Wrenched back a hacked email account: and lesson learnt

Email Gone
Email Gone

I always advised people to enter random text in response to lost password questions – and keep the password written somewhere safe so you never forget. This incident changed my view point. Read on…

This incident happened to a friend of mine a couple of days back. He woke up one morning to find himself unable to log on to his account. Yahoo! had temporarily locked down the account, and people on his address book had received an email showing him to be in trouble, without any money and seeking money. He was unable to contact some people, and inform them that he was fine: the email address book was also inaccessible.

I told him to be patient and wait for Yahoo to unlock the account. It was apparent that someone had brute forced his password and was seeking money. This is more difficult to do with Gmail because of their ‘captcha‘, however is possible with Yahoo. His password was a non-English word.

Around 12 hours later, the account was unlocked and we tried to reset the password. The hacker had added his one email ID as the alternate ID, but luckily Yahoo allowed us to the reset questions (we selected ‘my account is compromised’, and ‘I am unable to access any of the passwords’). Initially we felt that the hacker would have changed those as well and didn’t try to respond. However a moment later I noticed that Yahoo was showing ‘June 09’ as the last modified date of these questions: so the hacker had not changed them! With some trial and error, my friend was able to correctly respond to those questions and the account unlocked! I went back and removed the hacker’s alternate account: this was important, else the hacker could still unlock the account if this was left unchanged.

Lessons learnt? As below:

  • Use a strong password, having a mix of letters, numbers and special characters – this one was clearly brute forced which is the easiest way to hack an account other than by social engineering (which is tough if you don’t know the person whose account you are targeting). If you have a tough time coping with passwords, use password safe.
  • The reset questions: answer them randomly so that someone who knows you, and happens to be able to guess the real answers can’t hack your password. However, keep backup of those random responses in a computer file so that YOU are able to answer them if something goes wrong. For example, many people know where you went for honeymoon or your mother’s maiden name. So respond using ‘monkey typing’ and save a copy.
  • Use updated alternate email IDs / set up to use mobile SMS as backup.
  • Maintain an offline backup of your address book. Most providers allow this
  • If you want you can go a step ahead and hide your real ID, as shown here – when submitting your email ID to unscrupulous websites and blogs/boards etc.
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Third Pauri (Step 3)

Moving ahead in the series of gurbani (the word of the Guru) wallpapers, below is the third pauri (third step).

The narrative to this step states that thoughts about God form a “rainbow of colors blending in white”. This can be applied to entire Japuji Sahib as well: there are so many different explanations, none of which can be labeled correct or incorrect. Each has its own bliss to read and know.

Enjoy, below in four parts:

Third Pauri, Part 1
Third Pauri, Part 1
Third Pauri, Part 2
Third Pauri, Part 2
Third Pauri, Part 3
Third Pauri, Part 3
Third Pauri, Part 4
Third Pauri, Part 4

One single wallpaper:

Third Pauri
Third Pauri

Click on the images to enlarge.

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Grey market indicators

Image courtesy TechTree.com
Image courtesy TechTree.com

A thought came to me today, via the subconscious mind.

Imagine for example, a camera from Polaroid (this is just an example). Someone buys this from the grey market, manufactured in fact by Polaroid but without warranty at a reduced price. Another person buys this from a regular store, with bill and warranty. Does the price difference at which these two people have bought the cameras indicate anything? I think it does: the quality of the product, from the horse’s mouth.

Nonsense? Let me explain. Cost of manufacturing is decided by the total expense in manufacturing a product, divided by the total number of units manufactured. The cost of selling and after sales support is added to it, calculated similarly – finally the desired profit is added to arrive at the selling price.

My assumption here is that when purchasing something without a bill, the company only charges manufacturing price, with a marginal markup for profit. However, when purchasing in an authorised showroom, the full price, as I explained above is charged. Hence, the difference of those two prices is the cost of after sales support. Another assumption is that both of these are equally affected by the economical aspects of demand and supply. The higher this cost is, it means a higher percentage of units require servicing or fixing. Which translates to lower quality. Another assumption is that both of these prices are equally affected by the economical aspects of demand and supply, and therefore if we take the difference, it indicates as discussed.

An example:

Brand A Brand B
Price @ showroom (with warranty included) 5500 7000
Price @ grey market 3900 4100
Difference 1600 2900

To me this indicates Brand A is more ‘stable’. Would be interested in doing this as an experiment: someone could take it up as an MBA project. Please let me know if you are interested.

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