Posted by: Sarah | January 17, 2010

Hacker Beware

It has been quite the nutty day. I awoke to discover that overnight someone hacked into my personal email account, changed my password and sent a SPAM message to almost everyone I know and have ever known. Stop. Consider that for yourself. Everyone you know. Everyone you have EVER known. Old bosses, old flames, old friends, new bosses, new coworkers, new acquaintances, family members and practical strangers. They all received some slapdash email pitching a piece of junk website with my name attached to it. Just imagine. I felt completely violated and was helpless to stop it. I couldn’t even access my account. Nightmare.

This was the first time this has ever happened to me in the history of my Internet use. Considering my first email account was back in the late-90s, I’d say that’s a pretty darn good track record. However, it did not make it any less of a shock nor did it preclude my state of absolute hysteria. Yes, I understand now (half a day later) that my end-of-the-world perspective was a bit overdramatic, but this came to light within the first hour of my waking and prior to my morning cup of caffeine. So I was vulnerable.

With sleep bleary eyes, pillow creases still etched into my cheek, and hair in a ratty fro, I quickly wrote a “Reply All” message on a secondary account in an attempt to rectify my good name. I wasn’t so much worried about my family and friends. As one of my best friends later said, “I knew you’d never put ‘hi!’ in the subject line. That’s just isn’t you.” (That statement speaks volumes, eh?) My concern was for all those editors and agents, magazine and newspaper contacts, bosses here and gone, and anyone that I wanted to retain some credible correspondence.

So in an anxious flurry, I typed out a warning email and just as I hit “Send,” my husband walked up behind me. He took one glance at the screen and said, “You spelled a word wrong.”


“You spelled ‘refrain’ ‘reframe’.”

And there it was: “… reframe from sending…”

I had unintentionally (by way of Mr. Hacker) sent everyone a possibly virus-ridden SPAM email and now, on top if it, an I’m-the-Idiot hysterically-typed, misspelled message.

Folks, I went from alert mode to nuclear meltdown in less than ten seconds. I’m talking tears and snot and blubbering. It was so bad, my husband could only assume it was hormonal. No. No such luck. Let me explain:

Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re already overwhelmed and then fate drops a canary feather of an issue on your pile and that’s it. You crack. You can’t handle anymore. Well, I’ve had that kind of a week, and this was my canary feather. Not the hacker thing. I could’ve handled that fine. I was a minute away from contacting the email network’s support team, changing my passwords, security questions, etc. But the misspelling put me over.

In my head, a nasty little voice said, “HA! And you are supposed to be a writer?!? You spelled refrain as reframe! You dingdong! You butthead! Now everyone you know, everyone in the world, will see what a meatball you are! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!”

Little shi—poo-head.

So I gave in to self-pity, took five minutes to rage it out, and then came the most focused calm I’ve had in days. I mean, crazy composure. For the next hour, I cleaned up and super-security locked all my accounts. I downloaded a virus checker and swept my entire system. I posted a warning complaint on my email network’s help forum to aid others facing this dilemma. I sent my family and friends links to make sure it doesn’t happen to them. Superhero productivity. I was going to Spidey-snatch this hacker and eat him for lunch. Finally, I dared a second “Reply All” alerting everyone that the situation was rectified and that ‘reframe’ is to place a picture in a new frame; ‘refrain’ is to stop an action. 😉

Hours later, this morning feels like yesterday. My email is up and working properly, and I’m blogging again. I guess this post is a victory declaration of sorts. Neither Mr. Hacker nor the canary feather won the day. Sometimes it takes a five-minute meltdown to help solidify exactly where your priorities lie. A misspelling is forgivable, but to whomever hacked into my email, may the fleas of a thousand camels be in your bed tonight and may your cereal boxes be infested with sugar ants! Sleep with one eye open, buddy, I know people.

Yours truly, Sarah



  1. You are the victor because, even with the meltdown, you were able to pick yourself up and keep on going. Not so for the hacker, he/she has no where to go. Hopefully, he/she will clean up his/her act and find a new hobby to keep entertained.

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