Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Encounter with a cyber terrorist

Terrorists are not just those that fight with guns; they could just sabotage your relationships and may be your bank balances too.

Last week was my encounter with a cyber terrorist.
He hacked into my yahoo account and sent out a serial mail hoping to fleece as many of the unawares as possible in my address book.

In the midst of my Diwali spring cleaning I got a series of insistent SMSes from a dear friend Rashmi, asking me where I was. When I called, she immediately told me very clear-headedly to change my password immediately as the account had been hacked and told me about the begging mail.
The amazing mail, supposedly written from London, stated that I had been robbed of all my cash, cards and luggage and needed 1200 pounds immediately to clear a hotel bill and come back home.

Fortunately for me, although the mail sounded plaintive enough, those familiar with my writing style caught on immediately: the style was not mine!
The password was immediately changed. In the process, the intruder was identified from the extra alternate address, his location pinpointed and the fear of God was put into him.

But meanwhile, so many people had received the plaintive begging mail and I was flooded with calls and mails. Among others, an old school friend from the West Indies mailed to say sorry he was in Miami and would ask someone closer to help me out after I confirmed where I was.

Another friend from Dubai fired the cyber beggar, telling him that if Kusum was in trouble, she would call her son in Dubai, not a friend. A publisher mailed to upbraid his fake as she knew my writing style. Around midnight, an elderly second cousin of my husband rang from Bangalore to ask what the problem was. A friend phoned in from Bikaner and a niece sent the SOS to my sons, telling them to get a move on, not realizing it was a fake.

Despite the reassurance from the number of calls and mails, the thought was rather disconcerting: had I not been informed so early, how many of my friends would have lost their money, thinking they were actually helping me? I would hate to think that any of my friends has actually lost their money to this cyber terrorist.

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