I was hacked!

November 1, 2007 at 10:22 am 7 comments

hackedI feel invaded … and traumatised. My laptop is my personal domain. It contains notes to myself, music I like, business documents, personal mail, photos, etc. That someone else had access to all of this is the worst kind of invasion of privacy.

What am I talking about? Well I got up yesterday morning to find that I could not access my gmail and yahoo accounts. At first I assumed that perhaps there was a problem with those services or with my ISP. However, everything else seemed to be working. I could browse, I could use hotmail and ichat.

It was then that I decided to change my password on Yahoo and, after going through Yahoo’s security scenario, was able to access both Yahoo mail and Yahoo messenger.

That wasn’t so easy to do on GMail though. The message I got was that it would be done in 5 days. In this day and age?  Anyway, I was busy throughout the day because we had the P@SHA AGM yesterday. It was only when I logged on in the evening on Yahoo, that I discovered that I had been hacked! “Someone” sent me a message saying “I see you are back on Yahoo … do you want your gmail back?” I responded that I did and of course demanded to know who this person was.

Would you believe that I was told that he was an admirer? That he was very impressed with all that I had done at P@SHA and for the IT industry … and he just wanted to talk to me. Since I wouldn’t acknowledge messages from strangers, he had to get my attention somehow. I was naturally livid and told him that this was not the correct way of getting anyone’s attention. I asked him if he knew how much trouble and anguish he had caused. He apologised and gave me back my gmail account.

I don’t understand such behaviour at all. This “attack” motivated me to change my passwords, run Anti-spyware software and set up a Firewall. But do I feel safe? No. It is like the time someone took my mobile away from me at gunpoint. It took me forever to feel safe again. I eyed everyone I saw with suspicion and no longer felt like the carefree person I am.

I wish people who play such pranks could understand how much damage they cause emotionally. By invading my space, this person has made me feel unsafe and violated. I hope that if he really has an iota of respect and admiration for me, he will never pull this kind of stunt on anyone again.

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Creative use of old hangers First class IT infrastructure?

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. haseeb  |  November 1, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    If you already aren’t you can also try to switch to using https gmail in case the guy is sitting at your ISP: https://mail.google.com. If you use FireFox, you can use GreaseMonkey with the GmailSecure script to make sure FireFox automatically redirects you to the https version of the gmail.

    I don’t think Yahoo supports https only access though.

    Reply
  • 2. nabil  |  November 2, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Our mail, which I also called our virtual home, had become so intimate years after years that I understood what you felt at this time. It is why it is very important for you to use password, that will not be easily guessed, and use firewall and antivirus, of course.
    Just imagine if you lose all your mail data (email received and sent, adress books…) which you have collected in many years!

    Reply
  • 3. Astarte  |  November 2, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Well, you are really lucky. In my case, it was plain old stalking which went on for a much much longer time (I am still not sure it’s over). Nothing worked, changing e-mail accounts, sims, mobile phones. (I know, I know … a part of me was actually laughing at all of this as I felt that I did not have anything to hide). That does not mean I am telling people to ignore cyberstalking and just suffer it. I want some protection for naive people and this is the reason I’ve been unsure of joining PASHA movement. Anyway best of luck and wish me luck too🙂

    Reply
  • 4. Jehan  |  November 2, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    @Haseeb – I appreciate the advice.

    @Astarte – actually the P@SHA movement, as you call it, is not to prevent the law from being enacted. It is to make sure that the law is a good one and is clear in its definitions as well as its protection of the rights of individuals. Otherwise criminials will get off scot free whereas innocent people will end up in prison. I hope you are not being stalked anymore – it can be extremely traumatic whether you have anything to hide or not.

    Reply
  • 5. Vic  |  November 2, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    I find many people – this is not a remark on your security practises but a general comment – do not understand the difference between secure mail and secure email, between walking with caution on a public road and browsing with caution on the information superhighway.

    Follow Haseeb’s advice and also look out for more guides to safe Web usage. Be very very careful about who gets near your machine on those occasions when you must leave it unattended.

    Reply
  • 6. We were all hacked... : Green & White  |  November 3, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    […] Now, on with the regular content…Losing the means to communicate with the outside world, in Jehan Ara’s words, made her “feel invaded… and traumatized” when her email accounts were locked […]

    Reply
  • 7. d0ct0r  |  November 25, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    you should have investigated properly how this person got your passwords.. i guess you don’t use other people’s computer to access your mails and your security question won’t be that easy either i assume.. so HOW did it happened?

    Reply

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