Monday, January 9, 2012

Those Pesky Electronic Evildoers

It’s gone from “it can’t happen to me” to “why doesn’t it happen all the time?”

Although my identity hasn’t exactly been stolen, I’ve definitely expended a lot of energy dealing with identity issues in the ether world.

My problems started somewhere in the mid-2000s, when I prepared for a work flight, only to find that another Mister Muleboy*, no middle initial, was on a “no-fly” list.  This was a *major* pain in the ass, and really did threaten my travels (and thus my job – I’m a pond-hopper looking to upset the nation’s apple carts).  AND the security bureaucracy was singularly unresponsive.  But I eventually got things cleared up, and arguably now have an easier time traveling now than I might otherwise have had.

Later in the mid-2000s, I had a bozo at work hack my google account.  Other than posting some “uber-Muleboy” posts and comments, I largely came out of that unscathed – he neglected to change my password (and argued that he intended me to know what he’d done, and meant no harm).  I became more scrupulous re: passwords, and also opened a commercial email account through which I intended to do most (but not all) of my online business/shopping, saving my previously existing account for personal email..

 Of course, like all things mule, I wasn’t particularly rigourous in my use of the account, so I buy shit on Amazon through different accounts than eBay, through yet different accounts for other merchants.  But I always used one of three  methods of payment -- a single debit card,  Google  Checkout, or PayPal. No credit for yer boy (yer mule).

Mid-December – the height of the shopping schedule, of course—my debit card got swiped.  Not even protected by the differing credit card policies, I watched a bad guy establish a direct line to my checking account.  An online account in Europe put through a series of charges on the account, right up until it had authorized charges up to my last red cent.

Thank Gahd that the bad guys had to go through an online accumulator – the charge card unit through which lots of small businesses (and porn sites, and other shady industries) make and process their charges.  I called these folks up, just livid (and, frankly, scared) only to hear that they’d detected the activity as “likely fraudulent, and had halted the charges.  The authorizations stayed in place, of course, so I was cashless for a while.  But if the bad guys had put through a succession of charges in uneven amounts, [rather than $50, $100, $100, $100, $100 etc.], all of the charges would have gone through, and I’d’a been fighting my bank.

I changed the debit card, of course,

Well, I’ve gone back in and changed all passwords, using far more passwords and far more of my limited brainpower (memory is the first thing to . . . what was I talking about).  And I’ve been real consistent (anal) in my daily review of my accounts.

Well, over the weekend, my commercial account got hacked.  Which had direct access to my Google Checkout, which could have been really ugly.

Except that  the Google Checkout was still tied to my shitty, canceled debit card.  My bank called today to say that some payments had been attempted again from the debit card.

I may usually land on my hooves, but this is getting ridiculous.

How, exactly, does this not happen more often?  Anyone who does any online shopping – and I do almost all of mine online these days --  has to realize that they dole out their information all of the time.  At least their card or account information.  And just because a site has a secure https: point of entry – that info is going somewhere on the other end. And where there’s a “somewhere,” there’s a person.

I won’t open up the issues of an attack on our information system, which if successful would cripple this  country, and make earlier evil deeds seem as consequential as kids ringing a doorbell.

Of course, unless something changes, I haven’t been out a dime, and this is just alarmist bullshit.  Which wouldn’t surprise me at all, either.

yours, MM

* you’ll be shocked to learn that this may be a pseudonym. . . .

** how’d you like the ramped up “mule” refernces?  Prettylame, weren’t they?


Mister Parker said...

You know how you're paranoid about the government? This is the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night.

Hang in there, bub.

Lupner said...

Totally traumatized.

The Grim Reaper said...

Mix this with the government.

You think anybody will ever mount any meaningful challenge to the status quo that the status quo ain't comfortable with?

Oh, yeah -- the hackers can eff with the status quo. . . .

You'll all wish you were with me. . . .

Tom-a-Noddy-mous said...

Mama, weer all crazee now

Tomanonymous said...

....I just remembered that's Slade, not the Status Quo.