Somebody doesn’t like me.
Okay, for regular readers, you know that I’ve pissed some people off on this blog over the last five years. And I am not unique. Pretty much everybody, except maybe Mother Theresa and Robin Williams, has someone who doesn’t like them. And they’re dead.
But somebody really, really doesn’t like me, and they’ve got a personal campaign going to harass me and discredit me with my friends and acquaintances. And I swear, I’m going to find out who it is. And when I do, I’m going to call them up and say “Why are you doing this to me?” If they are allowed to take calls in their jail cell.
It started about a year ago, when I began getting e-mails and calls from friends saying “Jim, I think someone may have hacked your e-mail account.” Well, sure enough, someone had. Someone got my password to my Hotmail account somehow, accessed my e-mail account, and sent gibberish e-mails to everyone in my address book. A lot of my blog readers were among those getting those weird e-mails.
Lillian is the tech support person at our house, and so I asked her what to do, and she said “Change your password. And make it something unrelated to you, that is not so easy to figure out. Something other than your last name.” (Well, gee, I had tried to keep my password simple so I could remember it when I needed it. Bad idea, it turns out.)
Well, I changed it to something harder to remember, and wrote it down and put it in my desk drawer in case I needed it. And then a few months later, it happened again. People started getting e-mails from me that I never sent. And once again, I started hearing about it. By now, I’m guessing, people are ready to tell me “Hey, Jim, please remove me from your address book. We don’t want to get a virus from you.” But people are nice, and no one did. They were just shaking their heads and saying to themselves “Geez, that Fuglie’s got a problem. I wish he’d get it fixed.”
Well, I sent an apology to everyone who let me know they had been getting these weird e-mails, and this time, my tech support person said “Get rid of Hotmail—it’s too vulnerable to hackers—and get a Gmail account.” So I did that last May. Closed my Hotmail account and opened a Gmail account with a password that itself is gibberish, and no hacker or hacker’s program will ever be able to figure out. So far, so good.
But when I closed my Hotmail account, I got an e-mail from the Hotmail people saying they were sorry to lose me, and just in case I wasn’t really serious, they were going to keep my account open for two months. That made me angry, but that’s their policy, so I had to live with it. And sure enough, my hacker kept sending stuff out to people from time to time. Until the account was finally closed for good on July 5.
Until this week, that is.
On Thursday night, Lillian said “Jim, someone has hacked your e-mail again.” Well, damn.
She showed me an e-mail she had just gotten. It said “Sup, Lillian.” And there was a link to some obscure website. And then my name. Here’s what it looked like, copied directly from her inbox:
From: Jim Fuglie <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 1:35 AM
Subject: From: Jim Fuglie
To: Lillian Crook (I’ve erased her e-mail address)
That’s it. See there, in the “From” line it says firstname.lastname@example.org. Well, I said, that’s impossible, because I closed that e-mail account. Well, yeah, but there it was, on her computer screen. WTF? How did that happen?
Then Friday morning I got a call from a friend of mine, asking if my e-mail had been hacked again. Well, damn. Sure enough, she had gotten an e-mail like the one Lillian got. Here it is:
Subject: From: Jim Fuglie
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 05:13:47 +0200
To: (I’ve erased my friend’s name and e-mail address)
You can see something a bit goofy in both—in the subject line, where it says “From: Jim Fuglie,” and in the second one, the “Subject” line is above the “From” line, which I’ve never seen before. Whoever is doing this knows what they are doing. (And don’t click on those links, by the way.No telling what night happen.)
My friend advised me to call law enforcement. I said I would consider that, but first I wanted to learn a little more. Because this was no ordinary hacking. This was someone going to the trouble of actually sitting down at a computer and somehow sending out personal messages, under my name, to my wife and friends. That’s scary. This was no random computer program running through a list of possible passwords, scoring a hit, and then generating a mass e-mail to the people in my address book. No, this was personal. To two people I know and care about. Two messages, one sent at 1:35 a.m. Thursday and the other at 5:13 a.m. Friday. Some spook who doesn’t like me sitting in the dark of night and sending messages to people close to me under my name. That freaks me out a little bit.
Well, anyway, later Friday morning I called a friend who has a computer science degree from UND and works in the tech industry and knows about this stuff, and explained to him what was going on. I told him I was especially perplexed by the fact this person was using my old Hotmail account, that had been long closed. He said he couldn’t be sure, but here is what he thought was happening right now:
He said there is a way (I can’t figure it out, but a techie can, apparently) that someone can send an e-mail and just type in your name and any old e-mail address in the “From” line, to make it look like that e-mail came from you, on that account. And neither you nor the person who was getting it would ever know the difference, unless they called you and said “Hey, did you send me this e-mail?” He said that person had probably captured my address book the first time it happened and was using that to send out these e-mails.
Well, I didn’t know that was possible, but it explains a lot. I asked him if that was illegal. He said maybe, depending on the circumstances. He’d need to study that a bit more. I said I would ask law enforcement to check on it. He said that would be a good idea.
He told me one other interesting thing. He said here might be a way to track who was doing this. He said there might be some tags or something like that (he used more technical terms) that could lead me to something called an ISP address, an Internet Service Provider, who might be able to track the e-mail to a specific computer. Well, wouldn’t that be something?
I’m going to do a little more checking. Then, if I think I am not going to be wasting their time, I’m going to call the cops. So, if whoever is doing this is also reading this blog, be forewarned. When the FBI shows up at your door, you better have dumped that computer in the Missouri River, or whatever river is closest.
And for the rest of you reading this, if you see anybody dumping a computer in a river in the next day or so . . .