You see before you what appears to be an average iPhone...
But any second it could descend into the Twilight Zone!
Dear Citizens of Buttercupland:
This is an important message from the Buttercupland Department of Technology. Yesterday at approximately 12:30 p.m. I was contentedly sitting in the waiting room at a major Manhattan medical center, where I had accompanied a friend to outpatient surgery. Suddenly my iPhone -- very similar to the phone pictured above -- went berserk. Unbeknownst to me some bug/hack had started sending protected messages to everyone in my address book. First I got notices that came from out of office responses and then people I knew wrote to me asking if I had sent a protected message.
After I got home last night -- my friend's surgery happily went well -- I started to change passwords. I kept changing passwords and deleting and reporting anything that looked odd this morning. The crisis seemed over and I was no longer receiving email about the problem.
But, as the Grateful Dead remind us, "When life looks like easy street there is danger at the door." A short while ago I decided to check my email. I find I'm locked out due to "suspicious activity." I've sent an appeal and received a cordial response letting me know it will take time to evaluate my appeal. The customer assistance phone lines are closed until tomorrow morning. I have officially fallen into the email Twilight Zone.
Lessons learned from this incident/mess:
1) Never attempt to open a "protected" email that you are not expecting. I have received one protected email in my twenty years of email, and it was from my orthopedic surgeon. It was clearly marked and I knew the sender. The only exception may be if you are part of an undercover network, but I am making that assumption based on my extensive reading of mystery novels and spy thrillers.
2) Change your passwords regularly. I actually do this, but will be as conscientious as I was during my working years, when we had to change our password every month. It's easy to be forgetful about the need to do this.
3) Don't click on a faux link. If you're unsure whether it's a "real" email from a bank, for example, go to the website and check for messages.
4) Have several email accounts. In the future I will be forwarding anything I want to make sure to access to my second account. I hope this doesn't happen again any time soon, but I want to be prepared for email Twilight Zone.
I'm not sure how this mess occurred. I do change my passwords often. I don't click on anything I'm unfamiliar with and I report anything suspicious. I have virus protection software which runs scans on a regular schedule.
I'm optimistic that I will be permitted to access my account soon. I'm eager to return from the Twilight Zone.
Stay safe and be prudent where you click!