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You wake up. You have that first life-giving cup of coffee. Then you take a glance at your email, just to see if anything’s on fire. Suddenly, you get this horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach. You’re not exactly sure what’s happening, but one glance at your email and you know something’s terribly wrong.

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For each of us, the “something” can be different. It could be a complaint from a customer. It could be a mean missive from a manager. Or it could be hundreds upon hundreds of bounced emails sitting in that email box.

No matter what it is, you suddenly know your day has been knocked off its axis. Deep sigh. Today is no longer what you expected. Instead, today is now a damage control day.

For my friend, it was all those emails. What they mean and the important lesson I recommend you learn from her experience is the rest of this story.

Wayback Machine

Before I tell you her story, I’ll need to tell you mine. For that, we need to jump into the Wayback Machine and look at an article I wrote for CNN on May 20, 2009. In that article (written before I was here at ZDNET), I explained how one of my websites had been attacked by tens

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