Gmail hacked; Robbed at gunpoint and stranded in London?

Not so long ago, you might have gotten an email from me that stated I was robbed at gunpoint and stranded in London with no money. If so, you probably figured out that my gmail was hacked. What you might not have figured out is that I’d rather be robbed at gunpoint and stranded in London than have been hacked. Not only was it heart wrenchingly strenuous to recover my gmail, but I lost thousands of email messages, had to set up extra security for gmail, still haven’t figured out exactly how I got hacked, and had to send an embarrassing email to the hundreds of people who got my London spam (most I hadn’t talked to in YEARS) when I’m one of those people who should know how to avoid getting hacked.

I thought I was impervious. After all, one of the lessons I learned from working at GoDaddy.com was how to create strong and unique passwords. I generally have passwords that are alphanumeric, mixed capitals, unique to each account. But once one account was hacked, it was easy to hack into the other account because they were the recovery email for each other.

On the bright side, although both my Yahoo! and gmail accounts were hacked, my Yahoo! account was mostly complete when I recovered it. Gmail, however, was decimated – thousands of messages deleted from inbox, contact list gone, spam sent, settings changed.

Recovering Accounts

When I found out I’d been hacked (both my Yahoo! mail and gmail), I began trying to recover my accounts. I started with gmail, and what a convoluted process that was. If your gmail was hacked, I strongly recommend you read about the account recovery process here: How to successfully recover a disabled gmail account. This guy goes into all the detail you need, including recommendations for avoiding this situation in the future. The only update I have to his information is that it can take longer than 15 minutes. I recovered my account 1.5 hours after submitting the recovery form. I actually thought my recovery was going to be rejected, it took so long.

What helped me the most was having my gmail inbox still open on my laptop and using my iPad to recover my account. This helped me name four of my most frequently named labels and the email addresses of five frequently emailed contacts (although I could have recovered email addresses from my phone, if needed). The other thing that helped me was remembering the approximate year I joined gmail and the person who invited me.

Recovering my Yahoo! mail was so much easier. Although all of my account information had been changed, including my gender, birth date, birth year, and security question, Yahoo! allowed me to go back to the security questions I’d set up before the hack, I answered them, and I was in.

Setting up extra security

I absolutely do not want to ever ever go through this again. So, after recovering and cleaning up the mess, I set up Google’s Two-Step Verification. Lifehacker covers it best: Set Up Google’s Two-Step Verification Now for Seriously Enhanced Security for Your Google Account.

So what happened, anyway?

Virus scans didn’t turn up anything suspicious on my computers. My best guess is I managed to duplicate a password somewhere. Considering the crazy number of sites that require accounts, I can see how duplication can eventually occur.

Going forward, I’ll be more careful to avoid duplication. And I’ll file my email messages so I don’t lose thousands if I ever get hacked again. Leaving messages in the inbox is just a bad habit anyway.

Best way to meet a goal?…don’t set one.

Well.

I started out last week with the best of intentions, but I didn’t meet many of my goals. This leads me to believe that I’m better off not setting any. Kidding.

I did get through quite a bit last week. I got through a rough draft of my novel outline and started a bit of writing. However, I’ve already taken a step back to revisit the outline. It needs more, and I think I need to run it by a dearfriendwhoshouldhaveherownblogbecauseshe’ssofunnyandreadsover100booksperyear*.

Other accomplishments of late? Mayorships and badges galore on foursquare! Go, me.

*Yeah, I called you out on it, Kim. You owe it to the book blogging world :)

Sunday updates and goals – Progress!

We have progress! Yay! Here are the numbers:

  • # of words written: zippo, but I started an outline
  • Blog posts: two (three if you count this one)
  • Contract work: After finishing a complete rough draft last week, I haven’t done a single thing this week
  • Office de-cluttering: One box organized; one bag of trash
  • Books read: One

These are my goals for this week:

  • # of words written: finish outline
  • Blog posts: two (other than this one)
  • Contract work: Need to reconnect with client on needs
  • Office de-cluttering: get through two boxes
  • Books read: one
  • Play with my daughter: always!

There’s more, but I really need to get to bed at a decent time tonight. I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately.

Breaking through the book barrier with The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake got me through my reading funk. Thanks TPSOLC! I finished it a couple of days ago, and it was fabulous. It was quick, original, and I loved the way it flowed. If you want a quick read, get this one. Just don’t try to get it from the library. I was on the hold list at the library when I ordered the book off Amazon. I was 25th out of 39 when I cancelled the hold, and I started out at 41.

Since we’re talking about books we recommend, I just found out that one of my favorites is coming to theaters soon. I loved “Never Let Me Go”, and I’m excited to see the movie. I’m not as excited about Keira Knightley being in it, but they didn’t consult me on the casting. Woe is me.

And that leads me to another book gone movie… “How Starbucks Saved My Life.” Ugh. This was terrible, and I can’t believe someone (Tom Hanks even – I do question his judgment these days) thought it would make a good movie. This was the best review I found:

How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Disappointing Memoir

I tried to find a good book blogger review of it, but I couldn’t find one that didn’t suck up to Michael Gates Gill as if he was the best thing since the pumpkin spice latte.

So, for good reads, skip the Starbucks memoir, but by all means, have a PSL. It’s really good iced, and I bet it would be even better with a slice of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/30/books/review/Genzlinger-t.html

August was a dud where reading is concerned

I am so disappointed that I didn’t keep up with my book/week goal during the month of August. I am now at least six books behind for the year, and I really hope I can catch up, although September isn’t looking much better.

Luckily, we’re going to Sydney for three weeks later this year. I may be able to catch up on some reading then. If not, I’ll just have to get some Georgette Heyer books, because I love those and plow right through them. They’re so easy to read and so quick that reading Heyer feels like cheating.

In the meantime, I’m currently reading:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

And I’m loving it! Great book so far. In fact, I’m heading to bed so I can get a little bit of reading in.