Hacked, hook, line and sinker
It happened to me. I didn’t think it would cause I was oh-so careful of where I clicked and where I spent my time. No oddly formatted links for me, no random sites, and certainly no strange games. No, I steered clear of the underworld as I saw it and believed that would keep me safe. Then, three days ago, it happened out of the blue and rocked my virtual world. I was hacked, and not just hacked but hacked publicly on my favorite social network which has been my play ground for years and my lifeline during these last 7 months.
It began simply with some confusing messages coming through from facebook. Then soon, the kind warnings began, “looks like you’ve been hacked better change your passwords”. Then, the more stern warnings started, “Stop sending me this crap. Why are you doing this???” I jumped into action, changed my passwords on google, facebook and even changed my username for good measure. I then disabled any apps that had permission to post, locked down even more tightly all my security settings, followed protocol and crossed my fingers. And, there was no way to find the source of this rotten email being generated from my account. I sent reports to facebook, I began posting on my wall acknowledging what was going on, I reached out for help from experts.
Leaving for the afternoon, but still monitoring the fallout, I made what felt like a true statement to Dusty. “I would have been so much more upset about this before the fire.” Chuckling at seeing my “growth” show up here, I didn’t realize I was uttering primo bullhockey.
As the night went on, more and more emails came through choking my inbox, the thoughtful ones being watered down by peoples inane insistence that is truly was me doing this and that I was seriously bad and wrong. Jessica then spoke the unspeakable, suggesting perhaps I should deactivate my account. Promising it as a temporary condition and not the complete freeze those words carry, I followed her coaching and pushed “deactivate”. Then, I put my smart phone to the side and continued to be with my friends.
Feeling virtuous about my ability to let go, on the way home, I promised Dusty I would let it go for the night and might even leave my account deactivated for the next day and just ride out the storm as it seemed that all that could be done had been done. We decided a boycott of facebook was just what the doctor ordered….
I lasted until I got home.
Justifying (like any good addict) just one more check, I was aghast to see my inbox flooded again with the mix of warnings, even with my account deactivated. How could this be still happening, I wondered with a head full of fog and fear. One warning message stuck in my craw, “How could you be sending this crap out when we are in the midst of dealing with a hurricane?? You are being so thoughtless. I demand you stop!”. Oh my. I was beginning to let it get to me. I changed my passwords again, deactivated the account again, and went to bed hoping for miracles in cyberspace.
At 3:30am, I woke up with thoughts running wild and, yes, succumb and checked my email. Even more messages, railing about my insensitivity, mixed with a few kind ones suggesting I might have a problem and might want to change a password or two. Up for an hour and a half, doing just that (again), as well as googling solutions, I finally returned to bed for a brief sleep until dawn. Now exhausted and full throttle in my obsessive drive to fix the unfixable, I worked all day barely getting up to pee, eat or drink water. Even my dogs began to roll their eyes at me. I begged for help from experts, followed all suggestions offered, downloaded McAffee even though I have a Mac (which 18 hours later is still running in the background, slowing my machine, having found nothing…). Two patient angels helped me, taking time from their busy days, with their way above average expertise, Pam Finn and Adryenn Ashley to whom I am indebted. We made some headway with more changes and lockdowns and setting modifications. Yet, later on, the emails kept coming. Were they slowing? Was it choking out its last rancid breath? It seemed so, and then another message would come through.
A few times I became willing to pull the permanent plug. For most people, this would be the obvious solution, far preferable to losing sleep, and spending a day in exaggerated stress response. Alas, not for me. As an author, platform is gold and I have painstakingly over the years built my social media presence. It’s what had a new publisher be interested in me as a writer, but more importantly, since the fire, facebook has been my way to communicate with you, my readers of this blog. Unplugging from that source felt devastating. So I continued to try to save a sinking ship. Many advised that a permanent wipe of my account was the only option, while others swore it would run its course and begged me not to jump ship to soon.
Today, on the dawn of day three of my deluge, my facebook future is still uncertain. Emails are still trickling in with whacked out links attached. What is certain is my tender psyche is far from mended. Yes, I have always leaned toward the obsessive side of things, but my reaction yesterday was extreme. I missed a glorious sunny day. I didn’t go outside. I was a very bad doggy momma, ignoring my furry loves for most of the day. I trashed my house, felt chaotic, and did not like who I was one bit. Not one bit at all.
Fortunately, I called uncle at about 3pm yesterday. I finally left the house and left my mood. The fog began to lift and I felt human again. Viewing my obsessive ride on the brink of cuckoo (and perhaps falling into the cuckoo puddle), I see a desperation in holding on to what I think I need. In this crazy world full of fires, random violence, horrible murders of children, and now Frankenstorms, many of us grasp at the straws. There is so much chaos in so many lives right now. Cancer diagnosis, parents dying, money issues, sick children abound. Instead of taking on the angst of the world, I take on the angst of being hacked. Add in, being hacked is a violation of some sort. It’s not personal, but it is ugly and mean. Some twisted human designed something for the sole purpose of messing with others and causing them strife. At Landmark Education where we often create our own meaning out of words or even create brand new words that sound like gobblygook, there is a term called “unmessable-with”. This means what it says, the ability to not feel messed with even when messed with. I can say with all certainty, I ain’t there. I let myself be messed with for an extended period of time. I gave away my power, my peace of mind, my sanity. I was tunnel vision and taken out. I was hacked, hook, line and sinker.
What you can do to protect yourself from hackers:
1) Don’t show your email address publicly on your facebook page
2) Don’t allow 3rd party apps to link to your account and post on your behalf
3) NEVER click on links that seem suspicious in any way, shape or form
4) Browse only on “https” setting for security
5) Don’t use the same passwords on all your accounts. Use a password with characters, symbols, numbers, letters that is not easy to figure out
Also, a last request, be kind to your fellow “hackees”. At some point, it will happen to the best of us if we play in the land of cyberspace.