Google, you’re dead to me.
It’s been a week since my two email accounts, my Facebook account, and the gmail accounts of my children were all hijacked. I, or one of my children, probably clicked on a link that installed some kind of keystroke malware in the PC, allowing some fine citizen of Nigeria (not confirmed, but if the malware fits…) to enter into all six accounts. There’s really no way to know how the malware made it in, but I suspect it was my fault — during my “pull down the blog put it back up and add some need apps to the page” frenzy, I probably clicked somewhere I shouldn’t have. Seems like things have calmed down. Here are some things I learned:
- People are inherently good. I knew this, but was reminded of it when friends I hadn’t really talked to in years either called, texted or otherwise reached out to make sure I hadn’t been mugged in Wales and needed cash. Thank you. (And to those of you who ignored my “pleas” — well, I’m not sure what that says about us!)
- I feel sick when I realize that this Asshat IM’d with my friends on FB and Yahoo. The hack was one thing. The “impersonation” was another. Talk about having b^*$%. Wow.
- Trying to re-establish your identity is very tricky in this Internet age. Asshat HackerMan changed all the identifying information — as much as he could, anyway — on all the hijacked accounts. It took several calls to Yahoo!’s support center to get the account (finally) terminated for good. It took a government ID to get my FB account back up. Those are the good guys. As for Google….
- Google is dead to me. This corporation, with all its arguably great apps like Calendar, has *no* telephone support for its customers. This, combined with the fact that they leave all the “security” questions visible on the accounts — ripe for the changing — means that I (and my kids) have no way to prove who we are. Our security questions have all been changed. Google wants us to fill out a “form” that tells them our accounts have been compromised, and one of the verification questions is “what is the month/day/year that you created the account” with them. Can anyone tell me the M/D/Y they opened their current email account? I couldn’t, and thus none of the four gmail accounts were returned to our control –and we have no recourse.
- When you call Google, the receptionist acts like a robot, saying over and over “I’m only authorized to give you the contact information security.google.com” — even when you throw a small hissy fit at her. (She’s very good — I can’t imagine how many call like mine she gets every day.)
- The FBI agent I spoke with in Newark was lovely. But ultimately of little help with Google or with collaring Asshat HackerMan. A friend’s company had brought in the FBI agent to talk with them about Internet security, so she gave me the agent’s number. He was kind, and sympathetic and reassuring, but couldn’t do much for me at all. Basically, this hacker-scam is old news.
- You have no idea how many places have your old email address. Keep a piece of paper next to your bed so that when you can’t sleep at night you can write down all the ones you remember (and won’t recall in the shiny light of morning).
- Don’t use the folders on your email service for any kind of storage. I lost tons of emails about my children’s schools, my volunteer work, my travel, my blog administration, and oh yes, all the passwords for my children’s accounts (like Club Penguin, etc.). They were in a folder called “Passwords.” Really, how dumb can I be??
- Did I mention Google is dead to me? It is now to be known as “The Multi-Billion-$-Corporation-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” I won’t even use the word g%^&* anymore as a verb. Instead, I will simply “search” something. Even changed my phone — no more Droid platform for me.
And just for your information, if I ever need cash, I’ll call you. Just sayin’.