On being hacked..

Yesterday morning a post of mine appeared on BigBible, extolling the virtues of fusing technology with traditional church. In it I explored some of the ways in which digital technology could prove not just a companion, but an enhancement, to traditional moments in church life.  By the time the day was over, I appear to have been bitten by the digital hand I had fed!

At the close of evening service, I went to log off my computer before locking up and going home. I opened a slightly odd- looking message from a colleague, ignored its contents, shut the computer down and went home.  Within an hour a friend contacted me to say that he thought my Twitter account had been hacked – and he was right. A spurious direct message had been sent out to over 400 followers, and those who opened it suffered the same fate as me. Acting on advice I solved the problem, but it has given me cause to reflect…

Emotions

My overriding emotion was one of embarrassment. I felt like I had gone out wearing filthy (and possibly flea-ridden) clothes – and sat down on the virtual sofa on every single one of my online friends. Maybe this is why I spent the next hour with a digital dustpan and brush sweeping up behind me with apologetic messages. More worryingly, I also felt a tinge of panic. I hold so many of my followers in the highest esteem – I value their insight, cherish their friendship and enjoy their updates. The thought of losing them through this unsavoury episode was very worrying.

Responses

As I have said before in other places, tales of the digital space as a den of nastiness and corruption are hugely exaggerated. My annoyance at my anonymous hacker was more than outweighed by the kindness and helpful advice I received from others. Within an hour of the event happening, people were letting me know about it without accusation. Within 5 minutes of that, I had numerous helpful and succinct responses on how to fix the problem. The rest of my evening was spent reading reassuring messages from people that they did not hold it against me!

Lessons

  • Don’t open dodgy Direct Messages!
  • Change your password immediately when this kind of thing happens, and occasionally anyway.
  • Be prepared for nastiness to be swamped by goodness and panic to be hushed by co-operation.
  • This episode reinforces my belief more strongly than ever that Christians are needed in the digital space.
So has the man who shouted about digital potential on BigBible changed his mind? Very definitely not. The answer to episodes such as this is not to withdraw, surely – but to redouble our commitment to integrity and creativity online?
Advertisements