A journalist’s encounter with cyber criminals
In about five minutes, I got a mail in my other email account, telling me that Hannah is requesting that I contact her urgently, I got a bit confused, and many questions flooded my thoughts, could it be a computer generated mail?
Two emails followed immediately, one said, “You have changed your password, if it is not you, then re-change it, another said you have removed your phone number from your email” I got confused the more.
I stepped out of my office to inquire from the IT guys if they had any knowledge of what was happening in my email system and I started getting calls.
In a matter of 10 minutes, I had received more than 20 calls from some of my email contacts, some said, they have been asked to contact me urgently, others said I was requesting for 500 euros because I was stranded somewhere in Turkey.
It immediately dawned on me that my email account has been hacked. My immediate reaction was to try and change my password, however, when I attempted, I realized that my password has been changed so I had been locked out of my account.
I tried to keep my head levelled, I followed the email promptings from my other mail and managed to change the password again, but I noticed that I was not receiving any emails in my rather busy yahoo account.
Friends kept calling me, some told me they would engage the hackers to see if the conversation could lead to their arrest.
In a short while, these cyber criminals had succeeded in wiping my entire email contacts off.
I was unable to get back to my contacts with a counter message, I resorted to using my phone to inform everyone that my account has been hacked, I used other platforms like Facebook and updated my Whattsapp status to suit my hacking status.
It felt a bit devastating, it could equal to losing my bank account but for the fact that I had another email address, I got consoled.
Now let me share a few amateur advice I got after this incident. I was told to change my password frequently, usually, the password has to be a mixture of capital letters and small letters as well as some figures.
“If you are unsure of an email, please do not open it at all, it is better deleted than attempt opening.”
The Internet cafes are other places where emails could be easily hacked, sometimes, at an internet café, you could be timed out, when that happens, any person who logs in after you, will have access to your email and do anything with it. Please beware.
In our so-call Information Technology age, I think the police also need to have knowledge on the cyber crimes. Sakawa (Cyber Crime) has become a bane on our society and to our shame, there are people who pride themselves as cyber criminals without any shame.
I could liken these cyber criminals to armed robbers, however, they do not attack people physically but through the Internet.
I could only conclude that being attacked by a cyber criminal is no fun at all and should be treated as real crime, not to be ignored, it seems our laws are weak in that respect. Beware!!!
By Hannah Awadzi