Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

I’ve done quite a few television interviews in my lifetime, but no one would consider me rich. So when my mother received an e-mail from me last weekend telling her to click on a link to watch my NBC interview about how I’d discovered the secret to becoming wealthy, she knew it was a fake. And I knew I’d been hacked.

Some spammer or scammer used my MSN hotmail account to message my contacts. It was bound to happen sooner or later. I’d used the same password for at least a decade.

These days, it seems that nearly everyone has been hacked at least once. Most of us just change our passwords, tell our friends and family to ignore the weird messages and run a virus scan on our computers. But a security reporter for a UK-based publication for IT professionals ended up in a typing race akin to arm wrestling with his hacker:

What followed was an odd game which I think might make for an interesting TV show, perhaps on cable. Both the hacker and I responded to the replies as fast as we could, both using my Hotmail account.

“Yes I really am stuck in Spain, send money!” “Ignore that, I’ve been hacked, that’s not me!” “No, ignore him, he’s the hacker, have you sent the money yet?” And it was happening in real-time on MSN Messenger: “Hi Craig, did you get my email?” “Craig ignore this, I’ve been hacked, block me.” “Don’t ignore it, I need the money for my flight home!”

It was scary, intrusive and violating. And in hindsight, sort of funny. I sent a message to the hacker, entitled "To the hacker", so there couldn’t be any doubt.

If you haven’t changed your password lately, now’s the time.

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