I'm going to talk about a topic that can unfortunately affect any one of us, and that is how to recover a hacked account.
Shortly after getting home from my trip i found my account had been hacked. It's depressing to try and logon and receive a message your account has been banned, and for those of us that it happens to for the first time, it can be frustrating and a bit bewildering.
I've heard of other people being hacked, and had guildies been hacked, but in the back of my mind, i've always have the thought, i'm careful and it won't be me. With the proliferation of kiddie scripts, and "how to" guides, hacked accounts are becoming more and more common.
At first i was pretty depressed, the quickest recovery i had heard of was 2 weeks, and that person lost all of his gold and most of his gear and Blizz weren't able to recover it! I've heard of nightmare stories of people not being able to recover accounts at all! And thinking of how many hours we put into this game, you do get emotional attachments to your characters. Enough to make people just plain quit.
Now i enjoy this game a lot, and i was considering what would i do if my account was not recoverable, i enjoy the Druid class very much (much more than my rogue, hence my rogue is still in the 50's....) But would it be time to reroll?
So of course when i was at work, i was very productive, and looked up how to recover my account.
Some of the help topics on this out there on the net are unfortuantely outdated or just not correct.
So i will share with you my experience, so if unfortuantely it does ever happen to you, at least you will have some idea of what to expect.
Most accounts are compromised by the following ways.
A friend who's got your account details and has just decided to sell you out.
A Trojan on your computer that's keylogging your account details.
A Trojan on a computer you've played WoW on (Netcafe, friends house)
A hacker that has gotten into your email and been able to get your password from there
First off if you find your account is compromised, make sure it's not your email account that was compromised, otherwise once you recover your account, it will be hacked again.
Log onto the Blizzard website http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/account/ and reset your password from a computer that is not compromised! (Very important to know the answer to your secret question)
If your account has been banned in the duration it was hacked, you will need to get Blizz to unban your account, thankfully in today's day and age, Blizz are now accepting electronic submissions (in the past they only accepted faxes and snail mail)
To unban your account you will need to download a form
http://ftp.blizzard.com/pub/WoW/other/Account-Recovery.pdf, fill it out, and also scan some form of ID (drivers license being the popular choice)
The email submission must be under 3mb, and the scan must be clear enough for them to read it.
Email the submission to firstname.lastname@example.org
You will receive an email from Blizzard resetting your password.
So now you can log into your account, and see how much damage the hacker has done.
Most hacking is done by thieves who are mainly after gold so they can on sell it for real cash. So after logging on, of course i found all my characters naked, well almost naked, surprisingly, the hacker must of been in a hurry, as he left me 50g, and missed 1 bag with some blue gear in it in the bank. If your character is an enchanter (as mine is) the hacker will DE all your BOP items, as shards are still worth a bit of gold.
Luckily none of my characters were transferred across servers (at least i haven't noticed yet since i only have one main) hackers do this to sell gold across different realms.
Once i had my account back (it only took them 1 day to unban my account, and this was done over the weekend, great job Blizz!) i logged a call with a GM, admittedly the GM took a while to respond about 4-6 hours, and honestly there's not a lot you can do with a semi naked character (luckily i had some PVP gear that could neither be DE'd or sold).
Once the GM responded to my ticket, he referred my ticket to a "character specialist" and it only took Blizz less than 1 day to restore the majority of my stuff. The majority being all of my gear, i was short on a lot of consumables like pots and water, and missing gold and enchanting dust.
I was quite happy with the turnaround time, my character was once again "playable". The restore of gold took a little longer, i received an email about 2 days later saying they had finished their investigation and restored 90g.... i was :( since i had over 8k gold.
I wrote them an email politely asking them to investigate further and to investigate if i could get my enchanting dust back, as i had a lot, then a couple days after that i received another email stating they had returned a lot more gold and enchanting dust.
I was very happy with the service i received and the speed of the turnaround, approximately 1 week, i pretty much had everything back to normal, i was still missing some miscellansous consumables like pots, buff food, but that was very minor in relation to everything i got back, so i was one happy camper.
Now i understand not everryone is going to have as smooth an experience as me, and although i was frustrated i did remain calm throughout the whole affair, after all it's not Blizz's fault my account got comprosmised, and i'm sure screaming or swearing at a GM is not going to get you very far.
So moving forward, what can be done to protect your account?
Well i must admit for me, i'm still not sure how i was compromised, but i can put it down to one of 2 things. I was in a netcafe recently when i went on my holiday and played WoW, so it might of been compromised there, my home computer was being a little strange when i got back, so it might of gotten a trojan.
I've since reinstalled my entire OS, and have also installed a Virus Scanner (supposedly most of the WoW trojans are easily caught by a decent up to date Virus Scanner) and i've also installed a personal firewall, Sunbelt offer a free firewall that's easy to use.
I've also been lucky enough to receive a gift of a Blizzard authenticator off a good friend who sent me one from Europe after hearing my woes (ones purchased in the Europe store work with US servers, so i'm pretty sure the authenticator's are not region specific) and for the price of $6.50 USD i would say it's a very cheap investment to protect your character. What's a Blizzard Authenticator you ask? It's a small electronic token that you can hang off your keychain, you press a button, it flashes up a number, that you need to input when you log onto your WoW account, the downside is, if you lose your token, you will need to contact Blizz to get back into your account, the upside is, it provides a lot more protection. (similiar to VPN tokens from work, or some banks have tokens to login to your online banking account)
Blizzard Authenticator FAQ
Make sure you keep your OS up to date with the latest patches (Microsoft make it very easy to update your PC, not sure about Mac or Linux)
Don't share your password!
Only download mods from reputable sites, manually extract the zips into the addon folders and check for .exe files