November 30, 2013

Locked out!

Well holy moley. Nearly another year. Again I’m logging in to post here because something’s gone wrong.

Facebook, which has become my way of communicating with friends while too busy to see anyone in person, has locked me out, asking for a government issued ID to prove I am who I say I am. I had no idea why on Thanksgiving day, when it happened. Did I annoy someone in a public feed, and they reported my account as a fake account? Did I get hacked? Did Facebook just get sick of me? Some combination of things?

Well, at least one thing is becoming more clear. Someone is actually trying to get into my accounts. Facebook locked me out, but then the Apple ID notifications started coming, until they locked down password changes. Now I’m getting notifications from Netflix.

I’m under some kind of attack for the passwords associated with my Gmail account. So I’ve changed that password and a number of other key passwords. I keep a secure password database, which makes this a little bit easier. All my passwords are different. But, as of this morning, there are 223 of them. Changing even a substantial fraction of those would be a real pain.

Either this lame account-thief will get into one or more of my accounts, or they will fail and move on. Since I’ve added 2-factor authentication to my email account, I should be able to rely on the ability to put everything back if I do notice a breach somewhere.

If you happen to be following me on other services, could you please let me know if you see unusual activity? Thanks.

Also, after 2+ days of this lockout, I miss my friends. I’ve started posting to Google+, but except for a couple of friendly folks, posting there is like screaming into the void.

Hmm. Kind of like posting to this blog after so many years of neglect.

Posted by James at November 30, 2013 8:47 AM
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Hey! The comments still work!

Posted by: James at November 30, 2013 9:06 AM

Dude, that sucks! Took what seemed like a week for FB to un-screw a similar thing that happened to Sarah last year. I now have a good reason to be checking Google Plus.

Posted by: Bull at November 30, 2013 9:21 AM

"Someone is actually trying to get into my accounts."

Absolutely frightening.

Glad you're blog is still available. You know, this blog was our FB, which is to say, the way we kept in touch with everyone BZ (Before Zuckerberg).

Posted by: Patti M. at November 30, 2013 9:24 AM

Yeah -- I kind of miss when this was our gathering place. But then I didn't know what Bob was cooking for Thanksgiving. ;)

Posted by: Maggie at November 30, 2013 9:27 AM

Oh James, that really stinks. When my FB account was hacked it took almost a month for them to let me back in. I had to go through a multi-step authentication process, including indentifying a series of my friends' profile pics and describing my own profile pic in detail. It was very frustrating, but I was never asked to upload a government ID; that would make me pause also.

I hope you come back soon!

Posted by: sarah at November 30, 2013 9:27 AM

Yes, I remember those days well. And they are recorded here for posterity whether we like it or not. I would have exploded the blog because of its public nature if it weren't for the fact that it contains a lot of useful stuff that I still reference. Links and recipes, mostly.

Posted by: James at November 30, 2013 9:28 AM

Sarah, I thought of you yesterday when I was wondering if I would ever return to Facebook. Ridiculous, isn't it?

More ridiculous is how I realized that I'd come to rely on it for communications that are rather important to me.

Bull said coming here is like visiting a family member in the Interwebs hospital. It does feel like that, doesn't it!

Posted by: James at November 30, 2013 9:30 AM

Man, that sucks! Hang in there...

Posted by: Wendy at November 30, 2013 9:56 AM

Your blog: I'm doin' it wrong. Can't see any posts after mine at 9:24.

Posted by: Patti M. at November 30, 2013 10:34 AM

Weird. Guess I had to "remember me" because now I can see everything. Well, not _everything_...

Posted by: Patti M. at November 30, 2013 10:35 AM

Unlike Facebook, you have to reload here. THE GOOD OLD DAYS.

Posted by: James at November 30, 2013 10:53 AM

Ugh, that sucks. It's amazing how much I rely on fb to keep in touch with people at this point. I guess it's a good thing they locked you out if someone is really trying to hack your accounts.

Maggie, yesif it weren't for fb how would anyone know what I'm eating drinking or cooking?

Posted by: b.o.b.(bob) at November 30, 2013 10:56 AM

Posted by: Patti M. at November 30, 2013 11:03 AM

Hah! I forgot that less than/greater than are functions so my attempt to be funny and "like" Bob's comment failed. Should've uses brackets.

Posted by: Patti M. at November 30, 2013 11:04 AM

Well, I haven't really been hacked. Someone is requesting password resets. The emails go to my gmail account. I am still not entirely sure what someone did to make Facebook ask for my driver's license or passport.

What they're protecting me from is from someone (me) pretending to be me. Which is something I clearly don't need to be protected from.

Posted by: James at November 30, 2013 2:44 PM

I should add: even if I carelessly revealed my password, nobody can log in to my Facebook account except on certain computers, unless they also have my phone. Only password and phone together get you in.

Posted by: James at November 30, 2013 2:45 PM

This is so weird, James. If you do online banking, you might want to check to see if there's been any weird activity. Same for Paypal, etc., if you use those services. I do not, but I thought I'd mention it.

Posted by: Patti M. at November 30, 2013 5:12 PM

And you might want to request your annual free credit report before the end of the year (which is coming up fast) just to be sure whoever's doing this isn't getting into your credit.

Posted by: Patti M. at November 30, 2013 5:14 PM

I do use online services like that, and I secured all those passwords recently when I was informed that my email address and password were among those stolen from Adobe's servers. Evernote and a bunch of other services searched the Adobe database for their own subscribers' emails, so I got a number of notifications that I'd better check my password security level.

It's mostly a problem for people who re-use passwords. I do not; I have a unique password for every service. And I use a password manager that is encrypted, and not having to remember the passwords means that I can use very strong passwords.

Posted by: James at November 30, 2013 5:16 PM

All your password are belong to us. (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)

Posted by: Patti M. at November 30, 2013 5:21 PM

Here's an example of a password I used to use:


According to, this would take 3 duodecillion years to crack with a desktop PC. My newer passwords are less like sentences, but similarly use upper and lower case, non alphanumeric symbols, and strings of numbers. And are long. Usually longer than this.

Posted by: James at November 30, 2013 5:23 PM

So even though you have these extra hoop PWs, some ass was able to screw up your accounts by, in essence, admitting he/she didn't know the access code and requesting a reset.

How irritating.

Posted by: Patti M. at November 30, 2013 5:25 PM

At the very least, yes. That's what's going on. There was no password breach anywhere, as far as I can tell. Nobody would guess my password, BUT it is possible that someone grabbed it while my phone was logging on somewhere between here and Chicago.

That's the other possibility: insecure wifi networks. Yet another good reason for two-factor authentication. Stole my password? Great. Have fun not getting into my account.

Where people get in trouble after that is if they reused the password. While they're laughing that the thief can't get into Facebook, they try the same password with Chase Bank, or wherever, and find out that the dope used 1776_AMERICAN_flag on Facebook AND with his financial sites.

If they're trying my old Adobe password everywhere, they're going to be very disappointed.

Posted by: James at November 30, 2013 5:33 PM


Posted by: Patti M. at November 30, 2013 5:44 PM

Sorry to hear about your troubles James. I hope it all gets sorted soon. Could it be related to that adobe story in the news recently?

Posted by: Chuck S. at December 1, 2013 3:17 PM

Duh, guess I should have read all the comments first.

Posted by: Chuck S. at December 1, 2013 3:19 PM


Yes, but there's no way for me to know, of course. It's not like a Facebook rep contacts you for a consultation. I'll be lucky if they let me in at all. But I may have lost interest by then anyhow. We'll see.

I've decided that if they don't respond within a week, I'll re-evaluate my participation in the new year. Maybe I'll be uber-productive instead.

Posted by: James at December 1, 2013 3:24 PM

Oh no! But look how many people are still here -- that must feel nice at the very least. Hope it all gets sorted out soon. Was Twitter affected?

Posted by: Karen at December 1, 2013 9:31 PM


I got back in this evening. It was all a mistake, they say. Oooooo-kay.

Twitter was not affected. As far as I can tell, there have been no other attempts on my accounts.

Posted by: James at December 1, 2013 9:33 PM

Glad it's all sorted out now, at least.

I have to admit, I actually HAVE become a lot more productive ever since I pretty much abandoned social media. Alas, I have also become a lot more socially isolated. This all-or-nothing approach to the Internet is not very convenient, but I've found it virtually impossible to find a happy medium.

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