Tuesday, June 10, 2008

While I napped, I got hacked

I honestly don't know if the napping had anything to do with it. It's so rare for me to sleep in the afternoons. But I was woken up by an unlisted number, calling on my mobile.


'Hello, Is this the grasshopper?' said a man's voice.

'Tell me your name first. I don't speak to strangers.'

'I am the do-gooder. Your old friend. Good uncle.'

'Oh, Uncle good. Good you called. How are you?' I said , sleepily.

'You are in Bangalore, aren't you? ' he asked me.

'Yup. Lovely weather.'

'Then you have been hacked.' he announced.

'Hacked?' I asked.

'Someone stole your email account and wrote to all your contacts, asking for help, for money.' said the do-gooder.


'Yes. The mail says that you are in Nigeria, that you lost your purse in a taxi, you have no money...'

'From my email address? Are you sure?' I asked, walking towards my hibernating comp.

'Absolutely sure. All your contacts have been copied. Hundreds.'

'Oh No.'

I opened my comp. My gmail account was signed in, but as soon as I touched the mouse to go to sent mails, it signed off automatically, in front of my very eyes!!!

Suddenly my land line started ringing.

'Hi grasshopper, this is your far off cousin.'

And my mobile started its chime.

'Hi, far off cousin, please hold for a moment , I have to answer my cell.' I said.

'Hello, Grasshopper, this is your Rakhi brother.' said my cellphone.

I took both cell and landline near my mouth and said, 'Guys, brothers, I am fine, now let me solve this problem. Thanks for calling, bye.'

I tried opening my Gmail account, and, holy cow, it wouldn't accept my password! My beautiful password, my favorite word of the last six years! Username and password do not match, it said, in an ugly red.

How could they just divorce like this? Without a fight, without a warning!

I held my tears in check and called the hubby.

'Look down, you will see, Cannot access my account, there will be a long form, just fill it to the best of your knowledge, and it says it will take five days, but it wont take that long, OK?'

'Ok, but hang on, will you? I will need your help with the form.' I pleaded.

'Sorry, I got to run. I am performing. Best of luck.'

So this computer illeterate dealt with her formophobia and, with three to five to seven tries, finally filled in details of herself and clicked submit.

------------------Two years, sorry hours later-----------------

I opened the computer again and viola! A new password, and my old gmail account opened, all mails intact. One mail is extra. It already has 15 replies. 'Help me out,' reads the subject line. I open it, and watch the horror show.

How are you doing today? I am sorry i didn't inform you about my traveling to Asia for a program called "Empowering Youth to Fight Racism, HIV/AIDS, Poverty and Lack of Education, the program is taking place in three major countries in Asia which is Japan , korea and Malaysia . It as been a very sad and bad moment for me, the present condition that i found myself is very hard for me to explain.
I am really stranded in Nigeria because I forgot my little bag in the Taxi where my money, passport, documents and other valuable things were kept on my way to the Hotel am staying, I am facing a hard time here because i have no money on me. I am now owning a hotel bill of 450$ and they wanted me to pay the bill soon else they will have to seize my bag and hand me over to the Hotel Management, I need this help from you urgently to help me back home, I need you to help me with the hotel bill and i will also need 1200$ to feed and help myself back home so please can you help me with a sum of1650 to sort out my problems here? I need this help so much and on time because i am in a terrible and tight situation here, I don't even have money to feed myself for a day which means i had been starving so please understand how urgent i need your help.i have decided not tell my family so that they will not be worried.when I return I will tell them and they will understand.
I am sending you this e-mail from the city Library and I only have 30 min, I will appreciate what so ever you can afford to send me for now and I promise to pay back your money as soon as i return home so please let me know on time so that i can forward you the details you need to transfer the money through Money Gram or Western Union.Hope to hear from you.

Below was my standard signature and blog address. The replies were interesting, revealing the personality of my friends.

Do gooder : This is a spam. Grasshopper's account has been hijacked. I just spoke to her in Bangalore, she is fine.

Close friend : Hey, this does not sound like your voice. Is this real?

Ex-boss : Grasshopper, where shall I send the money? Please send a phone number too. ( So sweet of her.)

Ex-boyfriend : Tu nahin sudregi. ( You will never improve.)

I quickly wrote a disclaimer mail, with a subject, 'I have been hacked, please don't help'.

hello all,

I am so sorry, but the last mail you got from my email address, with the subject, please help out, was not sent by me, but by some internet thief, hacker, whatever. I am in Bangalore, safe and sound in my home.

A few days ago, (less than a week, in fact ), I got a mail with the subject, Account Verification. It said that there was a clogging in the gmail system, because of which my account might get deleted, and I should send them my username and password if I didn't want that to happen. I fell for it.

Thank you, those of you who called me and warned me that this has happened. I have changed my password, which I was avoiding since a long time.

sorry again,

warm regards,

I fell asleep, shaken by the robbery, of my personal space. By the very fact that this can happen, is there anything, anything of value, that is personal? And, if I am not a person who is personal, who am I?

But the very next morning, my question subsided as my mail opened to a bukey of flowers, a host of replies, from friends long forgotten, expressing relief that I was well, wishing me well, teasing me, asking me how I was, remembering me, ...... , ahh....., so this is who I am.

I realize, with certainty, that I have to chose, between internet and enlightenment. Any guesses, to what I chose?


Anonymous said...

It's very similar to trusting. We teach our children to not trust strangers, confining them to only those 'certified safe' by us, which denies their innate instinct - which is who they are. Will you ever trust the internet again?

Grasshopper said...

Of course I will still trust the net.
I will simply refrain from sharing my password freely, and I will keep changing it, once every month.

Rajashree said...

Smart girl! :-)

Banno said...

While you got hacked, you also got tons of good wishes. :) That's internet enlightenment, what?

Erin said...

Grasshopper, found you through Posh Mama. Love the way you write. Will be back to visit more in the future.