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My Work Email Was Hacked. Here’s How We Handled It.

September 16, 2014 / in General Information / by

Post author: Mic Johnson

Thursday, September 11, 2014.

It’s a day I’ll remember for a very long time…for a couple of reasons. It’s always a day when people all across the world pause and remember those who lost their lives, and the families that were left behind, on September 11, 2001.

This year it was also a special day for my fellow Blue Guru Jason Terry. If you haven’t seen his blog post about it, it was truly an amazing story. I wish I would have seen it in person. (Remembering 9/11…Something Special Happened Today.)

My day started with sorrow in my heart because of the tragic events of 9/11 and then the morning picked up as I was excited to be playing in a golf tournament that day. The tournament was put on by the Urban Financial Services Coalition in Kansas City, whose mission is “To enhance the representation of minorities in professional positions in the financial services industry and promote better access to financial services for low-to-moderate income populations and communities.”

I was invited by my friend (and Financial Advisor) Archie Kangethe and also played with my good friends Jacob Wayman and Jamie Jones. The weather that day was supposed to be around 65 degrees and sunny. I was so excited to enjoy the gorgeous weather, a round of golf with friends, all the while supporting a great cause. We had a great time, but unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate. It stayed cloudy all day, misted on us at times, and the wind was cold and biting in spots throughout the day.

Little did I know that the cold and gray weather was foreshadowing for what would happen when I got back to my home office.

Hack emailAs I was catching up on emails and doing a few things for work, my phone rang. It was Jason, and he said:

“Hey, I just got a really weird email from you, asking me to click on a link. Your email account might have been hacked.”

I had no idea what he was talking about and hadn’t heard from anyone else.

And that’s when all hell broke loose.

1. As I was talking to Jason, my phone began vibrating like crazy with text message after text message and incoming calls.

2. At the same time, I started to get email after email, some from people I hadn’t communicated with in years, with messages saying:
“Did you mean to send this to me?”, “I think you got hacked”, “Is this real?”, “What is this? I wanted to make sure it was from you before I clicked on it”, and on and on.

3. In a panic as my phone and email kept blowing up, I called Joe Tierney at Umzuzu (they are the best Google Apps guys around and helped us get set it up for Blue Gurus). He helped me get my password reset on my Google Apps account and shared a post from their blog on what steps I should take: I Think My Gmail Was Hacked? At the same time, his fellow Umzuzu-ite Tony Sheets helped recover all of my contacts and handled some other technical items behind the scenes.

Mic FB Email Hack Update4. While I was doing all of that, Jason put together an email using MailChimp and sent it out to the 3,000 contacts/email addresses I exported from my Gmail account. We ended up getting several “THANK YOU” messages from people who appreciated the email explaining what happened and our response to it. Others told us how well written the email was. Jason gets all of the credit for that because I was too busy running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off!

5. Jason and I then both set up 2-factor authentication on our Gmail accounts so something like this would never happen again.

6. For the next couple of days, I replied back to around 150-200 people via email, text, etc. saying “Sorry for the inconvenience. My email was hacked. Don’t click the link and delete the email. Again, my apologies.” I also posted an update on my FaceBook page letting people know what happened.

Whew! What a day! It started out with sorrow in my heart, picked up as I played golf with friends, then went crazy when my email was hacked, and ended up with us handling the situation (THROUGH EXCELLENT TEAMWORK) about as well as we possibly could.

If you haven’t already, please take the necessary steps with your email program so something like this never happens to you. It was a lesson I had to learn…the hard way.

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