Several weeks ago I got an email query about my bank account that raised my suspicion. It had the Bank of America logo and some information, but it requested more information about my account. That raised a red flag, and I did not respond and forwarded it to the fraud department at Earthlink.
Unfortunately, when I came home late Tuesday night from a meeting and was checking my email, I found an email from Earthlink with a notice about an upgrade to the software. It requested my password to complete the upgrade. As tired as I was, I responded without thinking—and you guessed it. Some spam operator compromised my account and stole my password. When I tried to access my account the next day, I was locked out because the operator was sending out spam using my account. I had to call Earthlink. They already were aware of the problem, and that’s why they had cut me off. When I provided adequate information that I was the owner of the account, the support person gave me a new password and reset the account. As far as I know, the spam didn’t go to the accounts in my address book. If it did, please let me know.
All this raises the question of Internet security. Since I use a Macintosh, I don’t have the problems with viruses that plague Windows users, but I guess that has made me lax about other security issues. We all get bogus offers in the mail and on the phone (even though I’m on the “do-not-call” list). I’ve been fortunate that my credit card information has never been compromised even though I buy a lot of stuff online.
My three web sites and blog are all inter-linked and tied to my email account. I also have a Yahoo email account that I use only for a few groups, and a Google email account that I never use, and a Mobile Me account. My Earthlink service does a good job of scanning junk mail so ordinarily it isn’t a problem, but they missed this one.
The point is that while we don’t want to become paranoid, it’s not a benign world out there on the web. Since I’m spread all over the web, my personal information is readily available. I want potential clients to be able to contact me easily, but I don’t want my identity to be compromised. It’s a delicate balance.
What’s your experience?