Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Bless my sibling's  internet paranoia and bless mine, I say!  The most recent intrusion into our lives came when we had a spate of unexpected visitors and phone calls.  

"Does Michael need help?" ......"What kind of help?"

All these concerned people had received emails purporting to come from a relative, who had been mugged at gunpoint in Spain, robbed of everything valuable including cash. 'Please send dollars to.....'

Michael was on holiday in the UK.  We allayed people's multiple concerns and contacted Michael to alert him to his alleged parlous state.  He had received the news just before I called.  He assured me his home computer was closed down and disconnected from the mains socket. 

As a consequence of the internet alarm, Michael used part of a day of his short vacation to do something he has never done, and that is, use an internet café to access his internet information and check on any online accounts.  Fortunately, there was only one personal account, one that sent out invoices rather taking payments. Just to be safe he cancelled his debit and credit card.

As soon as he returned home, Michael set about tracing the source of the rogue email. There were two web mail providers in use for groups Michael helped to run, both with very big mailing lists. One of his accounts he could see, but he could not enter it.   His password had been tampered with.   He was still  data cleansing his computer, running security checks and revising  his emailing arrangements, a day later.  

It takes one person in the group of contacts who may not be so careful or knowledgeable with internet security to allow infiltration and start a chain of upsetting and intrusive events.

Michael is careful how his operates his computer system.  Many people are not.  He has no interest in smart phones.  That is just as well, in view of the latest reports there are on the rich pickings  to be had by hacking into smart phones and accessing not just the phones, but the personal databases and banking details stored on them.


Vincent said...

I don't think paranoia is a suitable thing to be blessed, dear ZACL. It is to be cursed and exorcised. But you have my sympathy. My son has a Hotmail account which regularly sends me his enthusiastic personal recommendation to buy various fancy electronic items. But it doesn't quite ring true. He confirms he hasn't used the account for two years. That's where it becomes vulnerable to this kind of hacking.

Beyond this, over the years my sister has forwarded to me various sorts of false email alarms, about new viruses, people in need of money for medical treatment and so on.

The way I see it we don't have too many rights here. We enjoy all sorts of facilities without paying anything. Google and so on make their money from advertising. Probably you and I ignore the ads but someone has to make money somewhere or we wouldn't have a WWW at all.

We have to be careful, as your son apparently is. The internet is still safer than an unlit alley late at night for a woman on her own. Or perhaps not.

Harry said...

I get an amazing amount of forwarded mail from friends who believe that I will enjoy their sense of humour, and asking me to pass it on, to some other contacts. No matter how interesting or funny their attachments are, I never pass them on...too much chance of a virus being passed on.

ZACL said...

Hello Vincent,

Michael is a relative,but not my son. The hacking job that was done on his accounts is not, I believe, something we should expect to be blessed with because we benefit advertisers on web mail.

I will continue to be careful on line. Some individuals insist my caution is paranoia. If that is so, then it is mine, and I am keeping it! My sibling (not Michael) is even more cautious than I am. I can understand why, when you know what can happen with too much internet exposure. You give admirable examples of misuse of account information.

ZACL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ZACL said...

One comment deleted, it posted twice.

ZACL said...

PS Vincent, there are many people who do not know how to handle internet spoofs, which can be as bad as any virus. They are weak links in any chain of security.

Michael, had his password tampered with on his Gmail mailing account, can see it, cannot get into it to deal with anything. Gmail with their security is requiring all sorts of minute precise information from him; he's given up on that account. It leaves a whole list of emails accessible to whoever has tampered with the password.

ZACL said...

Hello Harry,

Thanks for commenting.

Yes, I know that scene well. Attachments that have been well worn in a forwarding operation are always a nuisance. I agree with you, if I cannot tell someone sitting nearby me the joke, (if it amuses me) it doesn't get passed on.