Has a Hacker Really Hacked My Email Account?

//
Today, I received this lovely email. While I think it is complete BS and I certainly have no intention on taking any action on it, it *does* look like it was sent from my account, i.e., it appears that someone can send emails impersonating me. Do you have any advice what I should do about this?

Nothing.

The questionable email message that this person was reporting describes how this person’s account had been hacked, how changing the password wouldn’t help, and that it was being held for ransom to be paid in Bitcoin. And, indeed, it appeared to be “From:” this person’s email address.

Variations of this scam even include a password — a password that you’ve actually used.

Even so, “complete BS” is very accurate.

Though, if there is a password, then there is one thing you should do.

Read moreHas a Hacker Really Hacked My Email Account?

Don’t Lose Your Phone: Here’s What Can Happen (and How to Prepare)

Mobile phones are amazing devices. They’re much more than just having your email or social media at your fingertips; they’re truly portable general-purpose computers that also happen to be able to make phone calls.

We do a lot with our phones. Because they’re always with us, they’re one of our primary means of content consumption — everything from social media to news to maps to ebooks and more — as well as our primary means of communication (though ironically, rarely by actually using the telephone) and one of our primary content-creation devices as well, in the form of photos and videos.

As tiny computers, we’ve come to rely on them to store data, act as security keys, wallets, fitness trackers, automotive trackers, and dozens of things I can’t even think of right now.

Given everything we use our phones for, to say that we shouldn’t lose them is stating the obvious. And yet lose them we do. I’m going to review some of the things you need to be aware of when (not if) you lose your phone, and some of the ways you can mitigate the damage when it happens.

Read moreDon’t Lose Your Phone: Here’s What Can Happen (and How to Prepare)

I searched and found a Hotmail support number, but is it legit?

//

I Googled Hotmail telephone contact US, and one of the sites that came up was {redacted}, the Phone number on the site is: {redacted}. I called the number on this site and was put by the first caller to someone he described as his supervisor who with my permission could access my computer to resolve the problem.

I followed the instructions from the guy and allowed him to access my computer, then he asked me to open one of my hotmail accounts, which I did. He then showed me on my computer a number of files which he informed me were persons trying to gain access to my hotmail account,  and said that this and other things needed be cleaned out so the laptop could function effectively again.

He indicated that they provide a technical service to Hotmail for its customers.

Is the site a safe one to go to?
Is there a telephone number to contact Hotmail?
Should I allow him to access my computer?
Should I allow him to clean out what he says needs cleaning out?
If not, now that he had access to my computer have I opened myself to any risk and is there something I could do to prevent him from accessing my computer again?

That’s actually an excerpt of a lengthier question I recently received from someone experiencing difficulty logging into their Hotmail / Outlook.com account while travelling overseas, a very common and often unsolveable problem.

His approach seems sound on the surface: search for a Hotmail support number, and see if the person at the other end can help.

Unfortunately, this path typically leads to even worse problems.

Read moreI searched and found a Hotmail support number, but is it legit?

Why Am I Getting Spam from Myself?

//
I get email from:

someone@somedomain.com
<myemail@hotmail.com>

where “someone@somedomain.com” is someone I don’t know, but “myemail@hotmail.com” is, in fact, my email address. It as if I was getting spam from myself, but I did not send it.

How do I stop these emails from coming into my box? It’s usually for drugs or financial services that I don’t need or would never be interested in. How can they use my own email? I can’t block them as it says it is illegal to block my own email.

I’ll start with the bad news: there’s almost nothing you can do.

This is spam, pure and simple. Abusing your email address is only one of many techniques spammers use to throw their garbage into our mail boxes.

The remedies are pretty standard, albeit less than 100% effective.

Read moreWhy Am I Getting Spam from Myself?

Why Does My Account Keep Sending Out Spam?

//
Hi, Leo. I changed my password four times on Yahoo yet my account keeps sending out spam. I’ve emailed Yahoo with a spammers address. Where can I report someone who’s stolen my contacts to email people? At least I have the address of just the last one who stole my account. What should I do? People are annoyed because I keep sending out spam – four times in one month. What should I do besides changing passwords and security questions? Even if I change to a non-Yahoo for email don’t these people already have my contacts somehow? Is there a way to delete my contacts? How do I report these people? I feel like Yahoo did nothing with the last ones.

There’s a bucket-load of issues here, and quite frankly an awful lot of confusion.

This can be a very frustrating situation, but what happens next, if anything, depends on what’s really going on.

Read moreWhy Does My Account Keep Sending Out Spam?

Should I back up if my machine is infected?

//
I try to be careful about opening my email, but there’s a hacker out there who has the names in my address book. He or she sends out emails that look like they come from people I know. Their email address doesn’t show up, so I can see the address is not correct, but some made up address. The title is something like “Look here” and the message is “Hello, excellent website!” with a name of the website. I opened it thinking that the email was from my son. I got two of these kinds of emails and one after the other before I got suspicious and realized that I’d been hacked. So far, nothing bad has happened. Now I’m afraid to do a backup because it might mean the importation of the virus into my external backup drive. Is my thinking about this correct?

It is and it isn’t.

When people think their machine is infected, I typically tell people to backup that machine. Yes, you are backing up a possible infection, but that’s actually okay. You’re never going to actually restore that infection simply because you know that it’s there.

So why backup?

Let’s walk through the scenario.

Read moreShould I back up if my machine is infected?