Random Thoughts / Getting hijacked at mouse point
Published 4:36 pm, Thursday, April 14, 2011
My email address was hijacked the other day. Thank you, by the way, to the person who used that word when she emailed me to tell me about the crime. It's a very apt way to describe the feeling that you have been diverted to a place you never intended to go. That would be the land of curiosity and confusion. Why did someone want to send a message linking my contacts to some strange website, and what was I supposed to do about it?
Many people emailed to tell me that they had received this bogus email from my address and to warn me that someone was using a piece of my identity. Some were people I hear from every day, like my husband. Many of these people were on my contacts list. I can dimly figure out how that could get raided, but some of the people who got the email were not on my contacts list. I don't even want to think of how these connections were made. Talk about "Six degrees of separation." Go figure.
Go figure a lot of things. For example, does anyone who gets one of those emails ever pursue the link? Do they buy the drugs or the device? Ever? I find it hard to believe that any person who knows how to access the Internet would be dumb enough to follow the link wherever it led. But if that is not what happens, what does the address thief want? It's a spooky thought.
My friend's email address was heisted a few weeks ago, but at least it linked to porn. It wasn't clear that there was something wrong in the beginning, so I opened her message which immediately showed me women in all stages of undress and invited me to find out more. My friend is the kind of person who might send you porn as a joke, but she sent a message saying that it wasn't her. It was one of those address hijackers doing his nefarious deeds.
I felt kind of bad that my theft was not so interesting. In fact I apologized for the lack of porn in the real emails I sent to all those who had gotten my fake email. Yes, I sent an email of apology. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to say. It felt strange to tell people that I was sorry that they had received the message from someone who was not me. After all, I hadn't sent it. Actually, I was the victim of the crime, not the perpetrator. Yet I did feel responsible. Where technology is concerned I always allow for the possibility that I have done something wrong.
I still wonder, when I get the messages from the person stranded with no money in London; the poor mother in Ethiopia who needs my help; or the very polite gentleman offering me, because I am so special, an opportunity to invest in his surefire deal, can it all be fake? Why do they do this? Does anyone send the man $20,000 or respond to the mother asking for help? I also wonder, why me? Do I seem like a loser? How can they tell online?
When my address was hijacked visions of disaster swept through my head. Was I going to hear from every person I ever contacted telling me that they had gotten this email? Were they somehow implying that I was at fault? Were people I hardly even knew angry at me? Even worse, were they laughing at me because I was so non-savvy I was the victim of a screen-name heist?
I'm telling the world: I do know people. I know people who know things about computers, even if I don't. One of these people told me what to do to get my screen-name back. I didn't have to contact everyone I've ever known, or change my online identity, or pay a reputation cleaner. All I had to do was change my password. I'm feeling pretty smug as I sign on with my email address.
The fallout wasn't all bad either. A few people who got my faux email are friends that I have fallen out of touch with. They were kind enough to let me know about the hijacking. We've exchanged a few emails since then and it was really nice to be back in contact. So take that, you Internet evil-doers. No evil has been done.