Sunday, 21 August 2011

Hacked off

It feels like being burgled. Some time on Thursday night someone hacked into my internet account and sent a message to all of my contacts, saying that I was stranded in Madrid and that I need 1500 euros to get home. Although it wasn’t well written, it sounded plausible because I’ve been in Madrid twice recently, visiting my daughter, and it was signed Doug, rather than Douglas.

The first I knew of it was on Friday morning when I looked on Facebook and one of my contacts had sent me a message warning I’d been hacked. I didn’t think it was a big problem until I checked my e-mails. I had about four hundred saved for various reasons and they were all gone. The hackers had also stolen my entire contacts list.

My daughter Nikki showed me the e-mail she’d got and I felt sick to think that everyone I’d ever had contact with on the internet had been sent something like that. The frightening thing was that they seemed to know that I’d spent time in Spain recently because Nikki had been working there. God only knows what they’ll do with all the information from the e-mails I’ve sent and received.

If I’d had my contacts list I could have sent out a warning, but I wasn’t able to even do that. I immediately went on Facebook where I have about six hundred friends on my personal and author pages and warned everybody, then did the same on Twitter.

It was only this morning (Saturday) that I discovered that a friend of my mum’s had been taken in by the e-mail. Worse, the hackers had come back to her and asked for more money to help pay a hotel bill. It just makes you incredibly sick to think that these cyber vultures are able to prey on someone’s basic instinct to help a friend in need. I only hope that she’s the only one.

My account is with BT, but to be honest they didn’t seem interested in the fact that I’d been hacked, which is pretty outrageous. I spent about three hours on the phone to a young Indian guy trying to get the account working again and he was very good. But you’d think that if phone hacking is so prolific they’d have some sort of provision made to protect their customers. Surely they should have some kind of emergency hotline where you can report it and get an instant response.


Gabriele C. said...

Ouch, that's terible that someone fell for the scam. I didn't believe that mail for a second; it didn't sound at all like something you would do.

Several of my online acquaintances recently had problems with hacked Facebook accounts. I don't touch that one with a five foot pole anyway, so I don't know if there's a connection and FB hackers could get into emails as well. But all the victims were writers.

Geoff Carter said...

Bad news, you expect more from BT, who I always think of as a premium service - which of course they are not - just expensive.

Doug said...

Spent another two wasted hours with BT this morning, because I was concerned about password security on my account. The girl started off by insisting my account hadn't been hacked, despite all the missing e-mails, and then ended up by saying that security wasn't BT's problem. Needless to say I'll be changing from BT soon

Companion Wulf said...

Oh gawd, that's harsh! Really sorry to hear that one! Worst part is that it's so damn easy nowadays.

You won't get very far with BT. They won't do anything - short of actually threatening legal action, which is another pain in the butt. Unless it directly affects them, they won't do ANYTHING. (In my experience, half of them speak Englishy anyway! O.o)

First off, BEFORE you do anything further, download a program called Malware Bytes. It's a scanner that'll check for evil nasty traces they may have left behind (I swear by it). There may yet be trojans hidden on your system, as well as keyloggers, which this program should get rid of.

Make sure your passwords contain numbers and letters (upper and lower case), as these are harder to hack.

Notwithstanding the damage has been done, there are several ways to track these idiots all the way to the true originator.

Hopefully this'll be resolved for you. I know what it's like.

Maureen said...

I shouldn't worry that they really knew of your Madrid connections, Doug as I had the exact same email a few months back telling me a friend was stranded in Madrid - and she's never been there!

Paul Darnell said...

Bummer for you Doug.

I thought having a book with all these money seeking spam scam emails would be quite a laugh to read.

Some of them are totally unreal and so funny, but as you found out, some can be a little more painful.

Hope it all gets sorted.