Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hackers are Real, Unfortunately

Someone tried to hack my email account.

What a way for me to find out that hackers which I would also call spammers, scammers and con artists; are indeed, very real.

I really thought I'd read them only through forwarded emails, sometimes in headlines because they hit a big company and more I heard from rumors; from a long list of a friend of a friend. But now I am not at all happy to tell you, a hacker almost got me.

It was done smoothly. Someone buzzed me in yahoo messenger. I really thought I was chatting with someone I know. The hacker was using Haze's yahoo messenger ID. How should I know it wasnt her at all? Plus, the hacker was also texting me in Tagalog language (the national language of the Philippines) so I wasnt really suspicious at all. Yup, the hacker is from the Philippines.

I wasnt really suspicious. Even though the hacker started telling me to download new pictures. Even though clicking to that file asked me to log in into my yahoo account. Even though that hacker asked me to open my webcam to check if his/her webcam is also working. Actually, I became a bit suspicious when my webcam just wont work -- meaning, when it wont focus on my face at all. Because then the hacker started texting me in all caps, as if he/she's getting angry with me.

Well, the hacker's only trying to get a good shot of my face in the camera, what a fool I am! Even if that's on my mind, the hacker wasnt responding to my texts, anymore. I just logged off. But you see, I didnt know I'm being hacked already.

Good thing Haze reacted quickly because the very next day when I opened my email, I saw a warning note from haze, saying that her previous YM ID is now being used by a hacker, that her yahoo email is now blocked from her. Somebody else is pretending to be her! I really panicked then. I didnt know what am supposed to do.

But Haze assured me that I could still do something as I could still access my email. I decided to change my yahoo password right there and then. But I didnt really think about logging off from chatting as I wanted to know what really happened with Haze (I have already gotten her new YM ID by then) and I wanted to chat up some blogger friends who I know could help me as soon as possible with such technicalities. It also helped that I first logged into my notebook, instead of my computer, as I was using the PC when I was online with the hacker.

And you know what, the hacker tried to chat me up again, using Haze's ID during the time that I already knew that Haze's been hacked. What a nerve! Kept on buzzing me, until I decided to click ignore. I dont really know what to do. It was one very stressful morning. All I wanted was to save my accounts and make sure my computer and my data are all secure.

I am glad for the quick help from my blogger friends. And of course, I commend Haze for sounding off the warning immediately. It turned out someone from her YM list had already been connned into sending globe telecom loads to the tune of a few thousand pesos just because they didnt know that they werent talking to Haze anymore.

So, to anyone on my list of YM contacts, I have decided to stop logging into my YM ID. If ever someone tried to buzz you, I am not that person. Be warned.

It would be easier to give you a list of tips I learned and I got from my blogger friends:

1. Never ever accept contact, esp on chat rooms, without checking out if that person is known to you.

2. Dont click links that are strange to you. Now if you do click them, be suspicious when it asks you to log-in to your email or messenger account. Log-off immediately. The trick of that hacker was to give me a link saying it's a new photo... curve your curiousness as it could save your account.

3. Always have anti-virus and anti-spyware in your computer. We are using F-Secure and Pao, (thanks a lot, dear friend) recommended this Spybot. Pao also told me to always update your anti virus and your anti-spyware. Scan your computer completely. I scanned and scanned!

4. If you think you've been hacked, dont log-in into any of your accounts in the same computer. Try to use a different computer to change all your passwords, just in case a Trojan or a keylogger's already sneaked in your computer. And log in only if scanning showed no problems.

5. Azrael helped me loads, too (thank you very much for your patience, az)! He told me to uninstall my yahoo messenger, delete it and install it again. I did that, too, although as I've said, I am not using my account for now.

6. Avoid using your messenger account but immediately inform your friends on what happened so they wont be victimized. Haze was quick in posting shout-outs in her friendster and facebook accounts. I blogged about it in Tagalog here.

I hope that by blogging about it, everyone who would be able to read the story would be warned. Let us be careful who we meet in the internet. I know there are lovely people out there, but sometimes, there are bad wolves, too. Unfortunately, I met one big bad wolf. I hope by sharing this, you'd be able to skip this experience.

Let's learn together.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for blogging about this Raquel as I would not like people to be a victim. Let's fight against hackers, crackers, phishing etc. I also uninstalled my YM and reinstalled it, is Spybot a free spyware ?

raqgold said...

hi haze, yup, spybot is free. download mo na sya. and yes, let's make more people be aware of these kind of people.

Hailey's Beats and Bits said...

raq, i just turned into midlife:

geri said...

Raq, Haze, I already alerted my friends in a groupmail. Will link this in my blog. Thanks for the warning!

lovelyn said...

Alarming. Just wondering why on earth people do this.

Thanks for this post. I was never into chatting. My YM is always off and I only have around 6 email addy in it.

Analyse said...

grabe, victim ka din pala.. buti na lang i was busy with my kyla, i wasn't online when this hacking incident happened.. i was on haze's list din kasi. hope the hacker stops now.. bistado na modus operandi nya..

tintin said...

Haze needs to get control of her yahoo account! She should email yahoo to prove she is who she is and establish control of that account. She can then delete it altogether so it cannot be used, but too many people could be duped by thinking it's Haze they're talking to.

I'm sorry you and Haze had to go through this.

Anonymous said...

That's really scary! Thanks for letting us know Raq. I haven't been using YM since my Windows computer crashed.

Take care,
Tina of

Heart of Rachel said...

That must have been scary. Thank you for the heads up. I appreciate these reminders.

Anonymous said...

This is like "we thought it's only in the movies". Scary yes. But thanks for the tips. They're really helpful.