This queso recipe was part of an email breach that happened several years ago. We’ve redacted personally identifiable information and pieces of the recipe to protect the author’s identity because, as he said, this data breach didn’t end with a changed password. It has continued for years.
Divulged Queso Dip
If someone hacked into your email, what would they find? Conversations between you and your friends? Your cell phone number, included in your email signature? Photos of your friends and family? Your address included in a dinner party invitation?
A recipe for cheese dip?
Cheese dip might not feel deeply personal to you. If your queso recipe was leaked on the internet, you might not feel exposed. It’s definitely hard to imagine it ever panning out as a “never-ending nightmare.”
But that’s exactly what happened several years ago, when Jamie’s email was hacked. Thousands of his messages, including all sorts of personally identifiable information, were hacked and that data has been floating through the dark corners of the internet ever since. Among the information, his queso recipe.
1 block Velveeta Cheese
2 cans Rotel hot diced tomatoes and habañero peppers
1 roll of Hot and Spicy Jimmy Dean Sausage
Empty sausage into frying pan and cook thoroughly
Cut Velveeta into cubes place in large cooking pot with 2 cans Rotel (tomatoes and peppers) and melt
Combine sausage into melted cheese once cooked, stir and ENJOY
Chef Notes: “You can go get sharp cheddar blocks, and I’ve tried, believe me, to make organic queso from grass fed cows and it doesn’t turn out as good. It kinda sucks. People don’t like it.
“It’s only gotten progressively worse with every data breach that’s happened since,” Jamie said.
Because what goes on the internet generally stays on the internet, Jamie has suffered again and again from the implications of that breach. It turns out, it doesn’t take much stolen personal information to do harm. In the wrong hands, an email address, cell phone number, home address and full name is all someone would need to cause trouble. For Jamie, that trouble came in a range of identity thefts, from Victoria’s Secret cards opened in his name, to shadow Facebook accounts asking his friends for money, to fraud on all of his credit card accounts, to someone trying to open up a home loan in his name.
“Your information is connected to a lot of stuff and people can connect the dots,” he said. “It’s just connecting the puzzle pieces together. If hackers are smart enough they can link all of that together.”
Despite this breach being bad news, Jamie has found a few ways to protect himself online. He regularly freezes his accounts and updates passwords. He’s also changed the way he approaches life online in general.
“I try to be exactly who I am online now, I learned to be careful about what I say,” he said. “A man who can control his mind and his tongue can accomplish a lot of things rather than lashing out in anger. You make a troll remark on the internet and it lives there and all of your stuff will get caught up in a data breach and it will come back and bite you in the arse. I really try to be careful and be compassionate.”
Jamie’s case is an extreme one, but it’s important to recognize that a small breach could turn into something much bigger if you ignore it. Here are a few steps you can take to help keep that from happening.