As if we didn’t have enough to deal with right now regarding COVID-19 and its ripple effects on all aspects of our lives, I was hit with a different kind of virus that wreaked havoc on my emails and did quite a number on me.

An email hacker entered what I thought to be my immune Mac, and creatively sent an automated email to 6,000 plus people on my contact list. The email message contained a note from someone pretending to be me – complete with my company logo- asking recipients to click the link to a document related to collaborating on a project. When I realized what was going on, my IT guy asked me to change my password to a ‘complicated’ password, which I understood as one that someone couldn’t ultimately figure out. After several hours my system was back to normal, but the damage had been done.

Caution: If you receive this from me, don’t open it!

That night I couldn’t sleep thinking about the potential negative impact the hack could have had on other people’s systems. Thankfully, the IT guy was able to generate a list of everyone who got the email. A good amount of these were emails that were no longer in existence, but others were clients and worse yet, small business owners.  After poring over the list, I sent out as many individual notes to people on the list I could, warning them not to open the link. Thankfully they were kind and appreciated my reaching out. Apparently these hacks are happening a lot more these days and these hackers are getting more and more sophisticated, so it’s easy to fall prey.

Surprisingly, the situation came with a silver lining – In a matter of minutes following that email distribution, I received texts from friends and colleagues I’d worked with before, and also some I didn’t know. After apologizing profusely, I had a chance to say hello and commiserate for a few minutes on the tough times we’ve all been going through (If anyone tells you they’ve been doing fine, I’ll bet their lying). One person called me on Labor Day, who I didn’t know at all, and we spoke for 45 minutes. Turns out she’s with a non-profit and was interested in learning about how my agency can help her company. The following week I sent her more information, so who knows.

Moral of the story: ‘Be vigilant of suspicious emails asking you to click on a link’ (More on how to recognize, avoid and report a phishing scam – https://bit.ly/2EG6ORB) or ‘No matter how bleak something appears to be, there’s usually a silver lining or a cause for optimism.’

Well, this has been more of a tale about one virus – The other virus tale can be composed in several chapters of a book that most of us prefer not to read again.

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