Original photo dating hack
Normally, when an email contains an image, the receiver's email client has to contact the sender's email server in order to 'fetch' the image.
This is when the hackers would have been able to fingerprint the computer. This time the hackers created an email that appeared to be a request from another Telegraph journalist to connect on Linked In: I admit that Linked In is the one social network on which I do accept requests even if I do not know the person. The request was sent back to the hackers and they had fingerprinted my computer: I later discovered that even if I had pressed 'Unsubscribe' they would have been able to fingerprint my computer in the same way. The ethical hackers were now ready to launch their attack.
The first time the ethical hackers attempted to make direct contact with me was on 9 September.
I received an email from an account named 'Ricardo Almeida', requesting a meeting later in the week.
This means they adopt the role of a real hacker and use the same tools that real hackers use to try and break into a company's computer systems, to identify vulnerabilities.
The ethical hacker then tells the company what they have found, so that it can fix the vulnerabilities before a real hacker discovers and exploits them.
The most they were able to discover was the names of my family members and my fiance, as well as my school, my university and the companies I have worked for in the past.
But they then used a popular family tree history website to verify my birth details, including birth date, mother's name, father's name, and my full name.
The job of an ethical hacker is to do 'penetration testing' for companies.
They also included brief instructions for downloading the file on a Windows PC.
When I received the email alarm bells started ringing.
From objects in the background of one of the photos I had posted on Twitter they were able to discover what mobile phone I used to use, and the fact that my fiance used to smoke roll-ups (it was an old photo), as well as the fact he likes cycling.
While these details may seem inconsequential, they all helped the hackers to build up a picture of who I am, so that when it came to launching a targeted attack, they could make it as personal as possible.