In a bizarre twist of fate, my Twitter account (@cherryAKAtism) was hacked the other day, while I was presenting (at the ANZTB Annual Testing Conference in Canberra) on the benefits to Testers of engaging with various forms of social media – in order to improve their (Testing) knowledge/skills and further their careers. I was presenting a personal account of a social media “usability” test/experiment that I had been conducting for just over 9 months. I was also Tweeting live updates (to my very small (but dedicated) army of followers) of some of the highlights from the various speaker presentations – a first for me and another aspect of my social media usability test. The only hiccup I was having was a wifi black-hole in the Ballroom where the Conference was taking place.

NOTE: I really do despair when (so-called) 4/5 star hotels fail to provide, what is today, an absolute must – fast and reliable (free) wifi access.

Fortunately, some young bucks sitting at my table fixed my wifi issues during the morning tea break and I was in full Twitter-flow for the rest of the day. As I tweeted I began getting new (Twitter) Followers and by the time I got up to give my brief missive around 4:30 in the afternoon I had 15 new followers – a new daily record for little old me!! During my talk another six came onboard. I was even giving the audience a running commentary on the Twitter traffic as it arrived on the iPad I was using for my presentation notes.

What transpired a few hours (after my bright and breezy 10-minute insight into the impacts of Social Media utilisation on Software Testing) was more than a little disturbing. As is my wont, when I am staying away from home, I rang Lin for a brief chat before dinner and told her how the presentation went (fantastically, of course). She told me about her day and then added that she had received an email a few hours earlier from an “unknown” source. I asked her if she could tell me about the sender. She checked and said “UTS_GLOBAL“. What was instantly worrying for me was that (earlier in the day) I had noticed the same UTS_GLOBAL had joined my list of Twitter Followers. As I said before, I was having my best day ever in terms of new Twitter Followers and therefore didn’t really take too much notice when they appeared on my screen – they just looked like any other tech company based in Pune, India.

On a normal day, if I attract new Twitter Followers, I check them out and if they look “legit”, I Follow them back (out of courtesy). However, this was no normal day and so (flushed with an adoring throng of new followers) I was returning the Follow favour without my usual “security check”. Nuff said – not my best decision of the year!! The UTS_GLOBAL (bad) boys snuck under my radar and infiltrated my digital fortress!! My first reaction was to Block them from my Twitter account and then highlight them to Twitter as Spammers.

My next action was to contemplate how they had linked my Twitter account to Lin’s EMAIL account. My contemplation was, however, interrupted by a dinner appointment with Geoff – my Kiwi mate who has been kind enough to give me the opportunity to be the first Editor of OZTester magazine. Therefore, my thoughts did not return to my would-be hackers until the next morning. In truth, I didn’t complete my analysis (of the digital intrusion) until this morning when I had time to Google said UTS_GLOBAL “b@$+^s” and discover that my initial thoughts were (unfortunately) correct – these folks are Spammers. Based upon my Google search they offer special deals to unsuspecting innocents via embedded links to their websites. They don’t appear to have left any Trojans on my iPhone or iPad and neither Lin nor I opened any of their communications on our computers. I think (for now anyway) that we are safe and secure still, but we will remain vigilant for the foreseeable future….

I really detest having to spend my time with these types of issues, but I do take it all very seriously – seriously enough this time to dedicate an entire Blog post to the issue, in the hope that everyone who reads this will pass on the message to others who may not be so wary of the (unwanted) threats that lurk in social media and other cyberspace cracks and crevices. We must continue to expose these people for what they are – criminals.

UTS_GLOBAL – you have been exposed and I will do my best to inform everyone in the blogosphere and beyond of your wrong-doing.

If anyone reading this has had a similar experience (with these or similar criminals) please comment below so that we may expose them further.

Stay safe and be careful out there.

Dateline: Saturday, June 8, 2013


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