Before this week, I thought of “hack work” as something like THIS.
Now, it takes for form of e-mail messages to friends, relatives, and colleagues with subject headers like:
“Hello! You’re personally invited to visit my new site!”
“ROFL! I can’t stop laughing after this! You should see it!”
With – shall we say – embarrassing links contained therein. Yesterday, it happened to me.
This sort of stealth attack on your e-mail contacts list comes from nowhere, flooding said contacts with this sort of spam – and the best you can do is change your password and do some damage control after the fact.
Like this message I hastily composed:
Today, my e-mail account was hacked. Please ignore anything received today before this message.
This is becoming a common practice, as three people I know have had this happen to them this year.
I can't imagine anyone would BUY something from an effort like this -- so it can only be a malicious prank on the part of persons unknown.
Sorry for any confusion or embarrassment.
Believe it or not, there was an upside to all this. I got to enjoy plenty of communication with persons who I may not communicate with as regularly as I’d like to – and on subjects beyond the mass-spamming of my contact list.
In that communication, it became very clear that this is far more of a common practice than I thought.
As noted above, I know THREE persons to whom this has happened over the past year – many others with whom I communicated on the topic also know victims of similar hackings.
Friend of this Blog Bruce Kanin made an interesting observation that I kinda knew from my previous experiences, but never actually put into words. Here’s our exchange on the subject.
BRUCE TO ME: “And I've come to recognize it quickly, as well. The hackers can't quite imitate the person they're impersonating. Not yet, at least.”
ME TO BRUCE: “That's an excellent point, Bruce!
“In the cases I'm familiar with, including someone I've known since 1980, I could tell from the subject header that something was amiss. We all DO have our individual styles, interests, etc. And that shows. (...or is noticable when it does not show!)
“In fact, my general rule is that, if I do not know the sender -- and the subject matter does not look as if it is specifically directed at me (reflecting a very specific interest of mine), I delete it unread.
“So that's why they attack under the guise of a friend. ”
Many of you who read this humble Blog are personal friends – and I would hope that all recognized that the subject header quotes above were NOT the way I would “put” anything! Score one for Bruce.
So, there’s a lesson for us all – and to those who received spam under my good name, I remain sorry!