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When a phishing attack caused a heartbreak

I was a victim of coding, which run seamlessly sans human support, and selects targets randomly.


Purva Grover

Published: Wed 27 Jan 2021, 12:12 AM

There’s the heartbreak, which studies show lead to the brain registering emotional pain in the same way as physical pain. It causes our hormone levels to drop, which are then replaced with the stress hormone cortisol. This one, I am familiar with, having suffered at various stages of life: from the loss of favourite hair clips as a child to being disallowed to DIY a new pair of denim into a pair of shorts as a teenager. Of course, adulthood further gave way to heartbreaks of another kind which involved egos, perspectives, and more. In short, I have been familiar with the pain of a heartbreak, the consequences thereafter, and the balm required to heal from it. However, it was only recently that I learnt that the trajectory varies when it comes to a heartbreak caused by technology.

Let’s rewind to a late-night two Fridays ago when I learnt that my WhatsApp was compromised. For the lack of a better word and my limited tech skills, we’ll call this a case of hacking or phishing. Via messages from familiar and unfamiliar (who were up at that odd hour) accounts I discovered that my account was sending out WhatsApp stories, which seemed like something I’d not do. Hence, the realisation. Within the next few seconds, for everything in the tech world in real-time, I was out of groups; and I was compelled to delete my account until I knew better. Little did I know, that by next sunrise, I would have unintentionally offended acquaintances, and injured the hearts of closed ones. What followed next (when I had reclaimed my account) were messages by loved ones to acquaintances ‘accusing’ me of leaving WhatsApp groups, which had been formed to bond better. After apologising to all, and repeating the tragic story, good terms had been restored, at least that’s what I thought so.

Come next weekend, I learnt that a personal project that I run on a portal had encountered a bug. Let’s call this heartbreak a failure caused by widgets. Within seconds, I lost my work done over the last five years, and I spent the entire night (and am still at it) trying to recover what was left of it. In the midst of this, a few other related paraphernalia had been compromised too; however once again I’d caused injury to a few (as now my Instagram showed I’d unfollowed some!).

Well, I did have quite a turbulent week fed by technology. I don’t want to get into big words like cybercrime, simply for I don’t want to develop a notion that I’m that important in the eyes of a hacker. I was a victim of coding, which run seamlessly sans human support, and selects targets randomly. No, I am not special. In the midst of all this, however, what I did learn was: One, my trauma at the loss of whatever existed on the messenger and the portal was not brought up, for losses are personal after all. Two, our private and professional lives in the digital world are always under threat, and we’re equally vulnerable. Three, the heartbreak caused by tech glitches take the longest to heal.


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