The news is providing a lot of fodder we could use for a blog—Putin's upcoming visit, the controversy at the Kotel, the non-stop scatological twittering by our President… My own daily dramas can overshadow the geopolitical and ideological. Welcome to my own personal newsheadline:
Proper Grammar Saves Hacking Victim (me)
Last week modern technology slapped me in the face. Usually the computer and internet are my allies, speeding my work along and expediting personal business.
While talking to my banker on the phone (a landline, no less), he asked if I'd just sent an email requesting $34,000 moved into a new account. Absolutely not! He didn't think so because and there was a spelling error and the syntax was tortured. I was hacked, and he told me the bank's security would investigate.
Waves of nausea enveloped me as I sat frozen in front of my computer wondering what could happen. Would the bank simply solve all my problems, round up the culprit and bring him or her to justice? Or, would my entire life be turned upside down?
Later that day my son emailed me with the same news."Mom, you were hacked." Echoing my banker, he said not only were there misspelled words, but the grammar was incorrect. Now I knew I had to face the consequences of the hack.
But, I was frozen into denial. I didn't really want to know how extensive the hack was.I didn't want to feel so completely vulnerable. The remainder of the day I thought maybe I should just give up technology. Fortunately, my son is not only a good detective, but also led me back to a safer cyber world.
So, first some advice to readers. If you have a sharing application like Team Viewer downloaded on your computer, de-install it and reinstall only when you need to use it. My son uncovered the issue and confirmed the sharing application was the route my hacker took.
Many of you are familiar with the next steps—run Malware, create new passwords for the innumerable accounts on your computer, freeze your credit, get new credit cards, check bank statements and credit reports and apologize profusely to all your contacts in your email accounts. It took hours of phoning, visiting the banks, and reworking passwords. This was all made even more difficult as I tried to power through severe back pain.
Just two days before the hack attack, the back pain struck. Not being able to enjoy my daily walk to the lake and feeling physically limited frustrated and angered me. How dare my body betray me?Again I had to seek help—this time from Annie, my Pilates instructor. It took ten days but following her advice brought me back to my normal status of minor aches that I can ignore. As I stretched my back and did the prescribed exercises, I had plenty of time to think about vulnerability and my stark fear of dependence.
I concluded that vulnerability is part of being human. It's not the opposite of strength and independence as I had believed, but woven into strength. It takes strength for some of us to ask for help. Hack attack and back attack reminded me that there are people in my life ready to hold my hand through weakness and let go when I recover. Some of my family and friends just listened to my woes and allowed me to spew out my anger. Some took an active part in recovering my ability to be safe on the computer and feel secure in my body. Maybe there will be another hack or back attack, but I'm more prepared to reach out. Thanks to all who helped. I may need your help again.