27 Sep 2009
Losing your stuff

I didn’t imagine that my “Back. Up. Your. Stuff.” post, where I said “This is just a friendly reminder that you really should consider what you’re gonna do if any of those sites shut down or for some other reason become inaccessible.“, would have validation so soon.

The Rocky Mountain Bank sent confidential information on over 1300 customers to the “wrong” Google Mail address. When a follow-up email to that address didn’t get a reply either, the bank got a judge to disable the account and reveal the user’s identity.

“It’s outrageous that the bank asked for this, and it’s outrageous that the court granted it,” says John Morris, general counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology. “What right does the bank have and go suspend the email account of a completely innocent person?”

I get a lot of phishing email, purportedly from banks, all the time. I don’t read it, I just delete it. I suspect that’s what happened here. Does this mean I have to look at every piece of junk / spam email to make sure I’m not receiving mis-sent confidential material, or risk losing my email access for no apparent reason? If I do keep local backups, will LEOs come and eject me from my home while they ransack it in search of confidential stuff I wasn’t supposed to have received?

The first lesson to be learned is: don’t keep important stuff (solely) in a remote email account, because you never know when someone or something will take it away.

The second lesson is that you need to have alternate means of communication, because you never know when someone or something will take one of them away.

Although it’s not difficult to set up a new email account, it never hurts to have one (or more) ready to go. For example, just a few minutes ago I got off the phone with Netflix customer service (by the way, excellent service and attitude, particularly at 4 AM on a Sunday morning). I’ve not been receiving any Netflix notices about sent and received DVD’s for several days. After checking my own spam filters and the filters set up at my ISP, I called Netflix to see if they were getting any bounces or other errors. They weren’t; the emails were just disappearing into a black hole. I received a test “informational” message released by the c/s representative, but other test emails, triggered by making temporary changes to my account, did not get through. Because I already had a gmail account set up and in use, it took only moments to switch my Netflix account to my gmail address and verify that it was receiving all messages.

h/t: Bank Goofs, and Judge Orders Gmail Account Nuked, Slashdot

Category: Life-Society
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