Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Curse you Frenchy spam-hackers!

For all of you arriving here following a link in a message I apparently sent you Sunday night, let me first offer my most sincere aplogies.

My g-mail account was hacked, and in the space of one minute, used to send out over 100 spam messages to everyone I have ever had contact with via my g-mail account. The messages consisted of a random combination of words (mostly names) as a subject, and a link to a random, innocuous sounding website. Although I have not been brave enough to actually click on the link, those who have tell me it is a pharmaceutical site, selling prescription drugs. The other link in the message is to this blog. This is because I have that link set as the signature line for all e-mails going out from my account. This has resulted in a spike in traffic here, which I guess is something of a silver lining. But I can promise you, I would rather nobody visited my blog than a single person get spammed in my name.

To summarize, here are a few talking points you should remember:

1. Nope, I am still a computer guy working a respectable, 9-5 job. I have not quit my job to start peddling Viagra via e-mail.
2. Can I repeat how sorry I am that you got spammed? I am even more worried that people might get infected with something by clicking on the link. Remember that even e-mail coming from people you trust could have questionable content. Trust your instincts, and don't click unexpected and/or unexplained links in e-mails. Call the person, like one very astute friend did (Thanks Jon, for continuing to call back three times when I didn't answer!) and ask them if they sent it. Or, just reply to the message like many others did without clicking the link to ask if it is legit. Or just delete it. Will it kill you if you miss a video of someone's cat playing with a cardboard box?
3. Keep your passwords complex. I got lazy and picked a password with all letters. This may not have been what allowed me to get hacked, but it certainly did not make it any harder. I have since remedied this (stupid!) mistake, by changing my password to a 10-character password including numbers, capital letters, and special characters. I already have it memorized, and I know you can do it to, if you really try.
4. G-mail has a handy feature that will tell you the IP address and location of anyone logged onto your account. It is way down at the bottom, in tiny font, but you can find it if you really look. Check it out once in a while. You might be surprised!
5. I am going to go and beat myself with some Cat-5 cable for a while, for being the IT guy whose e-mail got hacked.

And no, I will NOT be sending out links to the video. Sorry!

© 2010 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved