It took me the better part of three hours, over the span of a couple of days, to straighten out the mess generated by a machine. The short version of this story is this: My e-mail account was hijacked by a spam machine that spewed vile and ugly messages into in-boxes that had, until then, remained free of such annoyance. They got through because they were disguised as me. The simple fix was to change my password and delete the forty-plus messages that were bounced back to me because someone else has a better spam filter than I do. Or the address was closed. The upside was that it gave me a chance to update my contact list. The downside was the responses I felt compelled to send in response to all those who were affected by this "victimless crime."
I got to explain to my mother how the link to a web site for adults only wasn't my idea, but one generated by some way-too-clever hacker with the need to get this information into as many computers across the globe as possible. Rather than do the straightforward thing and simply make up an address, this cyber-cretin found a way to unlock my account and send smut across Al Gore's Internet. You're not going to open e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org, but if you got a note from your friend, or your son, imploring you to "look at this," you just might. Especially if that person just happened to be this supposedly tech-savvy guy who runs the computer class at his elementary school.
Embarrassed? Sure. Violated? A little. Mostly I'm sorry that anyone would have to take the time to promote themselves through any sort of borderline criminal activity. For now I will be doing the computer version of obsessive compulsive disorder and going through all of my transactions and communications while changing my password on an hourly basis. Ever vigilant and extremely put off by the whole mess.