When a Hacker Sends Your Nudes to Family

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A reader recalls her mortifying experience:

My email was hacked years ago. The hacker had been accessing my account for weeks before I found out. The hacker corresponded with a couple of my former male acquaintances and forwarded them nude pictures I had sent to a man I was dating.

Neither of the former acquaintances said a word. In fact, they conversed with the hacker back and forth without my noticing it. The hacker was deleting the emails from the inbox and I rarely checked the sent folder.

One weekend morning, a friend called me to say he was getting strange messages from my email address. He said my account had been compromised that morning. Someone had sent out a mass email from my account with pictures, personal correspondences, and my password with an invitation to everyone to access my account. When I opened my email, I discovered that the person had forwarded the information to not only friends but also family, including my aunt. I was devastated.

Since then, I am leery about using email, and I’m done using it for personal business. Even though I do use two-step verification, I keep my email limited to professional messages and the occasional message to friends or family to give me a call.

I eventually learned the identity of the hacker: A male friend’s girlfriend had her friend hack my email because she mistakenly thought we were more than friends.

If you had a similar experience you’d like to share, please send us a note: hello@theatlantic.com.