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Hacking, Spoofing, and Good Website Security Practices - John Watt's Blog

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Hi, I'm John Watt and I live in California, USA. My biography is perhaps best summarized by three bio poems I created for Poetry Soup contests:




If you'd like to get to know me from my writings, here are 2 or 3 of my favorites in each of the writing categories I most enjoy:

Faith poems:        


Nature poems:


Love poems:    






Writing about writing: 


For Loved Ones:     





Many thanks to all you Soup poets who write with such dazzling talent, inspiring others to do the same, and all you who leave such uplifting comments. Happy writing! ~ John

Hacking, Spoofing, and Good Website Security Practices

Blog Posted:6/15/2022 11:57:00 PM

A lot of us have been concerned recently about an account created to look like one of our members. A fraudster created an account using the member's name and was able to screenshot the member's photo to add to their account, then made rude and profane comments at that member's (and other members') poems. Tom Cunningham acted quickly and posted a blog, contacted the member, warned other members, and notified Soup admin what was happening, and thankfully the admin quickly deleted the account. However, some concerns were raised about our website security against hackers and I wanted to share some tips about what we can do.

1) First, ensure that your password is a strong one, impossible to guess. We protect our money with strong passwords; we should be equally mindful of protecting our identity and creative output. I will come back to this point, but I am saying it first because it is so extremely important. If your name is John Doe and your password is John123 or JDoe, you are just asking for trouble. Don't give out your password to anyone you don't trust. Better yet, don't give it to anyone. It is verification of your identity, and nobody else needs to know it. Once someone has your password, they also have access to your address, birthday, and email address, not to mention all your poetry and the ability to pretend they are you.

2) I want people to be clear that the recent incident was spoofing, not hacking. An individual (apparently from Jamaica) created an account at Poetry Soup, using the member's name, copied the member's photo using a screenshot and photoshop-like software, and then pretended to be that member (Tom included a screenshot in his blog as evidence). No passwords were compromised and our member did nothing wrong, he was simply an unfortunate victim of identity fraud. Even if we all maintain strong passwords, this could conceivably happen again. 

3) Hacking involves a person gaining control of your account, either by stealing or guessing your password. This is very serious, because an intruder in your account could do much worse damage than a spoofer; they could change your password so that you couldn't log in, they could delete your poems or post new ones in your name, or post reputation-damaging comments, replies, soupmails, or blogs. They could even delete your account. Admin would have a hard time helping you because you couldn't log in to complain about it, plus they would have to verify you are you and the hacker is indeed a hacker. Bottom line: your best line of defense is to create and use a password that would be impossible to guess, just like you would create and use for a bank.

4) I believe our Soup site is relatively safe, I am not writing this blog to create any sense of panic. I applaud our Admin for quickly removing the account of the spoofer this week (it was removed within 3 hours of being reported). I have not seen or heard of any successful hacking attempts where somebody's identity was compromised, and I have only this week seen or heard of an account spoofer. After all, professional hackers are far more interested in government secrets or financial gain than wreaking havoc at a poetry site. I want all our members to feel this is a safe haven for poets and friends to interact. So...

5) What can we do?

We are a community, and we look out for each other, as was proven this week (thank you Tom Cunningham!) But as I mentioned earlier, this could happen again. If it does, and you suspect someone is not behaving like themselves, document suspicious behavior by taking screenshots, and ask other members if they have noticed peculiar behavior, or maybe post a blog as Tom did. If warranted, notify the site admin (at the bottom of every page on the site there is a "Contact Us" link on the black banner allowing you to send an email to the admin). Before I sent an email to admin, I went to the site of the spoofer, and copied their account link to include in the email. I noticed the ID number of the spoofer was different from our member's ID number (which is how I knew it was a spoofer, not someone hacking into our member's account). The ID enables the admin to quickly investigate the fraudulent account. If possible, communicate with the person being spoofed to see if they are aware of the problem. Oh, and have I mentioned maintaining a strong password?

Let's all observe safe online practices and let's all keep looking out for each other.


Thank you,


Please Login to post a comment
Date: 6/19/2022 12:17:00 PM
Well spotted John. There is enough negatively To deal with generally.; We need no more.'
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Date: 6/17/2022 7:37:00 AM
Thank you, John, for the excellent information. I had no idea what to do. I wasn't aware of the comment to Tom until this morning. I did have another strange situation with comments I didn't make, as a reply on their poems. I contacted them and let them know it wasn't me. Thanks for reporting this to admin and helping me, John. I appreciate your help and friendship. Bill
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Date: 6/17/2022 6:07:00 AM
John , Thank you for all of your insight and this valuable information! I along with many others appreciate the communication. Hugs my friend , Susan :)
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Date: 6/16/2022 6:56:00 PM
Thanks John, for some one like me, who struggles with computers. The blog is a God send... Again Thanks.
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Date: 6/16/2022 3:53:00 PM
Unbelievable how someone would go through so much trouble to gain absolutely nothing except a good laugh perhaps at someone's expense. Thank you so much for the valuable blog providing us with good tips, John. Most appreciated ~ Line
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Date: 6/16/2022 2:35:00 PM
Many thanks dear friend. You have taken the time to clearly articulate what is happening, ways to address the problem and things to do to protect our accounts. A very clear eyed explanation - better than many empires - errr umpires. I know this is no laughing matter but I just couldn't resist a little long ball humor. Blessings dear friend!
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Date: 6/16/2022 2:18:00 PM
John, thank you so much for sharing all this good advice, I changed my password to something no one would ever figure out, lol... such sad people that they have to do this to get kicks. Yes, Tom acted quickly, and the problem got resolved and hopefully we can all follow his example... but, I have said it before many times, PS should not allow accounts with no poetry posted, that would solve a lot of problems, blessings ~ Constance
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Date: 6/16/2022 1:17:00 PM
Good advice. Sara
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Date: 6/16/2022 1:01:00 PM
What a thoughtful blog, John and for making the distinction between spoofing and hacking.
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Date: 6/16/2022 5:38:00 AM
Thank you , John, it is important to watch for all of what you mention.
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Date: 6/16/2022 5:18:00 AM
Thank you John, I have changed my password to a stronger one… Belle
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Date: 6/16/2022 5:15:00 AM
Good info John, thanks!
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Date: 6/16/2022 4:52:00 AM
John, thank you for taking on this very unfortunate incident that has many of us ‘spooked’. I appreciate your allaying any fears that this has imposed on us. You give sound advice, thank you again! :)Paulete
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Date: 6/16/2022 1:52:00 AM
John, thank you for enlightening everyone about how to handle this situation should we become unfortunate enough to have been spoofed or hacked. It's valuable information. Thank you, Tom for acting so quickly to bring this to our attention and to admin. who acted quickly on THIS complaint.
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Date: 6/16/2022 12:56:00 AM
Brilliant blog John, thanks for taking the time to do it. Everyone should take heed of what you have written. Have changed my password since it happened just to be on the safe side. And as you pointed out a strong password is important to keep one step ahead of those who get a kick out of causing havoc. Just a suggestion John, I know many never read the blogs so it wouldn't be a bad idea to put it on the main poem page too. Great detective work. Tom
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Goff Avatar
James Marshall Goff
Date: 6/16/2022 5:14:00 AM
Thanks Tom!
Watt Avatar
John Watt
Date: 6/16/2022 1:30:00 AM
Tom, thank you for the support and the great suggestion. Part of what makes this a great site is people working together to keep people feeling safe.

My Past Blog Posts

Connie Marcum Wong in the hospital
Date Posted: 6/29/2022 2:58:00 PM
Hacking, Spoofing, and Good Website Security Practices
Date Posted: 6/15/2022 11:57:00 PM
One Syllable or Two? Survey says...
Date Posted: 4/10/2020 2:04:00 AM

My Recent Poems

Date PostedPoemTitleFormCategories
6/28/2022 If Ever I Don't Know Rhymeage,daughter,father daugh
6/22/2022 The Makeup of Her Soul Rhymebeauty,love,
6/18/2022 A Father's Day Prayer Sonnetfamily,father,fathers day
6/13/2022 In Brief Rhymeperspective,
6/9/2022 Happy Birthday to Laura Leiser Sonnetbirthday,
6/6/2022 What Little Fish Say Lyricfish,ocean,
6/1/2022 Prayer for Ukraine Rhymepeace,prayer,war,
5/29/2022 To A June Bug Sonnetfirst love,nature,spring,
5/25/2022 Clouds are the Personality of the Sky Free verseart,nature,
5/19/2022 Distinct Ballet Coupletbutterfly,poetry,upliftin
5/13/2022 If I Could Play the Violin Rhymeencouraging,love,music,so
5/9/2022 Sequestered in My Cozy Nook Rhymebooks,
5/5/2022 Music Time Machine Monorhymemusic,time,
5/1/2022 Two-Edged Swords Sonnetfirst love,loss,lost love
4/27/2022 A Comb-edy of Hair-ers Light Versehair,humor,
4/24/2022 In Defense of Putin Free versewar,
4/16/2022 Easter Sonnet Sonnetchristian,easter,jesus,
4/14/2022 Centurion's Elegy Elegychristian,easter,god,jesu
4/10/2022 Joy in the Emptiness Free verseeaster,
4/1/2022 I Needed Wings Today Versehope,poetry,
3/22/2022 Perhaps I Should Skip Dessert Tankahumor,
3/17/2022 The Light and the Veil Sonnetfaith,god,light,
3/16/2022 Experiencing Technical Difficulties Free versetechnology,
3/16/2022 Allegory of Falling in Love Free versepoetry,sweet love,
3/9/2022 Once Love Is Found Trioletlost love,love,love hurts
3/7/2022 Cassiopeia Pleiadesmythology,
2/27/2022 The Parking Meter Thief Limerickgiggle,humorous,
2/26/2022 Between The Shoulders Rhymeheart,poetry,
2/20/2022 Uncommon Rhymei love you,inspirational,
2/16/2022 Rhyme and Pun Ishment Monokuhumor,
2/12/2022 Ironic Homophonic Tonic Light Versehumorous,language,
2/7/2022 Sing We Now Our Adoration Lyricchristian,prayer,song,tha
2/2/2022 Keola - Terza Rima Terza Rimaseasons,snow,spring,winte
2/1/2022 We Rhymecareer,life,planet,togeth
1/29/2022 Compose Coupletart,music,poetry,
1/29/2022 Eureka Tankalove,
1/21/2022 Tyburn Pleiadespoetry,
1/21/2022 Tigger Tyburn Tyburntiger,
1/19/2022 Flappable, Gruntled, and Plussed Rhymehumorous,language,
1/13/2022 Sublime Sondheim Epitaphdeath,music,
1/13/2022 Before and After Free verselanguage,writing,
1/8/2022 Electric Locution Monokuhumor,husband,marriage,wi
1/4/2022 A Whole New Word Verseword play,words,
12/31/2021 Getting Old Is Getting Old Rhymeage,old,
12/24/2021 To My Knees Lyricfaith,god,prayer,
12/21/2021 Civil Discourse Rhymeanti bullying,poetry,poet
12/19/2021 It Came Upon a Prophecy Lyricchristian,christmas,jesus
12/2/2021 Happy Birthday to Sam Kauffman Acrosticbirthday,
12/2/2021 New Bestseller Coupletbooks,humor,life,
11/24/2021 But Not Today Rhymeengagement,loneliness,lov
11/16/2021 The Encyclopedia Of You Free verselove,
11/15/2021 Everybody's Going Home Lyricloneliness,lonely,longing
11/3/2021 Royal Tea Rhymechildhood,friend,friendsh
11/1/2021 Car Trouble Rhymeage,car,
10/25/2021 In November Free versenovember,poetry,seasons,w
10/21/2021 Yes Free versefear,love,relationship,ro
10/17/2021 Dawn of Love Lyriclove,sea,summer,sunset,
10/13/2021 Rules Rhyme7th grade,boy,snow,
9/15/2021 Why I Love CD's Poem: Comfortable Love Sonnetlove,poetry,
9/12/2021 Monoku Monday - Final Edition Monokuhumor,
8/26/2021 Paper Boat Lyricchildhood,death,death of
8/26/2021 First Day Quatraini love you,love,romantic
8/5/2021 Crowd Control Rhymehumorous,
8/1/2021 Monoku Monday - Aug 2021 Monokuhumor,
8/1/2021 What Fragrance Wafts Versedeath,lost love,love,
7/29/2021 Imagination Sonnetimagination,
7/18/2021 Play On Words Quatrainword play,words,
7/15/2021 Teach Me Free versefirst love,love,school,
7/11/2021 Of Dreams and Wings Versedream,flying,
7/5/2021 Monoku Monday - July 2021 Monokuhumor,
7/1/2021 Halfway to Somewhere Else Free verselife,
6/24/2021 disoriented Versei love you,
6/7/2021 Monoku Monday - June 2021 Monokuhumor,
5/18/2021 Going On Nine Months Free versebaseball,inspiration,muse
5/13/2021 I Ink Therefore IM Senryuwriting,
5/2/2021 Monoku Monday - May 2021 Monokuhumor,love,
4/5/2021 Monoku Monday - Apr 2021 Monokugrave,humor,
3/24/2021 Scottish Hearts Are Singing Lyricpatriotic,
3/1/2021 Monoku Monday - Mar 2021 Monokuhumor,
2/22/2021 All Of Life Is A Poem Free versepoems,
2/12/2021 Poise Met Noise Free verselove,
2/1/2021 Monoku Monday - Feb 2021 Monokuhumor,
1/24/2021 Happy Birthday Eve and Jan Acrosticbirthday,
1/16/2021 Soliloquy to My Future Self Rhymecourage,hope,
1/13/2021 I Made Your Bed Monokudeath,longing,loss,
1/12/2021 John Gone Monokudeath,death of a friend,
1/9/2021 His Gifts Sonnetfaith,forgiveness,jesus,
1/8/2021 Bright Orbs Rhymecute,
1/4/2021 Monoku Monday - Jan 2021 Monokunew year,
1/3/2021 She Is The One Free verselove,
1/1/2021 Taller Haikurainforest,tree,
12/29/2020 Darkness of the Deep Quatraincreation,faith,god,
12/27/2020 In Winter Versechristmas,love,winter,
12/26/2020 Mighty Casey Couplet12th grade,high school,lo
12/24/2020 Star of Bethlehem Lyricchristian,christmas,god,j
12/22/2020 I Can't Attend Your Funeral Quatraindeath of a friend,eulogy,
12/22/2020 Heroes And Villains Free versehero,soccer,star,
12/20/2020 The Mind of the Heart Quatrainheart,
12/19/2020 Christmas 2020 Chastushkachristmas,
12/18/2020 Blue Sky Blues Senryublue,sky,

My Photos

Fav Poems

A Winter Rose - A Sonnet Sonnetrose,winter,
My Tree's Seasons Haikutree,
My Guitar Rhymedepression,hope,music,
Gifts of Sky and Sea Sonnetblessing,nature,sea,sky,
Burning Embers Sonnetlove,romance,
Find Me in My Solitude Free versesolitude,
Cinder Girl Rhyme 
MISDEMEANOR Sonnetnature,wind,
A Poet's Gift Free verseart,poetry,writing,
Free Verse On Love Free verselove,marriage,poetry,
In This Sky of Night Sonnetromance,sky,
SNOW BIRD Sonnetdecember,nature,seasons,w
The wounds of war Sonnetfear,love,mother,war,
Folly Of Autumn's Fog Free verseage,autumn,life,nature,ol
Van Gogh Lentoart,character,mental illn
Like Cleansing Rain Coupletpoets,
RECIPE Sonnetearth,fire,water,
Crimson Rose Sonnetmystery,
Conifer's Confession Free verseappreciation,love,metapho
Desert Love Sonnetpassionsweet,love,poems,s
polka dot crazy Rhymehumorous,
Psalm Rhymecreation,
To Touch the Untouched Free versedesire,romance,romantic l
Of Me Sonnetsimple,words,
Comfortable Love Sonnetlove,marriage,
Winter Blues Free verseme,new year,time,
The Digger's Children Rhymelife,war,
Which Door to Open Italian Sonnetanalogy,future,life,metap
wind Free versewind,
Making Beautiful Music Together Sonnetdesire,love,music,passion
The Mirage Rhymeangst,death,image,imagina
Sweet invite of Spring Sonnetbeauty,spring,
the ecstasy of words Rhymesimple,words,
Fake Facades Rhyme9th grade,angst,anxiety,e
Oceana Free verse10th grade,11th grade,12t
better than this Shapebeauty,magic,senses,sunsh
let your love touch me Rhymesimple,words,
Unreachable Rhymesimple,words,
She's gone Rhymechildhood,nostalgia,
What Easter Means To Me Rondeaureligionday,day,
LET ME GO Shapefreedom,
Shadows Sonnetinspirational,
The Thunderstorm Quatrainstorm,
Beauty Sleeping Rhymebeauty,bird,color,flower,
MOVING THE MORNING CLOUDS CK Rhymedevotion,happiness,mornin
I am Poetry Personificationbeauty,nature,poetry,
Oh Lordly Warbler Rhymeanimal,beauty,bird,metaph
Give Not Your Heart Dizainappreciation,character,in
A grateful heart Kyriellegod,heart,thanksgiving,
Best Friend Sonnetfriend,
Linger awhile, sweet summer Rubaiyatbeach,beauty,flower,summe
Rambunctious Haikucolor,day,morning,night,s
TIME Free versehusband,i love you,life,
Xanadu Free verseimagination,
Peeled Diary Pages Coupletmemory,pain,teenage,writi
A Hope for Love and Peace Lyrichope,
Nascent Warmth Rhymeanalogy,birth,mother,
Mysterious and Magnetic Rhymesimple,words,
One April Day Sonnetapril,
Thank You for the Music Free verselife,music,song,thank you
MERRY CHRISTMAS Shapechristmas,happiness,hope,
to fall, and kiss like poetry Free verselove,
Kept Safe Sonnetemotions,life,longing,
A Reverse Rant Light Versehumor,irony,poetry,writin
Miracles Do Happen Narrative10th grade,
How Can This Be Free versechild,life,love,
A Poet's Cry Rhymegrief,nature,poets,words,
The Scent of Poems Past Sonnetcommunity,poetry,poets,
With Faith Rhymefaith,
She Held My Heart Free verseangel,autumn,courage,lost
Cities of Sonnets Free verseappreciation,creation,jou
Angel of Love's Embrace Sonnetupliftingme,
Child of the Late Summer Garden Rhymeautumn,color,flower,garde
Second Coming of Age Free verseappreciation,change,color
Lament Rhymedestiny,sad,
Tender and Slow Shaperomance,sensual,silence,
Dutiful dawn Sonnetappreciation,creation,nat
- All In A Day - Acrosticangst,love hurts,
My Voice is an Echo in the Field Rhymehope,
A Mission Of Love Rhymeart,beauty,blessing,earth
For God so loved the world Sonnetchristian,forgiveness,
Cactus In Bloom Limerickmetaphor,
Autumn Enchantment Sonnetautumn,beauty,
The Birth Sonnet 
Message in an Acrostic Contest Acrosticromantic,
Sunset Stain Dizainbeautiful,color,flower,na
Superman Sonnethero,truth,
Afflatus Tristichanalogy,angel,love,romanc
Ribbon Free verseanalogy,cancer,health,los
Minuet At Dawn Rhymebird,love,nature,
-afflatus- Tristichappreciation,inspiration,
Unity - 2 Corinthians 13:11 Listbible,encouraging,love,pe
THRU MARITIME MILES Epicadventure,fantasy,funny,h
IN THE MIRROR Shapeage,growing up,time,
One Stone Sonnetbetrayal,
Passion of Fire Fibonaccibeautiful,
Inside This Little Room Italian Sonneton writing and words
Two Roses Sonnetflower,husband,i love you
Through Alleys of My Mind Sonnetlonging,lost love,

Fav Poets

Laura Leiser United States Flag United States Read
Eileen Manassian _Not Listed Flag _Not Listed Read
Jo Daniel India Flag India Read
Brandy Nicole United States Flag United States Read
J P Marmaro United States Flag United States Read
Andrea Dietrich United States Flag United States Read
Gregory Richard Barden United States Flag United States Read
Line Gauthier Canada Flag Canada Read
Sam Kauffman United States Flag United States Read
Connie Marcum Wong United States Flag United States Read
Gordon McConnell United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Michelle Faulkner United States Flag United States Read
Kim Rodrigues United States Flag United States Read
Ann Gilmour United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
ilene bauer United States Flag United States Read
Aditi Mishra India Flag India Read
John Watt United States Flag United States Read
Malabika Ray Choudhury Canada Flag Canada Read
Jhinuk Mukherjee India Flag India Read
Regina McIntosh United States Flag United States Read
Jenna Logan United States Flag United States Read
Becca Teagan United States Flag United States Read
Panagiota Romios United States Flag United States Read
JAN ALLISON Isle Of Man Flag Isle Of Man Read
Eve Roper United States Flag United States Read
Susan Ashley United States Flag United States Read
Susan Woodrow Fiji Flag Fiji Read
Mary Grace Dembeck United States Flag United States Read
Paulette Calasibetta United States Flag United States Read
Dennis Spilchuk Canada Flag Canada Read
Meghan Hutchings United States Flag United States Read
Valerie Staton United States Flag United States Read
Gary Radice United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Susan Lawrence United States Flag United States Read
Grace Daub Canada Flag Canada Read
Katharine L. Sparrow United States Flag United States Read