Being Hacked Taught Me A Lesson


It happened fast.  My email account was open through my Mac when suddenly my inbox went from zero to over twenty in less than a minute.  I clicked on the Mail icon and watched as the number grew to thirty than forty new emails.  All were error notifications that an email I sent out titled, “How Are You?” had been rejected by the server. 

The only problem was I never sent that email.  I’d been hacked.  I quickly logged onto my Yahoo account and changed my password.  I was confident I solved the problem.

In a sense I had.  The hackers no longer had access to my Yahoo account but they had my contact list.  Now my recipients were vulnerable to being hacked too.  I was bummed but I knew it was the sad reality of being in the cyber world.  People in my mailing list would know I would never send an empty email with just a hyperlink.  They wouldn’t open a link to whatever spam or virus the hacker was trying to direct them towards.  I decided to Let It Go.

Then it came right back.

“Elsie, have you seen this?”  Devin asked me.  He handed me his cellphone. 

I glanced at the “How Are You?” email he had opened. I let him know I had things under control.  No worries here, my dear.

He handed his cell back to me and said, “Look at the top of the email.”

As I looked, a knot grew in my stomach.  I may have been able to stop the hackers from doing further damage with my email but they injured me in a whole different way.

On Devin’s phone, the email had the option to see all of the recipients on the list with a simple click of a button.  One press with his thumb displayed my entire address book.  Seemingly not a big deal for most people but for me, this was a nightmare. 

Devin’s attention had been captured by an email address about infidelity.  He hadn’t scrolled down far enough to see the ones addressed to sex addiction groups along side my aunts, uncles, friends from out-of-state and worst still, our kids.  Right after disclosure, I didn’t create separate email accounts.  I kept everything the same.  Big mistake.

I shared with him the email addresses on the list he hadn’t noticed yet.  He asked what my plans were for damage control. My first instinct was to jump into action like he wanted.  I thought I should send out a mass email, let everyone know I’d been hacked and tell them to ignore the email.  Maybe even include an explanation about the wacky sex addiction email addresses.  That was the old me thinking that way.  The need to control the situation.

The new me decided to let the chips fall where they may.  The only people I told were the kids.  I let them know if they received a forwarded message from me to delete it.  They did just that.  The only people I heard from were a spammer and my daughter’s real father.  The spammer wanted to hook up.  My daughter’s father said he was doing just fine – IN ALL CAPS, that’s how he types.  He’s not the brightest when it comes to the computer and I’m thankful.

Slowly but surely I’m learning I don’t need to control everything.  They manage to work out just fine without me.

How about you?  Do you like to take control of things?