Our Internet email provider was hacked recently, and our email
address was one of those stolen. You suffered because you received
bogus and dangerous mail. We learned a great deal in many hours of
handling the fall-out and getting the hack closed. This is what
we've learned and think you should know, too:
1) Everyone can be hacked.
2) Hacking doesn't necessarily leave a computer with a virus. The
hacking computer gets in once, snags all the info it needs to use
your email, and copy your addresses, and departs.
3) Opening hacker emails is not the danger. The danger is in
clicking on links within hacked emails. NEVER click on a
link unless you KNOW the link or are absolutely sure from
the content of the email from a trusted source, that it is
something you want to see. (Once, simple opening was a danger. Way
back when we all downloaded our email to read it, rather than just
clicking to open on our email server, as most do now, simply
opening such an email could release a virus into your
4) Hacker emails/Hacker computer programs are very smart, but
not as smart as we are. The computer reads your emails and uses
words you use often, in subject lines. But the words are not
sensible, they do not hang together.
5) Hacker emails are often forwards (FWD in the subject line).
Be suspicious of all forwards. For many years now we have almost
always deleted forwards without even opening them. (Apologies to
our friends who may have wanted us to see "X" and we did not. We
figure it is far better to apologize later, and hear belated news
than to chance a hack.)
6) Hacked email is common. We receive at least a few suspect
emails every week, as do most people who get a lot of email.
7) Never forward a hacked email or suspected hacked email. If it
has a link in it, that action serves the hacker's purpose of
multiplying the chances that someone will intentionally or
accidentally click on it. If you wish to alert the friend to the
hacking, delete the suspicious email, create a new email and send
8) Hackers are not operating out of a desire to cause mischief.
Hacking is big money, Huge money. The intent is not to put nuisance
viruses or even killer viruses in your computer but to cause people
to click to sites that then silently suck information from the
connected computers. The hacking operation continues with feeding
that information to computer programs that then can access banks
and other financial point under assumed identities -- it's not your
paltry account they target but the bank itself -- and divert money.
Money that we all end up paying for because a robbed institution
has to absorb such a loss and the programming to battle it as an
As for us, Janet Macunovich and Steven Nikkila:
1) We do not and will not forward to you. We send directly to
you, as a blind copy if it is our newsletter. If we are replying to
your email, we send directly to you with a "Re:" of the same
subject line you sent to us.
2) Our email subject lines may be disjointed sometimes when we
are listing multiple topics within a newsletter but they do make
sense with whatever you see in the first lines of the email you
open from us. For instance, we always have the newsletter number
and the first lines of our newsletter are always our website name,
the newsletter name, number and date.
3) We will not send you links except to GardenAtoZ.com
4) We never share your email address. The worst part of this
current hacking (the hack is at AOL's end, and is the worldwide
virus you may have heard of in the news, which security programs
were completely unprepared for) is that we are seeing your emails
in the open, not private. We are so sorry for that. We've done all
our own mailing-out, the two of us working at it for hours with
every newsletter, because we did not even want to give your
addresses to a mailing service. We are very sorry.
5) We never advertise or endorse in our emails, so we will never
be sending you to some site other than GardenAtoZ no matter how
worthy the cause.
6) You can recognize our messages because they are always more
wordy rather than less wordy. We are learning in some cases to use
the 140-characters-or-less protocol of the new world that Tweets
but it's a second language...