Friday, April 3, 2009

Overcoming Evil With Good

This afternoon, I lay stretched out across my bed watching a chick flick, waiting for the pain in my limbs to lessen, helped along by chamomile tea. The phone rang. It was my sister, who lives in the next state. "Are you aware of what's happening on your Facebook account right now?" she asked calmly and seriously.

Turns out, someone hacked into my account, posted racial slurs in my status, made rude comments on my friends' photos, and chatted as me, making spurious remarks about various ethnicities. Some of my friends, clearly alarmed to hear me saying such horrible things, responded with concern, trying to figure out what in the world had happened to the Becky they knew. The impostor proceeded to respond to my friends, arguing his viewpoint and telling them off, each of his comments accompanied by my happily smiling face. In short, he wreaked quite a bit of havoc.

Very providentially, my sister's husband discovered the problem and took immediate action. He is a senior programmer (that means he's one of those rare individuals who can actually speak in real code). He went to my wall and wrote that he was pretty sure my account had been hacked into.

He then proceeded to have a conversation, on my wall, with the impostor, who gave himself away by bragging about how impossible it would ever be to catch him at what he was doing, slinging around phrases like "IP address" and "proxy" and other, you know, programming type words I don't really know how to introduce into conversations.

I got off the phone with my sister and tried to log in to Facebook. No dice. I couldn't log in. I checked my email and found a suspicious message. The Facebook Team wrote and told me they had received my request to change my contact email address (a request I most certainly had not made), and they provided me with the address I had supposedly requested. They also said that if I hadn't actually made the request, I could "click here" to cancel the request. Jeff said it would be okay for me to click where they told me to, and the link really did take me to Facebook, but as soon as I got there, my screen said "cancellation request denied".

But the hacker didn't delete my email address as one of the contact addresses, so I watched, horrified, as email after email poured in from various Facebook friends leaving replies to what I can only imagine were scathing diatribes posted by the impostor.

I'm not quite sure exactly how he sorted it out, but somehow, my brother-in-law was able to boot the hacker off my account and log in as me. He deleted all the offensive threads (I never even got to read them, which is fine by me), tightened up my security, and searched my account to make sure there were no more loopholes.

Meanwhile, Jeff and I went to all of my online places and changed all my passwords as quickly as possible.

As me, my brother-in-law responded to a few of my friends, making sure they knew the hacker was gone and he was trying to fix things. And fix things he did. Finally, I was able to log in as myself. One very astute college friend of mine said, "Prove to me it's Becky: what caused your carpal-tunnel in college?" Very good question. Probably only a handful of people know the answer. After my satisfactory reply, my friend confirmed to the rest of my wall readers I was really back.

I spent about an hour sending emails to various friends my impostor had attacked while posing as me, letting them know it hadn't been me and I would never say what he'd said. I am not certain I communicated with everyone, but I surely hope so. If I said anything horrific to you on Facebook between last night and 4 pm PDT this afternoon, it wasn't me!

I'm a bit trembly tonight. Or at least I will be until my AdvilPM kicks in. But for the most part, the shock has worn off. And what comes after shock? Anger, of course. I feel so violated. And powerless. There's really no recourse. The hacker mocked my brother-in-law by saying even if he gave out his IP address, he could never be caught. And it's probably true. It's maddening to have no way to fight back.

One of the interesting things the hacker did was change my little "tell me about yourself" blurb on Facebook. I had typed, "The God of the Bible loves me and you." The hacker replaced "God" with "Dog". But do you get what that means? Even though the he obviously felt the information to be superfluous and offensive, he was still, even for a brief moment, faced with the truth that the God of the Bible loves that hacker.

I asked Jeff: "Why would someone do something like that?"

His gentle reply: "Because they can."

And my next inevitable question: "Why me?"

And after a pause, Jeff's response: "I don't know."

But I do. I think God allowed it to be me because that hacker is in desperate need of prayer. He seems pretty bitter, and he does not understand how loved he is. He does not understand that his soul is precious to God. He does not comprehend that his life could be so much richer and fuller than it is.

No way to fight back? Hardly. I have a weapon the hacker could never possibly withstand, no matter how great he is at online sabotage. I have prayer. And I'm gonna use it!

I'm asking you to join me. Together, let's pray for my hacker.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
~Matthew 5:10-12

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
~Romans 12:17-21