The Shoe Thief


It happens to most of us at one time or another.  Despite our best efforts, an enterprising little snot hacks into your game account.

It hadn't happened to me in a game I play live.  I had my blizzard account hacked many moons ago.   I was already out of the live game, so other than being a little miffed, I laughed about it.

Tonight I logged into EQ2 to play the last few hours of the city festival in Kelethin.  I wanted the new doors and a desk that is only available a couple of times a year.

Nothing appeared amiss at first glance.  I'd logged out previously on the winter festival island, which had since ended, and had been logged into a bank in town.  I didn't think anything of it.  I made a run out to the city festival tents and looked up to see how much plat I was carrying.  ZERO!  I thought about it for a minute and wondered why I had to zero plat, and zero gold.  Maybe I had sent some of it to my alts for housing or crafting needs?

I wasn't alarmed.  My bags weren't especially empty.  I ran to my house, and while I didn't see everything I thought I had, I knew I had done some redecorating for the holidays.

In the back of my mind, a little niggling itch kept screaming to be scratched.   I ran over to the bank to see if maybe I had accidentally put my money in the shared bank.   No such luck.  Increasingly concerned, I flipped over to my alt to check things out.


I wasn't wearing any shoes.

The truth conked me on the head.  I'd been hacked.

I sat staring at my laptop stunned for a few minutes.  Breathing way too fast and with my hands shaking, I yelled at Zeff to come over and look.  I didn't believe it really.  I  had to be seeing things.

He agreed with my assessment using small words to penetrate the panicked haze swirling around me.

With a few minutes, I had googled how to call Sony.  They quickly flagged my account, changed security things and gave me instructions on what to do next.

I called my bank, called lifelock, and got a new email address.

I'll be honest.  I am not an overly emotional chick.  I cry occasionally, but not often.  I don't remember things like most "normal" girls do.  I seriously have to pull out my blackberry to remember when my wedding anniversary is.  I am not going to remember your birthday unless some contact program tells me.  I'm just not made that way.

Being hacked shook me a great deal more than I expected.  While I am missing all the money on my characters, and a few items, it wasn't the ingame stealing which scared me.  Someone had access to my account, my name, address, last 4 of my credit card, and my email address.

How much could they use it?

Ok, while I may not be over emotional, I can make a mountain out of a molehill.  I went upstairs to talk it over with Zeff.  He's pretty good at realizing when I need a chill pill and not terribly shy about letting me know it!

He thought I should check my other MMO's.  After a few tense minutes where visions of empty bank accounts the universe over threatened my "only cry occasionally"  rule, I verified Stormreach, Middle Earth and Azeroth were unscathed.

The pondscum had only touched my EQ2.

Lifelock assured me my credit hadn't been touched.  My bank has a watch on my credit card.  I learned how to make a new email address and sync it to my blackberry.

All in all, I spent 4 hours making phone calls to secure all my data.

In all probability, the spawn of satan who hacked my account spent less than 5 minutes causing all this frustration.

It's about 3 am and I have changed my passwords to everything I can think of.  I am now using a program that creates a password for me each time I need it.  While not hacker proof, it's better than I had before.  Some 11 year old with an iphone can probably hack  me in a nano second, but I feel better none the less.

I have never had my home robbed.  I have had my purse stolen and car stolen.  Neither scared me the way the account hack today did.  The interwebz truly have created a level of interdependency that leave me open on all sides to attack.   I spent a few hours feeling like the details of my life were hanging out for anyone to use.  Hackers tend to share information.  If you get on their list, they tend to come back.

I am not overly preachy, but I am gonna get on a soapbox for a minute.

Obviously, I don't know how to keep you from being hacked. I do think there are lesson's to be learned from the negative experiences of life.

  • Don't over share.  You don't know who is on the other side of the screen name.
  • Don't share ANY password with ANYone.
  • Don't open attachments.  How may times do you have to hear this before you stop doing it?
  • Don't use your account name as your forum or community name.
  • Do rotate your passwords.  Yes, it's a pain in the arse, but trust me, tonight's marathon of convoluted automated phone menu's is more of a pain.
  • Do have anti virus, firewall and security software and understand how it works.  Having it, but turning it off because you don't know how to open or close a port, why your firewall is blocking your internet, or the computer does an auto update while you are gaming and it irritates you,  isn't an excuse.  Ignorance never is, learn it.
  • Do have a clue how to check your credit, call your bank or delete yourself from your online life to protect your data.    It's your job to know how to facilitate a needed change in an emergency.

Keep in mind, you can do all the right things, and bad things are still going to happen.  I kept my password safe, rotated my password every so often, and didn't share it with anyone.

Sony says the majority of their hacks seem to be occurring through email.  I am not sure how it happened in my case.  My email was hacked a few months ago by the fabulous gold farming maggots over in china.  I am not sure if these two instances are in any way related.  I DON'T know how they got in, but I am trying my level best to ensure I don't give them a second opportunity.

How much of your life could some nefarious hacker glean from your email?

Use more than common sense.  Be paranoid.  I'd rather be a little circumspect than go through this again.

Sony does have a policy in place that replaces my missing items.  I was lucky my characters were not deleted.  Not all games are so forgiving.  At this time, and to the best of my knowledge, if you are hacked in a Turbine game you are up a creek without a paddle.  Get hacked, get sad.  I had a kinmate in LOTRO who had to restart his lotro characters twice due to hackers who stripped him and deleted most of his characters.

Pay attention to those little notices your online game blasts through email and the log in screen.  If they start mentioning account security, take the hint and check your account, and change your password.

Want another surprise?

They didn't change my password at all.  The hackers took what they wanted and left it.  I don't know if they were hoping I wouldn't notice for a while, or if they were just lazy, but I am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Hacks happen.   Hackers suck.  Be careful out there.

I sent out the this tweet earlier this evening.

I would like to send a YOU ARE NOT WELCOME to whomever hacked my EQ2 account. Please enjoy the fruits of my gaming. *shakes her fist*

By the way, why did you take my shoes?

Game on!!!