SPONSORED BY

Auto Segment
Mutual Fund Segment
My Budget
Expert Speak
In Association With
 
Business Standard

Sunanda K Datta-Ray: What the hack!

Being hacked is a frustrating experience but where is the cyberpolice to punish the guilty?

Related News

It’s not only at the lofty level of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and the Leveson inquiry, whose devastating strictures on the press were announced on Thursday, that crime is rampant in the ether. The usual email address is missing from the end of this column because humble hacks are also victims of hackers.

Even while writing this, I am probably being robbed left, right and centre by criminals who have invaded and seized my and accounts. I cannot access either. Mail sent to them doesn’t reach me. It falls into criminal hands.

A telephone call from Sydney was the first intimation of burglary, politely called hacking. My next caller, a writer with whom I worked as a reporter in Stockport in the north of England 54 years ago, sounded very annoyed. “You didn’t say a word about going to Spain,” he complained, “when we met the day before yesterday!” He was justly piqued. I had taken the train from Euston and he had met me in his car at Manchester’s Piccadilly station, driven me round the town on a nostalgic trip and taken me to the newly developed wonder of with its centre devoted to the artist L S Lowry, formidable War Museum (where we lunched), the new flats by the waterside and huge BBC offices. Then he drove me back to Piccadilly for the train to London. How could I have been so secretive during all those chatting hours?

Our friendly English landlord was vexed for another reason. He shrewdly telephoned my wife who sensed the relief under his expressions of concern when she assured him that, far from traipsing off to Spain, I had been in England all along. That meant I hadn’t done a flit without paying the rent. She invited him round, and we felt his confidence surging back as he saw that everything in the flat – furniture, carpets, pictures, bedding and all the cutlery and crockery – was in its place. If we had disappeared to Spain, we might also have cleaned out all his possessions.

He had downloaded and printed the cause of the furore. It was a message above my name that I reproduce below with its eccentricities of punctuation and syntax unchanged:

“I hope this reaches you on time..I’m sorry for this emergency and for not informing you about my urgent trip to Spain but I just have to let you know my present predicament. Everything was fine until I was robbed on my way back to the hotel, I wasn’t hurt but I lost my money, bank cards, mobile phone and my bag in the course of this attack. Immediately contacted my bank in order to block my cards and also made a report at the nearest police station. I’ve been to the embassy and they are helping me with my documentation so i can fly out but I’m urgently in need of some money to pay for my hotel bills and my flight ticket home, will definitely REFUND as soon as I get back home.

“Kindly let me know if you would be able to help me out. I am so worried.

“Waiting to hear back from you.”

He explained the plight of British landlords whom neither the police nor the courts lift a finger to help. If a tenant disappears, they merely serve notices at the abandoned tenanted address unless the landlord tracks down the absconder. He had once tried to enlist the help of London’s citizens’ consumer council but was rebuffed with the official’s opening comment, “We must warn you that as a matter of principle, our sympathies are with the tenant.”

Calls flooded in from Delhi and Singapore, remote Cornwall and several from here in London. Many were convinced I was stranded penniless in Spain. Some recognised an old trick. Others knew the language wasn’t mine. “The Nigerians have got at you!” exclaimed one, Nigerians having a bad reputation in Britain for financial jugglery. A journalist in Nicosia suggested facetiously I demand a share of the loot.

But being hacked is no laughing matter. It means your private files and correspondence are exposed to the enemy. You are at the mercy of unscrupulous cheats and swindlers. Their very anonymity makes them more dangerous and you more vulnerable.

Some of my friends received the fraudulent message from my Yahoo address, some from Hotmail. The same crook controls both. They ought to be rescued and the thieves punished. But where’s the to enforce any law?

Read more on:   
|
|
|
|
|
|
|

Read More

Devangshu Datta: Expect the unexpected

The market continued to mark time as the last settlement of 2012 passed by. There was negligible change in net index levels. Most traders are ...

Recommended for you

Most Popular Columns

Arvind Subramanian

Arvind Subramanian: Moving towards the fiscal target
Arvind Subramanian

Chief Economic Adviser explains the Budget in an exclusive article

Sunita Narain

Sunita Narain: Decoding the Budget's 'carbon tax'
Sunita Narain

The coal cess has to be used to provide the biggest climate-change game changer for India - to provide affordable and clean power to the millions who ...

Mihir S Sharma

Mihir S Sharma: Small-bang Budget
Mihir S Sharma

Behind the smiles, the deep disappointment

Advertisement

Columnists

Sreenivasan Jain

Sreenivasan Jain: The noise around the land acquisition law
Sreenivasan Jain

The debate over the land ordinance is best located in facts, not hyperbole

Ajai Shukla

Ajai Shukla: Needed - defence budgeting structures
Ajai Shukla

Imaginative budgeting requires a top-down approach, where strategic demands determine procurement priorities

Martin Feldstein

Martin Feldstein: The deflation bogeyman
Martin Feldstein

Sharp decline in energy prices is the primary reason for the recent drop in the inflation rate

Back to Top