Friday, February 24, 2017

I Was Hacked

Who would want to hack my lil ole email account? I mean, why would anyone want to take over someone's email account?

But someone did: apparently for the purpose of sending malware to everybody whom I have ever emailed.

On Wednesday, I got a notice from Google/Gmail to change my password because there had been some suspicious activity. So, I did.

But the people who hacked the account never signed out, so unbeknownst to me, bots were sending emails from my account from places all over the world, such as Malaysia and Scotland, for example.

We finally figured this out when I sent 4 emails to my tech support friend. The emails weren't about the problem because I didn't know that I had a problem at that time. No ... I sent him 4 emails on the same subject because Gmail kept telling me that I couldn't send an email from Trash.

I didn't, therefore, know that he had received any emails, especially all 4, so he called to find out what the heck was going on, and it was he who discovered that bots had taken over my account.

Fortunately, he knew how to kick them out, and I changed my password yet again.

Meanwhile, undelivered emails were still out there, so Google kept trying to send them because that's what a mail server does when it doesn't succeed at first. So, even though my account had been secured, the emails were still going out, and I began to hear back from various concerned contacts.

Meanwhile, I had a second email account with the same weak password, and they hacked that too, but I think we, or rather he, as in my tech support friend, got ahold of the problem too soon for much damage to have been done.

So, how did this happen? I have had that email account for 15 years, maybe 20. I had a weak password all of that time, but I didn't think anyone would bother to hack my email account. I do have many passwords that are strong, but I never bothered to upgrade my email passwords.

Here's the lesson about making passwords if you need it.

  1. Don't use a simple word; they have programs to crack passwords, and simple word passwords are easy.
  2. Use a mixture of upper and lower case with some numbers and wild characters.
  3. Make them longer than 8 characters, Twelve are better.
There may be other good guidelines, but start there.

16 comments:

Mara said...

Recently somebody had tried to change my Facebook password. Fortunately I have not (yet) had any problems with my emails. Nor did I get any strange emails from you, unless they ended straight in the bin of course...

Dogman said...

I use a browser add-on called LastPass to generate unpronounceable strings of characters for my passwords.

KGMom said...

I so wish all that technology brain power were going to some good use for humanity. There are so many ways that people can be so disappointing...(no, I won't start listing then), and hacking is certainly near the top of my list.

Bernie said...

I received one of your emails. From what I could make out it was something about women's health. I thought it was real. I too am going to change my passwords AND write them down. I forgot my email password which they wanted. Sorry you had to go through that.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

John, I also received an email that was reportedly from you, but I've had experience with similar friends having their emails hacked. I immediately deleted the email and also then the trash. And, I was going to contact you but figured that since your email was hacked, it wouldn't be a good plan. And, I knew that you would also discover the problem, unfortunately afterwards.

As to WHY spammers would hack an email address it's so they can pry on unsuspecting folks who would open the message and then infect their computer or worse yet have personal information compromised.

There's a word for folks who do this, but I won't type it here cause we all know what we think of them already.

troutbirder said...

Ugly indeed. Thanks for the heads up and advice.

Marie Smith said...

I will never understand why people do this stuff. Thanks for the tips.

Kay said...

There's so much malware and spam and whatnots out there, it's hard to know what to do anymore, but I know you should have a difficult password and you should change it every so often. Such a bummer to do though.

Shammickite said...

Maybe I should have a password changing day.... it would take that long to change them all. Luckily I have them all written down.

Ginger said...

Bummer. And thanks for the good reminder.

Ruth said...

I got an email from you too but recognized what is was. I have so many passwords between home and work- it is a challenge to keep them all straight. I use a sentence now as I find them easier to remember than random words. I substitute one letter with a number- i.e. change all "i"s for the number 1.
W1llth1skeephackersaway ?? Who knows.

Tabor said...

My husbands email has been acting funky. He is not a computer person and finds all the features confusing. I guess I will have to check out his gmail.

Jenn Jilks said...

Isn't that awful! I'm so sorry. I dated someone (OK, we were engaged, it was between husbands, but it didn't go welll) whose job was white hack hacker at CSIS. He's a retired military man.
I see people doing this for money, but this is just stupid.

Luna Crone said...

Are you on a PC?

They are more easily hacked, than Mac's. Which I use.

Debbie said...

oooooh what a pain!! my husband just got hacked, on a mac. the hacker was sending emails to our lawyer and our accountant, about transferring $$$, no one fell for it - our accountant and lawyer don't have the ability to do that anyway. good suggestions, i should "update" my password, it's very lame!!!

MARY G said...

Just found this as I was about to tell you you had a bug. Dreaming of retinal password they talk about. BTW I am presently at the Heart Institute in Ottawa for tests and surgery and have vey limited connectivity, but will do my best to keep up with your gorgeous grandkids.