Reality bites on returning home…

So, back from a wonderful holiday in fabulously hot temperatures, relaxed and looking forward to upcoming events.  But nasty surprises awaited!

The day I got back, I learned a very old friend had died – someone I used to work for many years ago.  Then I discovered the article I’d been expecting to appear in a local glossy magazine hadn’t made it to the July issue.  There was no chance it would appear later as it marked an anniversary that fell in July.  Third rubbish thing that happened was that my email account was hacked.  Nightmare! The first I knew was that I kept getting phone calls and messages asking if I was all right.  It slowly emerged that everyone on my email address list had been told I was in Madrid, had been attacked and had no money.  The email purporting to come from me asked my family, friends and colleagues to send money.  I, of course, immediately sent out a message to everyone on my address list to inform them that this was simply a hoax.  And then I discovered I’d been locked out of my email account.  I changed the password only to find I was locked out again.  This happened twice more – I wasn’t happy as you can imagine and really quite scared about the repercussions. I went into my settings menu and changed some things around.  That worked!  Once back into my account I found that every single email I had ever received or sent (all neatly labelled in a really well organised filing system) – well, they had all gone.  Disappeared.  Stolen.  I emailed Google and they replied that they were gone forever, there was nothing I could do.  Almost on the point of hysteria now and I started getting all the emails I had sent people saying the previous email was a hoax, returned to my inbox, undelivered.  I soon saw why.  Every single one of my 600 odd email contacts had been corrupted.  The addresses all had an extra ‘on’ added to the name before the @ sign.  It took me until almost two in the morning to change them back again.

Why did this happen?  Well, I later discovered what I had done – on my return from holiday – jet-lagged and needing sleep, I had received a message from Gmail telling me they had upgraded their security system.  To make sure I was covered by this extra security I had to simply click a button…. I clicked!  I was hacked!

Days later I’m still livid.  What was the worst thing about this?  An elderly neighbour of mine received the appeal from ‘Madrid’ and didn’t know what to do – she asked her dear old husband’s advice.  He told her to quickly send me some money!  Fortunately she was one of the ones who did receive my message about the hoax before her address was corrupted.  I wonder how many other people are screwed over in this way?

The internet is a wonder and a joy, it gives us information at our fingertips and helps us communicate with our loved ones at the touch of a button – but when it goes wrong – it is a living nightmare.

And then I reminded myself – no-one was physically hurt and in a few weeks’ time it will be a thing of the past.  Lesson learned the hard way.

So, not a great welcome back to Blighty but we move on…

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