Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Can Our Credibility Be Restored After Being Sullied by a Hacker?

Joe Ortiz' Emails, Blogs &
Web Sites Have Been Hacked, Big Time! Why?

     While searching the Internet to better understand the insidious act of hacking a person’s email accounts, their blogs, web and network sites, I ran across an article that stated: “Privacy woes continue to plague Face book this week following the revelation that a spam campaign is hijacking user accounts and posting messages on the Wall feature of user profiles.”
     I could relate to this because this past weekend I was a victim of an immense hacking attack I never thought I would ever experience. The sad but ironical aspect about the headline above is that the article was written on March 31, 2008 by Negar Salek in the SC (For IT Security Specialists) Magazine’s web site. Almost two years ago! I’m not naïve about Internet Security issues, I try to keep up with the numerous PC protection programs and I am extremely diligent about cleaning my PC at least twice a week.        
     Nevertheless, I was HACKED big time.
     The more horrific aspect is that all the folks on my email address books (over some 2000 names) were all sent a “Help” email under my email addresses to send me money because I was supposedly robbed of my wallet, credit cards, cell phones, laptop and other items at gun point while supposedly vacationing in London, England. To make matters worse, I was really vacationing for a few days in Palm Springs, California and did not have access to a computer to alert my contacts as soon as I found out this devious ploy had been launched on February 19, 2010.
     My daughter Christen was the first to alert me of this attack when she called me at 7:30 AM on the 20th: “Dad? What are you doing in London?” Then she burst out laughing because she knew I was already in Palm Springs and we were going to connect later that day to enjoy a barbecue at my brother Pete’s house in nearby Indio, California. She went on and read me the “Help” message that was sent out while at the same time my wife Martha checked her Blackberry and read the same message. “Yup” I was HACKED big time.
     Three days before this incident I had worked for about 24 hours (which also cost me about $300 in protection software) to fix and clean up another major virus attack (which restored my PC back to normal, if that is ever possible); but, I never imagined the attack also included the “Help” ruse launched against friends, relatives and colleagues.
     After my daughter and I spoke, my cell phone continued to ring for the next 48 hours and still hasn’t stopped yet. The calls came from many loving and beautiful friends, family members and colleagues from throughout the country who were worried I was stranded in London. I told them the “Help” message that went out under my name was a hoax, and told them to disregard it.
     At the barbecue party my daughter and I searched my web sites and email directories and could not access any of them. I was frozen out completely and there was no way I could warn any of my contacts as to what had happened. I was able to communicate with several friends and asked them to at least tell the folks in Face Book that I was not in London and to not fall or respond to the hoax. It helped! I just prayed and asked God to protect my contacts; unfortunately (so far) one person responded and sent the hacker $100 to the Western Union office in London, England. I apologized profusely but he told me not to worry; it’s only $100, but, more importantly, he was glad I was OK.
     As an author and a blogger, the Internet is an obviously great venue to promote my published books and to also share my many years of Bible studies with friends, family, colleagues and even strangers, which is my ministry. Credibility is crucial for any ministry (and individual ministers as well) and I hope I have conducted myself in a professional and integrity-filled manner. My pain with this attack is that my credibility has been sullied to a certain degree, where probably some of my contacts immediately deleted me from their “contacts” list after seeing the despicable “Help” email message. I don’t blame them. Some folks emailed me on my newly created face book account (which I quickly created to send out warnings to former contacts on the compromised account I had before the attack), who apologized to me for even thinking I would stoop so low as to send out the “Help” email message. Nevertheless, my reputation has been besmirched.
     I have always believed the greatest asset one can ever have is a good reputation; better than even power, fame and riches. Those eventually dissipate, but good or bad reputations stay within the annals of history forever!
     As a veteran of many years as a journalist, radio and television talk show host, news reporter and columnist (and now a blogger of theological issues), I have always tried to be as ethical as is humanly possible. This attack has not helped my credibility; however, as some of my dearest and closest friends have consoled and encouraged me since the attack, they remind me that the devil does not like it when he is discredited (which is my goal as a blogger) and he and his demons will do anything within their powers to bring me down. But they can’t!
     I have no idea who is truly responsible for this attack. It may a single individual who lives in London. England, or it may be a cabal of anarchists who have launched an attack on bloggers who share God's words and wisdom throughout the world. Whoever it is, we have been promised that he or she or they will pay (big time) in the long haul!
     My friends reminded me over and over again of that one Bible verse that assures us that we will eventually be vindicated for our efforts and to continue the fight: “Greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world, (1 John 4:4)”
     Although we may come under many more attacks in our ministerial journey, the biblical truths and wisdom found in God’s word that we preach and share with mankind will prevail in the end.

Joe Ortiz is the author of The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation (published by Author House). For more information, click on Joe Ortiz

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