By Jason Offutt
The email message from my friend Chris was only slightly ominous: “Dude, I think you’ve been hacked.”
Just a few decades ago, “hacked” was innocently simple. It was something serial killers did when they didn’t åwant neighbors to notice anything strange when they came over for a cup of sugar, or human blood, or whatever it is serial killers are willing to give neighbors.
Today “hacked” has something to do with computers, which means I couldn’t fix the problem using Serial Killer 101.
A new email popped onto my screen claiming the message I sent (I really didn’t) couldn’t be delivered. Then another, and another, and at least 40 more. Today, hacked means someone took control of my email account and sent messages to everyone I’ve ever known.
I wonder what the message said.
Oh, look, another email appeared. It claimed to be from a friend, but you know how trustworthy emails are these days.
Aaron: “Jason. I believe your email has been compromised. I just got an email from you for Raspberry weight loss drops. Either it got hacked, or I think I’m offended.”
That’s great. Someone I’ll never know is telling my friends, relatives, my publisher, potential agents, and my children’s teachers they need to lose weight.
Well, I guess it could be worse. Oh, hold on a second. An email from another friend.
Tony: “Has your email been hacked?”
Tony: “Darn. And here I thought you were genuinely concerned about me increasing my bust size naturally.”
You know, I think it might actually be worse. I wonder what kind of message my kids’ teachers received.
Turns out, hackers invade other people’s email accounts all the time and, worse yet, they do it just because they can. The hacker sends spam, which doesn’t even have the courtesy to be delicious, to everyone you know using your email address. And, if you’re like me, you don’t need any help to make yourself look bad.
What relief is there for the hacked?
Well, you can’t do what you want to do, which is punch random people on the street. What you can do is run away. Not very manly, but we’re talking computers here.
According to the computer experts* I discovered when I typed, “I’m hosed. Now what?” into Google, after an account is hacked, complete the following steps:
Cry, binge eat Twinkies, or punch random people on the street. However you cope.
Check your computer’s security. For example, I now have a shotgun next to mine.
Change your password to something stronger, such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Email everyone and tell them what happened, what you intend to do about it, and how to go about posting your bail afterward.
Get a new email account and forget your old one ever existed (i.e. run away).
Yep, that’s what I’m doing. Running away. Just remember, if you receive an email from me that promises to enhance ANYTHING, it’s not from me. Well, unless I’m messing with you.
*Apparently nerds are no longer referred to as nerds because of their importance in society, which is to keep the machines from coming to life and killing us all.
Follow Jason on Twitter @TheJasonOffutt.