Should I go to Swansea?

Hi all,
Yesterday was a very “weird” day. As most of you know, my email account got hacked. I spent several hours on the phone with Yahoo, the German police, and informing my network, family, friends about the hacking. I believe any experience in life teaches us something. Let me share with you what this one taught me.

Let me first give you the roll out of the events.

Yesterday early morning, friends, business partners were calling me, sometimes simultaneously, to tell me that my email account got hacked. I noticed the importance of the hack when I accessed my email account and noticed that ALL my emails and contacts were gone!

A friend forwarded the hacker’s email. This email went to ALL my address book:

Hope you get this on time, I made a trip to Swansea, Wales and had my bag stolen from me with my passport and credit cards in it. The embassy is willing to help by letting me fly without my passport, I just have to pay for a ticket and settle Hotel bills. Unfortunately for me, I can’t have access to funds without my credit card, I’ve made contact with my bank but they need more time to come up with a new one. I was thinking of asking you to lend me some quick funds that I can give back as soon as I get in. I really need to be on the next available flight. Western Union transfer is the best option to send money to me. Let me know if you need my details(Full names location) to make the transfer. You can reach me via email or the hotel’s desk phone the numbers are, +447031xxxxx  or+44703xxxxxx. I await your response

The challenge was: How the hell am I going to get in touch with people to tell them that this is a scam!

Informing my network

First thing first. Take a deep breath and define priorities. I immediately changed all the passwords on my email accounts, blog, social media platforms. Then I contacted Yahoo online technical service and asked for an email and contact recovery. Supposedly, Yahoo can recover your datas within 24 hours.

Second step was to inform my friends and contacts. Do you guys know by heart your friends, professional contacts email addresses? I don’t. The obvious solution was my blog! I published an article and advertised it on Twitte and Facebook. I asked for my followers to re tweet in order to reach a maximum of shared connections. Thanks Jim, Luca and others for this!

Then, LinkedIn. I sent out a message to my 382 connections asking them to spread the word. In the meantime, I was on the phone with friends, business partners who were making sure I was okay, or informing me about the scam. 99% of them were very suspicious but wanted to make sure and therefore gave me a call.

Involve the Police

After reaching out to as many people as possible on social medias, I decided to call the Police. I was not sure about their reaction, as I am totally unaware of how the Police is prepared to handle cyber attacks, but I gave it a try anyways. I got in touch with the German Police (I live in Germany) and was happily surprised with the response.

I spoke with an IT Police officer who gave me a procedure to follow and what information he needs to officially investigate. I will obviously not disclose the details here as there is an ongoing investigation, but all I can say is that these guys take cyber attacks really really seriously.

I looked at my watch and realised that it was early afternoon. I started at 8.30 am! I found a phone number for Yahoo France and kept on calling to insist a the timing. The technical department had not replied yet and I was concerned that my datas would be lost if they didn’t come back asap.

Yahoo backed up my emails

By 6.30 pm, Yahoo backed up all my emails, but not my contacts. Thank God I could work again and access confidential documents, and also private stuff! I can now plot in manually my contacts. No big deal.

So what did this experience teach me?

It outlined many things, but I will emphasize on 3 points. Firstly the fantastic friends I have who called me to inquire whether I was fine, or if I knew that I got hacked. As I said earlier, most of them were suspicious by they’d rather make sure.

Secondly, the trustful professional network I have. Some of them were concerned and called me to find out. Others told the hacker to f*** off, or asked him information that only me could possibly know. My dear friend Tom Byer help me out a lot from Japan at 11 pm!!

Also, this experience put forward my ability to make the right decisions, to follow up, get help from friends and network, to inform about the problem, and ultimately to find a solution.

To all of you guys who helped me out, I say THANK YOU! What a privilege to have such a great and trusting network. What a privilege to have friends going out of their way, willing to help no matter what and make sure you’re okay.

The question now is: Should I spend my next holidays in Swansea Wales, just for kicks? Share your thoughts!

Karl Lusbec

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