Some time ago, I had a hacker scare that turned out to be a hoax. In one way, it is as bad as a real hacker: it takes time to sort out. Then there is the shock, the jolt that costs you peace of mind. These things make people suspicious for no good reason. What happened that evening cost me a lot of work because my first reaction was to warn my friends. When it dawned on me that it could be a hoax, I’d already done a lot to prepare a warning. Once, I’d calmed down it turned out to be an interesting situation. It made me aware of the vulnerability everybody suffers – who ventures online. The worst of it was to ponder the rapidity with which an internet hack could spread.
It wasn’t real, but it could’ve been. That is what makes the event so disturbing. There are people out there who take pleasure in or have fun, making people scurry around to stop or prevent, imaginary attacks. It seems to be an industry, just like the real McCoy: the site attackers, the hackers, the bitcoin miners. This is the downside of the world wide web. Thinking back, it occurred to me that fraud was committed via snail mail, so, in a way the difference isn’t that great. Also, chain letters abounded before the internet, and many people fell in on those traps.
What are the consequences of such insights? Should we all go off the internet, stop sending letters, close our phone contracts, and only communicate with people we meet eye to eye? No, we shouldn’t. People lie even when they are face to face with one another. There are predators in all wakes of life, hackers, and hoaxers, and conmen/women, every variety of fraudster can get at you, wherever you are. It doesn’t help to bury one’s head in the sand. A good helping of common sense, paired with knowledge of how to find information and how to protect vital information is a necessity, but it is possible to avoid the worst attacks. A hoax is relatively harmless, but it is annoying. Thankfully, that’s where it ends. Once you’ve figured it out.
© HMH, 2021