I am not new to the internet. I am well aware of the dangers involved, the security risks, and the enormity of information that is out there for anyone to see. As a result, I keep a fairly low profile – while I am active online, I keep personal information to a minimum, don’t go to suspicious sites, don’t install stupid games (especially on social networking sites), and don’t click through ads or pop-ups.
It was way back in the early 1980s that computers entered my life – my mom was active on some BBS boards (remember those?) Bulletin Board Systems, where you could dial in to a common server and ‘chat’ with other people. I hated that whole modem thing: every time I picked up the phone to call a friend I got that horrible screeching noise. We were not allowed to touch the computer or modem at first, but after a little while mom got a Commodore 64 and the silicon world opened for me: Atari, Texas Instruments, IBM, and then Macintosh…
I took a typing class on a lovely TRS-80, learned a bit of BASIC programming, kicked major butt in video games, and when I went to college I was one of the only freshmen on my dorm floor with a personal computer. Not many years later, the Internet and the World Wide Web reached the general public. Chat rooms, e-mail, html, oh my!
The digital revolution changed the way humans interact, forever morphing what it means to be in touch. We also learned just how vulnerable our private and digital lives are to cyber attacks. Email scams, phishing links, redirects, viruses, data worms, malware, identity theft, you name it — the Web is a dangerous place to play. I learned early on to not share too much, to be careful, to use discretion and stay away from fishy links or sites.
I have many layers of digital security in place, from passwords to email filters to virus software and up. I have a handful of websites I use frequently, and I use secure browsers for them. I am cautious, intelligent, and skeptical in my internet use. We shred our mail, all of it.
And I got hacked anyway.
I have spent the last week dealing with the fallout – closing accounts, changing passwords, updating security information, changing contact info, installing even more layers of protection, deleting unauthorized users, filing fraudulent charges claims, returning merchandise I didn’t order, requesting refunds, and so forth. It’s a huge hassle, but I am so thankful for fraud departments – they make the process easier and a little less stressful. Knowing someone has gained access to your private information is bad enough; having to jump through a million hoops to clean up the mess it causes shouldn’t be necessary.