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Saturday, September 06, 2008

No, You Haven't Been Hacked

I'm sorry, but people should get a permit to be online. Or at least a beginner course in how to use the Internet properly. I am sick and tired of getting complaints that "I've been hacked!"

No, you haven't.

Real hackers don't bother with common folk like you and me. Real hackers don't just go breaking into people's email accounts to harass them. Real hackers are smarter than you (and probably smarter than me) and look for challenges.

You probably chose a password that was either

A) Easy to guess (like your dog's name, an anniversary or birthdate, the school you graduated from, your favorite color, etc

B) You wrote it down on a piece of paper in plain view or near your computer and the person who is now harassing/impersonating you found it and used it against you

C) You openly gave the person your password and when your relationship/friendship ended, you forgot to change your password.

Examples follow of real incidents reported to me:

He got so mad at me that he hacked in to photobucket account and put up pictures that were against the Photobuckets Terms of Service to try and get the account suspended.

Turns out this guy knew the harasser through an online game and had known him for four years. Enough time for that person to know a lot about this guy and most likely guessed his password. So what does he do? Instead of going to Photobucket and changing his password to a combination of numbers/letters/symbols, he starts telling the guy "f-ck you" via Yahoo Messenger. Which just escalated things.

They hacked my aol account and my myspace.com account

She dated the guy almost 10 years previously. For a long time. So he obviously knew a lot about her. I can bet you 10-1 her password was something really easy for this loser to guess. What was worse was he and his now wife were going into her AOL and Myspace accounts and sending people in her address book nude photos taken of her by him when they were dating.

NEVER, EVER let anyone take sexually provocative photos or videos of you, no matter how much you love them. Because this is exactly what happens when you break up. Unless you don't mind having things like this eventually show up online (and believe me, they will), keep the photos and videos to normal subjects. If you do decide to do a sex tape, don't be surprised when it does who up online.

So what did this woman do? Instead of going in and changing her password to something no one could guess, she bitched about them continuing to "hack" into her accounts.

My computer has been hacked into twice in two months with two different hard drives and two different operating systems. I am now on my third install of windows.

Now, this one was what the FBI told her a "remote hack." Ever hear of firewall/antivirus software? How about a hardware firewall? Turns out she was using some free software. You get what you pay for and if it's free, well, you need to pay the money for something that will protect your computer better.

She hacked my email account and intercepted racy emails between my wife and myself and printed them from her computer and has distributed the documents to several people.

"She" is his ex-wife. Although he claimed to change his passwords frequently, it turned out he was using easy ones he could remember. Once he changed it to something with numbers and symbols in it, the "hacking" stopped.

The person hacked into my account between 9:30pm -11:30pm on 3/9/08. My personal email address was sent out and they have since erased the texts from the online account.

Um, this isn't hacking. This is someone going into their email program and putting your email address into the FROM line so that they could send out messages pretending to be you.

First he hacked into my myspace account to steal all the settings of my profile and then made a profile on myspace that is exactly the same as mine and messaged me.

No, he didn't "hack" into your Myspace account. Your Myspace account was publicly available to everyone online and all he did was copy everything you put up there and create a new profile imitating you.

My daughter's account was hacked into and password was changed--by her daughter or daughers boyfriend- filthy e-mail is being sent to her friends and family

Again, an easy password to guess. NOT hacking.

She then, somehow, hacked into my Myspace page and began contacting my friends and family by sending rude and nasty messages about me to them.

Again, her Myspace profile was public, so all this person had to do was go to her Friends list and send everyone messages. NOT hacking.

Get a grip people. And follow these 10 pieces of advice:

1) Create hard to guess passwords. Yes, they're harder to remember, but they're harder for someone to figure out and get into your accounts online or offline. Make your password a combination of at least letters and numbers, and if you can, add some symbols to it, like $t()()p1d (which translates to stupid - see what I did?)

2) Make your Myspace, Facebook, AOL or other profile private so that only those on your Friends list can view it.

3) On that note, only approve people who REALLY are your friends, because once you make them a friend, they can view EVERYTHING you put in your profile, blog, photos, etc.

4) Put as little personal info about you in your online profiles. Don't use your first and last name together anywhere in the profile, especially as the name of your account, such as myspace.com/johndoe. Don't post your cell, home phone or address. Don't put where your work unless you want people who get mad at you, want revenge or just want to be idiots call your workplace and cause trouble for you.

5) Don't post provocative or controversial photos or videos online anywhere. This can affect you now or later in life. You could lose a job, a spouse, a potential date, a scholarship, admission to a college, etc. Get my drift?

6) Again, DO NOT let anyone take sex photos or videos of you. They WILL eventually show up online, guaranteed. I don't care how much you "love" them now. Don't do it.

7) Make sure your computer has a good antivirus AND firewall program installed and keep it updated. Pay for the renewals every year. If you're really worried about online security, consider a hardware firewall. Go to your local computer store, Best Buy, Circuit City, etc for advice on what would work best for you. An unprotected computer is an open door for the real hackers.

8) If someone does guess your password and gets into your accounts, immediately go in and change the password(s) before they do. If they've already done that, then contact the content provider or your ISP to let them know your account has been compromised.

9) You are not anonymous online. Even if you open up a free email account through somewhere like Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, etc, harassing messages can and will be traced back to you. If you're that ticked off at someone, take a step back, really think about it and realize it's not worth it. Or you'll be taken in by Internet Road Rage. Just like some people get so mad driving down the highway, snap and begin chasing someone in a road rage incident, the same thing happens on the information superhighway. And the consequences could be jail time, loss of a job, suspension from school, or a divorce or breakup. Is it really worth it to "chase" someone online because they ticked you off?

10) Finally: If you wouldn't let your grandmother view it, don't post it online; if you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't send that email or post it online; and if you don't want things you're doing now online follow you later in life, JUST DON'T DO IT.

For more information on staying safer online, visit my book's web site, Net Crimes & Misdemeanors. If you are a victim of online harassment, cyberstalking or bullying, visit my organization's web site at Working to Halt Online Abuse and for kids/teens who are being bullied or harassed online, go to our Kids/Teens Division at WHOA-KTD - click on Need Help? and follow the instructions from there.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just a nobody that a real hacker hacked. I'm not asking if I was hacked. I know. Why? Because I caught him.

3/26/2009 10:22:00 PM  

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