What I Learnt From Getting My Email Hacked

Asian Man With Phone - Gmail Hacked

I woke up yesterday, turned on my phone and noticed that I’d inadvertently sent 500 emails overnight. I’d been hacked.

And it hacked me off … big time!

At 7:32 am, I’d already received a bunch of replies suggesting that I had a virus. Some were from friends. Some were from acquaintances, like my heat pump electrician who installed my heater 6 years ago. Others were from Spacemakers clients, who see me as an email guru and trust what I have to say … awkward but humbling!

Worse still. All of my Gmail contacts had gone. Deleted!! This list contains the details of everyone I know and work with. I look after it. Keep it up to date. And use it regularly.

Now I felt really anxious + peeved + overwhelmed + extremely hacked off …

It took me all morning to restore my contacts (yes, you can do this with Gmail, thank goodness!) … then change my passwords … then email everyone I could think of … then reply to others who had responded to my original bogus email. I even fielded a phone call from a person I’d met 10 years ago at a conference in Melbourne. Random. But we had a nice chat.

Musing From Someone Who’s Been Hacked

This incident made my morning suck. It wasted a chunk of my time and disrupted a bunch of people that I cared about. It was one of those moments in life that made me stop, think and reflect …

I said to Tim (Spacemakers): “I don’t get it. How do people make money out of hacking into my email account? Do they look for security passwords to use or sell on?” His response surprised me: “It might be for fun. There’s people that do this stuff … just because they can!”

Really? People with the intelligence to hack into password protected e-mail accounts spend their time doing this … just for kicks?

The problem is, I know he’s right. We all have the potential for great good and evil. There’s right and wrong, beauty and brokenness, justice and greed within us all. And it comes out in different ways. I yell at my kids when I’m tired. Others hack into Gmail accounts …

The same goes with technology. It’s great and it’s crap. All at the same time …

Technology Wears Its Benefits On Its Sleeve …

Technology is created by people and used by people. Like us, it is embedded with both good and bad.

Here’s a saying that I love from Tim Challies:

Technology wears its benefits on its sleeve, but the drawbacks are buried deep within [1]

With every new technology, we only hear of the benefits. They’re promoted, tweeted and marketed in glossy colour. The iPad will solve this problem. Google Glass will solve that problem. It’ll make you smarter, thinner, browner, faster, fitter, sexier.

The reality is that all technologies are embedded with certain ideas. And these ideas bring both benefits and new problems. It’s not until we’ve used a technology for a while, become shaped by and reliant on that technology, that we start to experience the problems embedded within.

Like getting hacked. Or losing all the contact details of your friends overnight. Or feeling overwhelmed with emails. Or having so many passwords that you need ‘remember-my-password’ software to help you get by!

But The Drawbacks Are Buried Deep Within

Don’t get me wrong. I love technology. I love that I can email a group of my friends if I want to. I love that I can keep in touch with someone who I met 10 years ago at a conference. I love that I can type and edit this post when overlooking the sea, on a park bench.

But let’s not pretend that technology will solve all our problems. It’s made by people. And therefore has embedded within it both good and bad. Be optimistically cautious when it comes to technology. Some problems will be solved, yet new problems will also be created. If you only see the good, then look for the bad. If you only see the bad, then look for the good.

Take this approach and you’ll experience the best of what technology can bring and avoid the worst of what it tries to take away.

And in the meantime, if I email you a Google Drive document at 3:21am, please delete. It’s most likely spam.

Do you have a ‘frustration with technology’ story … please comment below.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Challies, T. (2011). The Next Story: Life And Faith After The Digital Explosion. Zondervan, Michigan, p. 74

2 comment

  1. If you don’t have 2-factor Authentication on your Google account – get on to it right now. Whenever you log in to your account with a new device, it sends you a sms to your mobile, and you need to type in that code. It’s a little annoying to begin with (although only once per device), but will hopefully save the grief that you (and others) have experienced.

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