Sunday, January 2, 2011

Locked out

Steam was just the beginning. Once I came back home from traveling, I found that both Blizzard and Facebook had blocked my accounts for "suspicious activity", caused by me having logged in from a different IP. Facebook was especially annoying, demanding I identify my "friends" from their photos to be allowed back in. Unfortunately I'm "friends" with 288 people I found via this blog, none of which I ever met in real life, and there are only a handful among them from which I know the face. On a second attempt Facebook then allowed me to identify myself via e-mail instead, otherwise I'd still be locked out. Both Facebook and Blizzard required that I change my password.

The Blizzard message that my account was blocked was displayed prominently when I tried to log into World of Warcraft. I had also received an e-mail notification, but my highly intelligent spam filter had promptly discarded that one into the spam folder, seeing how I get fake e-mails about "your WoW account has been locked" every day. Only this time it was for real. I get a lot less Facebook phishing mails, but I have already seen some of those too.

Between all those phishing e-mails and various companies immediately locking my account if I log on from a different location, I'm starting to think that online account theft must be a huge problem these days. I hadn't even realized somebody might be interested to steal my Facebook account, but given that it might contain virtual currency that can be sold, I understand now.

Of course criminal activity causes companies to react with safety measures, and those safety measures usually end up annoying regular customers more than they hinder thieves. I'm starting to wonder how I can travel in the future without getting locked out of various online accounts.

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