W-T-F!? Got HACKED! Wha’ta-do-NOW?!!?
Intro…a little update
It’s been too many months since I could actually blog, and I still have more to do in updating all the photos with acknowledgements. You’ll know when I’ve reworked the page, because I add a butterfly heading into my logo at the bottom of the page when I get the page completed. Lately I’ve had some computer problems, so each time I add a credit or update the copy, I have to publish immediately. I learned the hard way that an entire day’s work can disappear in an instant…just ask me, yesterday I lost an entire page and had to re-research all my credits and try to remember all the copy changes, yet you’ll never know ’bout the copy, less’en ya been here before.
Now back to the story…
I was overcome by fear, having made a grievous, stupid, amateurish, mistake and let an impostor intrude into my computer! I thought it was a real Microsoft Security Essentials technician I was speaking with, after my screen changed as soon as I hit the search button, and a security essentials page jumped up, saying I’d been hacked.
During the first few minutes of my call, they loaded 11 changes into my H-Key root files! To disconnect him, I restarted my computer and put it into Safe Mode with Networking, then didn’t load anything. Once I felt the suspicion enter my gut, I immediately did a search for Microsoft Security Essentials and called them directly by phone.I’ve learned over the years, that when my stomach starts to flutter and just feel wrong, to “pay attention” – it’s saved me countless times!
Once I discovered they were charging the wrong amount (thank god for small favors!), I called the bank and shut down the card. That first realization I was making a mistake prevented them from accessing any funds off the card I had given those jerkwads to pay for the “fix” which was only needed because they screwed up my whole system on purpose. Then they load several programs into your computer and “Fix” it for you, meanwhile putting your card into their “kitty” for use at a later date. If I’d have been less tired and numb with bereavement, I’d not have become such an easy “mark,” yet that is exactly who they are looking for. They want a gullible “Opey” type honest person, preferably an older person. I fit that to a “T”. Doh!
So, I surmised I needed some more computer “how-to” lessons. for some unknown reason. Now, to remove the intrusion took many, many hours of steps, and it took the better part of three weeks before it was all said and done, but I will provide a brief summary for your “just in case” file in case you get caught in a low moment.Don’t think for one minute they won’t get you…I’ve been trained as a CAD Technician, built several websites, created partitions inside my Windows XP Operating Systems, and done a little “tweak hacking” between the different programs inside my old desktop, to make them work how I want. So I would not consider myself an inexperienced individual – my family thinks I am a geek, relying on me for better than ten years to fix problems with their computers.
Anyway, I do not consider myself a geek. I go to Microsoft Technician site and read, then experiment. 99% of the time their instructions are good enough to figure out whatever it is I am trying to do, and so I give it a go. That’s for the off chance I won’t have to do a restore to get the computer back where ot was before I had started, and I’ve done that plenty a time or three too.
However, after a hack, you can’t just do a system restore. After a lot of research on my iPhone, I found several ways to save all my most important files. So, first I made a copy of all my library files and saved them to an external hard drive (a cheap one so I wouldn’t cry if it was infected and rendered unusable. Then, using a friend’s computer, I downloaded TOR Browser to a thumbdrive.
The Tor Project is a non-profit corporation organized to research and develop the Tor anonymity software and network. The Tor network is a group of volunteer-operated servers that allows people to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. Tor’s users employ this network by connecting through a series of virtual tunnels rather than making a direct connection, thus allowing both organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy. The variety of people who use Tor is actually part of what makes it so secure. Tor hides you among the other users on the network, so the more populous and diverse the user base for Tor is, the more your anonymity will be protected. It works great, opening a browser directly from your thumbdrive. Handy for students and such people who want their privacy. The US Navy uses it, so do journalists for whistleblowers and dissidents, to stay private. I recommend using Tails too.
Tails is a live operating system, that you can start on almost any computer from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card. It aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity, and helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship; all connections to the Internet are forced to go through the Tor network; leaves no trace on the computer you are using unless you ask it explicitly; and it uses state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails and instant messaging. Okay, enough of the commercial for free internet like it used to be.
‘Puter begins to flutter again
I ordered the “back to factory” reinstallation CDs for my laptop and while waiting on the Bleeping Computer fixes, read more on the best way to clear my system so there was no way to trace anything in my ‘puter ever again. Then I found what I was looking for: DBAN [Darik’s Boot & Nuke]. DBAN encrypts everything on your computer, then scrambles what is left so ALL information on the hard drive is completely destroyed. I ran it three times as recommended. Then I loaded the reinstallation CDs to factory “out-of-the-box” standards.
Once complete, I inserted my TOR Package loaded thumbdrive, opened TOR Browser, and downloaded AVG Internet Security (Paid Version) from Cnet downloads, and ran their update/full scan. After that was done, I downloaded Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Paid Version) from cnet and ran their scan too. Still feeling insecure, I added Dragon and Chromium Secure (supposedly the most secure, free, open-sourceware browser available) for a secondary browser (runs much like Mozilla Firefox and was created by ex-Firefox technicians) to TOR. I changed between Dragon and Chromium as my primary browser, ran all Microsoft program updates, then loaded all my Program CDs, plus all the updates for them too.
There was another problem discovered – oh no – Malwarebytes settings showed auto-protect was not on, and despite numerous tries, I could not set auto-protect on. *SIGH* I had a “hang down your head Tom Dooley” cry for a bit, then wrote Malwarebytes for technical help, which began a three-week long series of instruction by email to correct all the errors in my computer. After the technician did all he could, I downloaded Firefox, then Chrome…yet found each browser displayed websites differently! (Watch the Kingston Trio: https://youtu.be/VhXuO4Gz3Wo?list=RDVhXuO4Gz3Wo) I don’t give a damn…I was friggin’ upset now! Inside it welled up, then almost audibly,
I admit I yelled the “f” word
through my clenched teeth. Inside it was simmering and suddenly I was seething. My fear had been replaced by anger! I searched for a solution until my eyes blurred, but it was beyond me. Then I remembered Bleeping Computer and posted my problem. One of their technicians had fixed a prob with the old XP ‘puter, and it worked great after! Three long days passed, but the tech worked with me and fixed the browser errors too.
Getting caught by such an amateurish mistake happened at a very low time – I was exhausted from very poor sleep and placing way too much pressure on myself to get the website and the blog finished to sell my parent’s Victorian house. Yet seeing different views in the website was a killer aspect, which brought major depression until it was fixed. Especially on a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) website builder. Thank god that these technicians helped me restore the website/ blog so I could finally start working on them again. The process was slow, since those techs aren’t able to focus on you completely, it being a free service, yet I commend them for sticking with the issues until they are fixed. Therefore, I highly recommend Bleeping Computer and Malwarebytes for anyone with computer issues.
Back onto the subject of website and blog…I saw the need to increase security for both too, paying for the upgrade to https:// from http:/ Might not seem like much, but it provides a little insurance to protect anyone who views the website or blog.
What I did not realize, is that the website was considered a “subdomain” with the “new” portion in the address: https://new.mac3impact.com. That was added by a GoDaddy representative, since I do plan to use the website after the house sells for my own personal website to promote my art & crafts. SHe didn’t inform me about the subdomain part…at least so I understood. So it created a lot of problems along te way…but that’s another blog. More of a learning experience than expected…but that’s another story in itself that I think I will call, “the Ghost in the Machine” at a later date, because it goes way far beyond what I’ve written here.
Limits are a product of the mind…
Back to initial priorities of date…and reason for both website and blog — to sell the house. Neither of us three kids have the money to buy the others out, plus we are all disabled in one way or another at our young ages (the youngest of us will turn 56 on March 8th), so fixing the house isn’t really practical for any of us.
Although I do have the knowledge to do the repairs, I simply am no longer able to do so without major rest periods of a week or more following a full day of work. Just simple stuff, like keeping up the yard, tears me up for the next three or more days.
However, I have been exercising my body much harder this year, having started slowly, and am finally making gains on my endurance, etc. Oh well, we are each given our duties, so who is complaining? Not me. Oh, it was an extremely difficult path at first, but it changed in a very short time. I can only thank my higher powers for the fantasy pathway which was provided to me, and the magic which began directly afterwards and has led all the way into today, during those times I allow myself to open up to it.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to stay open spiritually all the time, despite years of attempting to do just that very thing. Biggest issue is that for many, many years, I used all the angst of my life as an energy catalyst…driven by anger, I energized myself at work, I found the energy and strength needed to combat extreme fatigue, beat muscle pains, or even injury, so I could continue to finish the day. Not the best deal to give yourself in life. TO give you an idea of my stubbornness and determination, I worked for a week with my broken back thinking it was simply some badly torn muscles.
Ya don’t get paid when you aren’t working in the International Laborer’s Union. Had I known I was plaguing myself and that attracting more of the same abuse to myself, I’d never have taken that path of using angst for energy.
I know drug use had something to do with it, because after I began to experiment in sophomore year of high school, I saw much more of the negative in life. It could have been the interruptions to routine that year brought and all the extra-curricular stuff I did. I was going to night courses one day a week with my parents – Anatomy & Physiology – sponsored by Shasta College, and with the husband of Mom’s boss as the teacher.
Aside for the night class, once a week, I was taking a full day of courses at high school and working 3-4 days a week at the local hospital. Plus I had a little quickie job for my Dad, sweeping the sidewalk of the newspaper each morning, plus tailing off the press during it’s Saturday run of 5000 or so. I was a busy guy with the freedom to start adult judgments…my life was sheltered in a small town during that era too, yet we had our share of danger. Murderers, weenie wavers, and the like were there, yet during those times, adults still watched kids and corrected them if need be. It kept us a hell-ov-a-lot more safe than nowadays, when people turn their back on others and don’t want to get involved.
Limited does not = disabled
Where I remember things changing for me totally though, was about the time my Mother became injured from an accident with my Dad — Mom was thrown out of the truck — an injury that began ten long years of a painful life for her. It began a sudden shift of burdens within the family, as would be expected; not all ones that our youth allowed us to readily accept.
Dad was injured in 1962 with a broken back and after healing, suffered nerve damage he was unable to heal from for the rest of his life. I was young when this happened, only 7 yrs. old, so we grew up with their disabilities on a daily basis as apart of life. Dad was just Dad…he managed to will himself to do things other Dads seldom did, so we never thought of him as disabled, just limited in some ways.
Mom was no different in that aspect, once she accepted her newly forced on limitations, carrying what load she could of life. However, for me personally, some resentments came during her adjustment period, as I was immediately denied the freedoms I had come to know the previous year.
Once I entered into high school, the tether to home was pretty much lifted entirely and I had the ability of an adult, to take responsibility for myself and my own actions. If I woke at night and wanted to take a walk at 2am, I just did it. My time for being home from school was no longer in question, just as long as my reason for arriving late was believable, and because I was a good kid, there never came a reason for doubt.
My G.P.A. of 3.0+, personal freedom and no longer a fat, pimpled and round freckly kid; nope I was muscular, tanned, about four (plus) inches taller and thirty pounds lighter than the past year of 1969 eight grade ho-hums and put-downs in life — the world was my oyster and I was my own, newly released, responsible high school — man — which my younger sisters hated with a fury of passion!
I grew cocky after winning trophy for “the most improved swimmer.” At home and around relatives I was a smart ass, yet was still shy in public, and that included school. Relatives kept me in check, so my swelled head still fit through doorways, yet the shyness never left. That fat kid inside, receiving a lack of attention from all the girls during my eighth grade year, just as I finally came riveted to glimpses of girl’s legs and breasts, or even attempting to flirt with a girl (who played along then teased me in front of other kids), those days were GONE.
Yes, life changed into a dream! My new, fit, chiseled, muscular body (coach had me lift weights to improve my swim times), and beach boy blond (actually sorta green from chlorine stain), deeply-tanned, look, from being outside in a swimming suit for the entire summer, made the move into high school a magical culture shock for me.
Suddenly, I was noticed by girls (some which I’d known since 2nd grade), and they approached me to flirt! Girls whispered and giggled as I walked by still…but instead of glaring, pointing, or continuing to laugh, they winked, seductively exposed a shoulder, or licked their lips in slow motion. I had only seen that in movies.
Puberty hit me hard…literally. I was carrying my books in front of my body all the time. Then, during spirit week, I was fought over by two girls, open-mouthed-tongue-deep kissed by a senior (Highlight – I almost passed out from the sensations rushing through my body everywhere) and elected Mr. Irresistible! *Sigh* What a year! Sure, it had it’s ups and downs, but I was floating so high above the ground with all the attention, the low periods were very short and my confidence was high! Freshman year was the bomb! Best ever year of school!!!
Then sophomore year started. It was not the same. It started a little slower and more relaxed. Girls didn’t seem as excited as the year before, and I grew very quiet. Suddenly the girls seemed aloof, a dimension away. Yet I know now it was me that was different.
I remember clearly the day of substantial change…making me different inside and flourishing those forgotten feelings of dismal depressions from earlier years in fatness and rejection. It was inside me that it happened, not outside. My attitude and personality alienated me from my classmates; I just did not see it then.
This hot nurse liked to tease me…
I was working at the hospital as a dishwasher and had grown in responsibility to deliver the patient food trays to the floors above. It was a great break and allowed for new friendships to start with the nurses. I knew one on each floor very well; one was an Aunt and the other was a mother of kids I went to school with since 2nd grade.
So it was a safe experience and we kindled our relationships with small exchanges before I went back downstairs to work — plus they each introduced me to the other nurses on each floor. I liked the attention and it gave the nurses a break, allowing them to flirt and joke and occasionally, fawn over me, knowing I was extremely shy and would give them a reaction — even if just the glowing “Rudolph” ears, face and neck of deep embarrassment. It was about fun and bringing me out of my shy shell, never meant in malice nor without caring that I wasn’t really upset. More about that in another post…
It was a challenge, and I varied my path to the old wing sometimes, which took a little longer away from dishwashing, also providing satisfaction to curious things — like peeking into the emergency room as I walked by it. It was less about morbid curiosity than genuine interest — becoming a doctor was definitely a future possibility.
I really wanted to be James Bond the most, but figured a doctor was less likely to be killed at work and still would have the tension and stress of making instant decisions of responsibility! Plus they got to see the hot girls too; even if it was more seldom than often compared to Bond. Plus it helped people and I knew I’d be good at my job as a matter of pride, challenging myself to always be better than I was before — kind of a hold-over from competing with myself while on swim team for two years.
What? Moms on the ER table?!!?
So I am walking by the E.R. and did my usual rubberneck view as I walked by, yet something seemed different, and familiar, though I was unsure what; so I stopped the cart to sneak a closer look. That particular day, my Aunt Rose was working the E.R., and happened to see me peek in the door. I noticed her first and it was the look of horror on her face which caught me off guard. She strode over quickly, deliberately blocking my view of the person on the table, then literally shoved me outside and closed the door, gripping both my arms strongly enough to bruise them slightly. I was so shocked at Aunt Rose’s reaction, I wasn’t able to react when I recognized Mom on the table before the door shut all the way.
“She’s going to be alright, as far as I can tell from my initial examination, so don’t…” Aunt Rose said in a sharply hushed voice. “Your parents had an accident. Your father is fine, but your mom was thrown from the vehicle. We don’t know the full extent of her injuries yet, but it looks like she only has some deep bruises and a few scrapes.”
I felt the color wash out of my face. My heart was beating out of my chest and somehow in my brain, increasing the size of my temples with each beat. Little black feathers lined the edges of my eyes as I looked into Aunt Roses face, and I felt my mouth move but no sound would come out. “Uhhh…”
Suddenly I was being shaken violently, her grip like steel on my arms. “MIKE! MIKE! Come back!!!” My focus came back and I winced a little, my hands gesturing her to free my arms. She reduced the hold to a firm grip. “You okay?” she asked. “Are you with me?”
“Uh, ya. What? A wreck? They are okay?” The words suddenly blasted out of my mouth in an eruption of questions. “Breathe, son, breathe,” she coaxed, watching my face more intently than even a girlfriend before we kissed. It was like Aunt Rose was burning her eyes deep into my brain, and the overtly concerned look she wore was so deeply honest.
“THat’s MY Mom??? Oh my God!” I exclaimed. “Wha…who…where…is Dad here?” She relaxed her grip on my arms completely, yet did not let go.
Things centered and time slowed as I noticed each nuance of my surroundings, my eyes darting wildly. Her hands, deeply warm, were soft. The freckles of her face suddenly came into view. I’d never noticed them before, or how deeply blue her eyes were…like I could see into her soul. The sounds of the hospital were clearer; people talking in the front entrance, hushed conversations of the waiting room…then, my Mother’s cough from behind the door snapped me back into the moment. I’d heard that smoker’s cough all through my upbringing, so it was a very recognized sound.
Aunt Rose let go of me, saying, “Let me look at you,” he eyes searching mine, softer now; “How you doing Mike?” “Okay I guess,” was my reply. “You had me worried for a second there. You have duties to take care of and I have to tend to your mother now.” She pushed me gently toward the food tray cart as she slowly turned me around. “Get going, those people will be hungry!” She snapped as I started to walk away.
so the story continues…