Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A new wrinkle on an old trick

A few days ago, a big red bar at the the top of my GMail reader informed me that somebody had accessed my GMail account from China. I was quite alarmed. Apparently, others have seen the same thing happen.

I've done a little digging and, while I don't have a solution, I have some best practices you may wish to use.

  1. If you can block it, do so.
  2. Change your GMail password, but do it from a different PC than the one you normally use, such as your work PC, if your boss doesn't mind.
  3. Change your WoW / BattleNet password. Let's face it, the perps are most likely after your Professor Plums, to strip your account and sell its pieces to gold farmers working in sweatshops in Brooklyn or something. If you're like me, it's the only real asset tied to an email account. So protect it.  Also, change the password from a different computer – just in case!
  4. Get an authenticator. It's seven bucks or something. Really! And if you have an iPhone or Android or any other number of smart phones, there's an app for that, and it's free. Doooo eeeeet.
  5. Install virus and malware protection. Ad-Aware is free. MicroSoft Security Essentials is free, and is actually rated highly by many in the know. Spybot Search and Destroy is free.
  6. Turn off your computer if you're not using it. An idle IP-connected PC is the Devil's workshop.

If the problem persists, you may also wish to disable any Firefox addons that access your gmail account directly. I'm not saying something's fishy there, since when I updated them last and when the alert appeared were far apart in time, but you can never be too careful, and if doing that stops the problem, you have a starting point to troubleshoot.

If I knew for sure, I'd be certain to point fingers, but I'm not, so I'm just saying that this is a good place to look. I don't want to sully the reputation of someone undeserving of such.

It's been a few days, and so far I still have my stuff, and the notifications have stopped.


Good luck!