Monday, March 28, 2011

So sorry, I’ve been e-jacked

I was e-jacked on Friday, and I didn’t feel a thing.

The first hint that my gmail account had been hijacked came when I received a mail delivery failure notification for an e-mail to a bunch of folks I had not sent anything to.

Next, I heard from two of the 390 spammed recipients that my e-mail had apparently been hijacked, and one copied me on the original e-mail (including the very lengthy contacts list). Not coincidently both the folks who e-mailed me to let me know about the out-of-control e-mail were communications professionals, former corporate communications co-workers who would think to communicate with me about the strange e-mail they received. Thanks guys, and sorry about the spam.

And, it wasn’t enough that this worm, pickle, cookie or whatever stupid name there is for this spamming devil, sent an e-mail to almost 400 contacts -- everyone I’ve ever sent an e-mail to since I opened the gmail account in 2008 – including job prospects, other professional contacts, aunts and uncles. No, to make it just precious, the e-mail and link it sent was for: men’s performance enhancement products.

Great. Instead of just being annoying and embarrassing, this hijacked e-mail bearing my name is also “inappropriate.” Hopefully, it went to most folks’ junk mail or spam folder, and most really don’t think sweet-ole-me would zip ‘em a link about such as that.

In fact, I never opened the link that was sent to my unsuspecting e-mail contacts. I had already deleted the e-mail in “sent items” which showed it went out shortly after midnight on Friday, March 25. I deleted it and the sent e-mails. I deleted everything I could find to do with the e-jacking.

Therefore, I didn’t know what the spammers or hijackers were trying to sell or push or accomplish. Then, a communications friend, this one from Washington state, e-mailed, saying it looks liked your e-mail has been hacked and the link supposedly from me had directed him to “a Canadian health care link offering me – shall, I say – ‘performance enhancing drugs.’”

This former co-worker and I occasionally sent each other links about Bob Dylan or other music heroes. So, he clicked on the link from me, expecting Dylan or a video of roots music, but instead got an unsuitable surprise. However, he deleted all, and there was no apparent damage to his computer or e-mail.

Being a novice and newcomer to hijacked e-mails and one to try to learn lessons from embarrassments like this, I Googled and I Binged. I found out this e-mail hijacking is common, especially as a way to sell those male performance enhancing products. Sometimes, the hackers are after people’s contact information or passwords, or anything that can get them something for nothing.

Regarding e-mail hijacking and other security breaches, some remedies and precautions are recommended by the experts. If you got a strange e-mail from me, or from another innocent e-mail friend, here is some advice:

1. Don’t click on any weird-sounding-or-looking links sent in an unexpected e-mail.

2. Delete suspicious e-mails outgoing and in-going.

3. If you think your e-mail has been compromised, immediately change the password on your e-mail account.

4. Check your internal computer security system or program (mine is Trend Micro) and make sure it’s been updated and running. Ditto for your Windows security system; allow for the security updates when they come in, usually when you turn on your computer.

5. Contact a full system scan, including spam and malware with whatever antivirus and security software you have on your computer. (If you don’t have any security system, then getting your e-mail hacked is probably the least of what could happen.)

The IT experts went on to say that you can get a second opinion, and there are lots of pay sites and products to help with this. Bottom line: Keep your security up-to-date, and probably, change your e-mail password often.

And if you received an inappropriate e-mail from me, selling little blue pills or saying that you won $10K in some jackpot, please accept my apology, and DELETE.

Picture of the day:
I found this picture of hail in Alabama on TwitPic, taken March 27, 2011:

I share it because our camera was in the truck when we witnessed three hail storms in a row from our friends' Flint River camphouse front porch in Talbot County, Ga. Saturday. Some of the hail was at least this big, in each of the storms, which were followed by a gorgeous rainbow reaching to the horizon. 

Song of the day:
(I couldn't find a hijacking or hacking song, so I opted for Everything is Broken by Bob Dylan, who is scheduled to take his Never Ending Tour to China and Vietnam in early April. This song was released in 1989 and is a favorite lyrical tune with great rhymes for those times when it seems like every time that you stop and turn around, something else just hits the ground......)
Everything is Broken
By Bob Dylan

Broken lines, broken strings
Broken threads, broken springs
Broken idols, broken heads
People sleeping in broken beds
Ain’t no use jiving
Ain’t no use joking
Everything is broken

Broken bottles, broken plates
Broken switches, broken gates
Broken dishes, broken parts
Streets are filled with broken hearts
Broken words never meant to be spoken
Everything is broken

Seem like every time you stop and turn around
Something else just hit the ground

Broken cutters, broken saws
Broken buckles, broken laws
Broken bodies, broken bones
Broken voices on broken phones
Take a deep breath, feel like you’re chokin'
Everything is broken

Every time you leave and go off someplace
Things fall to pieces in my face

Broken hands on broken ploughs
Broken treaties, broken vows
Broken pipes, broken tools
People bending broken rules
Hound dog howling, bullfrog croaking
Everything is broken

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