche of automated messages, there are genuine emails, like this one:
Hello (my name),I haven't seen, talked to, or heard from this guy in over 10 years. I suddenly notice that with every "holy shit" I say out loud, my dog is freaking out a little. So I just mouth it. Repeatedly.
I believe your email account has been hacked. May want to change your password.
It was a pleasant surprise to receive an email from you even if it may not have been intentional. Maybe someday you will let me know why you stopped being friends.
Still miss you much.
9:00 am to 9:30 am
I'm on the phone with a tech person from my email provider, trying frantically not to sound like the freaked-out version of myself where I repeat the same information (over and over) by just changing the words a little, or give out way too much information than is requested of me. She is cool, collected, and speaks slowly, just in case I'm retarded. She tells me that:
- I did all I could by changing my password for this particular account.
- There seems to be no other virus or malware that she can detect from the info I gave her (also because I told her that the first thing I did was run a thorough scan of my computer which came back clean).
- I should upgrade my computer protection to this particular anti-virus software that does everything except shackle a digital intruder and deliver him/her directly to the police.
- I should buy the particular anti-virus software that does everything except shackle a digital intruder and deliver him/her directly to the police... FROM HER.
After having paced furiously and smoked probably a pack of cigarettes by now, I sit my behind down to assess the situation.
My behind is falling asleep while I'm scouring google for info on what to do next. I realize that the solutions are provider-specific and that I should be grateful that I wasn't locked out of my own account (which apparently also happens sometimes) or worse, been hacked properly by having someone take over my computer entirely. But mostly that I have a lot of email address changes to request.
I have thought of everything recent that has required my hacked email address as a log-in, identification, or mail-delivery, and have made all the necessary changes. I now move on to cleaning up my Outlook inbox. I find a few automated "vacation" responses to my shamefully misspelled and painfully obvious sales pitches, namely from old professors who oddly seem to be on some sort of coordinated hiatus. Oh hey, here's that guy who spent the whole semester asking us what we thought whenever we asked him factual questions, because he couldn't be bothered to read the material he required. Lazy asshole. I hope you click on something nasty and get a virus (no I don't) (but he was a lazy asshole) (maybe he's fired and wants to save face by pretending to be unavailable for legit reasons).
2:00 pm to bedtime
I spend the remainder of the day, after a much deserved copious lunch, glued to my computer, with my cell phone nearby, answering calls, emails, and texts ranging from empathizing to puzzled to downright hostile (it's a good thing I had the day off...this was so much better than shopping, right?) Even though I haven't been using this email account much of late, I have had it since 1997 and it appears that I have in fact racked up a ginormous contact list. It must have looked like manna from heaven to my neighborhood friendly (and let's not forget entrepreneurial) hacker. Sorry buddy, you're unplugged. And I think I'm doing you a favor because, seriously, who really is gullible enough to buy that shit?
Tomorrow, I will sit down and trim my contact list to the bare essentials. You want in or out?