Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Scare

It was evening, I was working on my computer at home, and I clicked on the link to one of my blogs - a strange message appeared - "Your blog has been removed".

How strange, I thought, I had checked it 15 minutes earlier and it was working all right. Curious, I tried to open my other blogs, the same strange message appeared. All my blogs were gone.

Then I noticed my Gmail account had disconnected and there was a message that my password was wrong. I tried to connect to the Gmail account and the message said that I had changed my password. So I could not connect to my Gmail account.

I keep a copy of all my gmail posts so that was not a problem, but I was worried that someone could use my email account to send those fraud messages asking for help such as "that I was stranded in London and needed money".

I panicked, I had heard of hacking of gmail accounts.

How is it possible for someone to find out my password of Gmail? It is a real tough password (even I can't remember it) and I use it only for Gmail. At home, I did not even need to enter it, because no one else uses my computer so I am always connected to that Gmail account.

After another ten minutes, on trying to access Gmail again, I found a message that they had noticed some unusual activity on my account and I was asked to give my cell phone number to receive a security code. When I entered their security code, my account was restored.

A short time later, all my blogs were also restored.

After this, I have changed my password again, but I am worried. How did the hackers get my Gmail password and get in?

I have checked my computer for virus and malaware, but it seems clean. The only unusual thing that had happened yesterday was that while searching for something on Google, I had opened a page that had persistent pop-ups that refused to go away. At that time, my Gmail was also open. Whenever I tried to close those pop-ups new ones opend. It was strange because, normally my browser (Chrome) blocks all pop ups. After 3-4 minutes of struggle, through "Ctrl-Alt-Canc" I had managed to close off my browser and those annoying pages.

It had happened 5-6 hours before the Gmail scare episode. Could that be related to the account hacking?

What else can I do to improve my computer security?

And, if you have received an email from me yesterday saying that I am in trouble and need help, cancel it. It is not from me. I am fine.

***

9 comments:

  1. Sunil, one thing you can do in Chrome is to install the Web of Trust (WOT) extension. Whenever you see a link, WOT tells you if it's safe or not.
    http://www.mywot.com/

    There is also the Adblock extension. This will block all ads and popups.
    http://download.cnet.com/Adblock-for-Chrome/3000-33362_4-75000931.html

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  2. I think this was an act of proactive behavior on part of Google. I think Gmail is safer than other accounts. I have seen the stranded-in-London emails from hotmail and yahoo accounts, but not yet from Gmail accounts. Also, Google has started this 2-step verification (http://youtu.be/zMabEyrtPRg), which they want people to use. This may have been an covert invitation to use it.

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  3. hehe lol :) fun reading :)
    You don't remember your password sir ?? better mail me i will remind it to you whenever you ask :P :P

    If someone access our account, since the ip address will change, gmail will notify us. then it is better to change the password, i have been alerted twice, especially after blogging threats started increasing.. there are several russian sites providing traffic to my blog..
    I think it is better to signout every time and keep changing our passwords !

    Awareness :)
    http://deepakkarthikspeaks.blogspot.com

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  4. Good to know that you are not in trouble in London and don't need money :-) (No, I did not receive any such mail from your account)
    I am using Google's 2 step verification. Every time I log on from a new computer (that I have to do during travels), I am asked to put a code which Google provides on my mobile.
    Now I don't know whether mobiles too can be hacked!!

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  5. Thanks for all the advice!

    I did look at the "two step verification" by Google but I am worried that it may be difficult to use it when I am travelling in different countries, because my mobile does not always work, especially in remote rural areas.

    @Karthik: Glad you had fun reading it. Now I can also join you in LOL, when it happened, I was not laughing! :)

    @Aativas: Thanks for confirming that you didn't receive any requests for money from my email account. :)

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  6. Well I don't know much about hacking etc but it must have been a scary experience to get a message like that and having your blog disappear! I once had a problem with my face book account where I found that I was not able to access it from my phone. Later on I was asked to change my password and was told that someone from Bangladesh had been trying to access my FB ID.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly, that is the scary part. Any way I have read far worse stories than what happened to me so I am counting myself as the lucky ones - by chance, when it happened, I was on computer and noticed it almost immediately .. if I had been away, I would not have even noticed the message from Gmail asking me my cell phone number for security code ..

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  7. Ahh this was just fun !! Scary that we can be hacked easily too.
    Nice read ..

    ReplyDelete

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