I am very suspicious of online activity and I try my best to maintain my privacy. I dropped FaceBook many years ago because of the numerous security risks that were known even at that time. Because of my former job with the military, I was informed about the dangers of online activity when not taking precautions to protect myself.
I spoke with Hal repeatedly through the years about his use of social media. My concern grew when he got involved with the VR community and the complicated things that went on there. I explained to Hal that VR was a perfect hideout for hackers and other people of dubious character. Hal always told me that I worried too much, and that he was careful. I knew from the experiences he talked about with me that this wasn’t the case, but I had to defer to his judgment.
A few days ago, Hal told me he suspected that his account had been hacked by one of his VR “friends”. Sadly, this turned out to be the case. Luckily, this person was more of an asshole hacker than a malicious one, but that didn’t make me feel any better. When Hal told me that he was getting text messages on his phone from that person, my inner alarms went off. I have to take Hal’s word that he never gave his number to anyone in the VR community. I explained to Hal that this was the final, incontrovertible truth that he had been hacked.
It has been pure turmoil watching Hal take every precaution AFTER the damage has been done. Thankfully, none of his bank accounts or credit cards have been hacked….yet. I spoke with a former colleague who works cybersecurity and put him in touch with Hal. Hal had to hear someone other than me tell him to reevaluate his online activity, and to take precautions BEFORE something like this happens again because it will.
Hal finally understands what I was telling him for years. I’m not upset with him, I just wish I could have done more to convince him that online is a dangerous place. Everyone needs to be careful. I hope that the scenario is almost over, and that life can get back to so-called normal around here.
As I joked with Hal for several years, reality is bad enough. I want no part in sone online parody of real life!