One minute you are living the Saturday night family dream, bathing the kids and looking forward to a bottle of wine with your takeaway. The next you see your identity being snatched away in the space of half and hour.
That might seem a bit dramatic when I tell you I’m referring to my twitter account, but it was 12 years of my professional and personal life hijacked by a hacker. Kids bedtime was the perfect time for me to miss the two warning emails from Twitter. By the time I noticed the second telling me my password had been changed, it was too late, the hackers were in, off and running.
My wife reckons she’d never seen me flapping like I did, that’s a bit embarrassing about a social media account I know. I called my old boss, he called an expert in these things. The consensus was it was more likely to a be a Bot of some description rather than a racing twitter sad case. That made me happier as I’d hate a vindictive troll to have access to my messages, that’s the other thing it’s like being burgled.
There was nothing I could do after following the automated Twitter advice but hope they did their stuff. In the meantime, ‘my account’ deleted all my tweets from the last 12 years and entirety of the 3000 plus people I was following. Luckily because a few of us were monitoring the account, we noticed the next move. The username changed to a full stop and @wtwblake and the account was blocking anyone actively tagging my account to let people know.
The next nightmare was trying to remember if my messages contained any personal info? Other passwords, etc? I was sure they didn’t but did inform people that had given me phone numbers and the like what had happened.
The lucky part was, the password that I’d used had been the same one I used for 12 years. I hadn’t used it for anything else. The importance of that highlighted when I was sent an authorisation code at 11pm, they had tried to log in to my Yahoo account too, quite unnerving ,you feel under attack. Thank goodness for all that hitherto bloody annoying security we have to deal with logging in to places these days. My password was a stupidly easy one. Yes, they still had to guess it, but with so few letters I expect there’s Tricky Dickie password guess-up software out there if you know where to look for it. In my defence though, who was going to want to hack a nobody like me?
It’s amazing what dreams your mind can conjure up when it’s under pressure. It was handy waking up every half an hour wondering if my bank account has been emptied or my private messages had been splurged all over the Internet. I got some sleep after confirmation from twitter that at 2am and they’d taken back control of my account so they had acted pretty fast. They couldn’t retrieve the people I was following or the dozen years of my life in tweets that had been erased though. It was a relief, but I think I know a little bit how the burgled feel.
The moral of the story is, the amount of damage these bots, hackers or whatever they are, can potentially do to you is frightening. There’s two-step verification with twitter too and the option making your password bullet proof. It’s worth taking the time, because you’ll never feel as helpless when it’s happening to you. ***
Luckily, they weren’t able to steal off me or have the time or inclination to delete my account in its entirety. I am still hoping that it was a Bot with no interest in my messages and not a racing twitter troll or I’ll be in all sorts of trouble! 🙂
Check your security everyone, don’t be a Simple Simon.
*** Hackers, I’m already impressed by your guile and ingenuity, this is not a challenge!