Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hackers and Phishers, Alive - Alive-O

It happens to us all eventually.  We get noticed by a hacker or someone phishing.  They make our life unpleasant for a while and then go on to their next target. When I worked for the government, we were on a LAN and had elaborate procedures to protect us.  Still, every once in a while some employee who hadn't bothered to read the most recent security directive clicked on a link and the whole network went down for a bit while the techs worked to repair the damage.

Yesterday morning, I turned on my handheld device and discovered failure messages for emails sent to my entire contact list.  The system refused to send them because they were of questionable origin.  In other words, it recognized they did not originate with me.

Of course my first thought was "oh no, my manuscripts!!!" But then I remembered I have elaborate back-up systems to make sure I have multiple copies of my writing in several places.  I also have protection on all my accounts, identity info, etc.  So I relaxed a bit.

I did send my friends an email warning them of bogus emails they might receive from someone pretending to be me.

After my initial rage, I calmed down and started wondering about the person who did this.  Being a movie fan, I envisioned the typical introverted malcontent, a Jabba the Hutt clone living in his mother's basement surrounded by more electronic equipment than Command Central at NASA.  I pictured him living on a steady diet of Pop-Tarts and Pizza while he guzzled Mountain Dew and Red Bull, paying the price for all the caffeine, with shaking hands and tapping feet.  Oh well, at least he would get some exercise.

He would be pale, with bad skin from improper nutrition and never going out in the daylight.

He would be inept socially, unable to maintain a conversation that did not veer off into techno-speak.

Women? Not a chance - he wouldn't leave his safe haven to meet anyone. And even if he did, he wouldn't be able to maintain a relationship.

Seriously, though, the person who surreptitiously peeps into other people's business is today's version of a voyeur, a peeping-tom, if you will.  He or she gets off on ferreting out secrets and using them.  The hacker gets off on the power rush of knowing what others don't want anyone else to know. He may or may not reveal it to anyone else.  The mere fact he has the power to find it, sustains him, feeds his abused ego. Depending on his personality, he may or may not publish what he finds.

Take the Wiki-Leaks case for example.  I am the first person to stand up and say the government frequently avoids the truth in their reports, their statistics, their forecasts.  Doesn't matter who is in the White House or the State House.  Info is always subject to the spin in favor of the ruling party or faction. They always want to maintain their funding level or get a higher allocation or make the data fit their agenda.  I have no problem with that kind of info being revealed.  I worked for the government for 35 years and always felt this way.  Funding comes out of my tax dollars, too.

But I think some things which could endanger innocent lives if revealed should not be.  I also think we have a right to privacy in our own lives.  The hackers and phishers try to take that away from us.

Of course we bear responsibility for what we post online - remember Anthony Wiener?  What kind of idiot would put those photos out there for the world to see and expect no backlash?

In closing this rambling diatribe, I say the hackers and phishers may seem like Jabba the Hutt, but we the people need to be like Jedi Master Yoda...

No one, in any aspect of our lives, can hurt us, unless we let them. 

So take precautions, prepare for any contingency, and you will survive the occasional electronic voyeur.

And to those sad folks living in their mama's basement, I say to you in the words of William Shatner, portraying himself on SNL during a skit in which he spoke to the fans at a ST Con...


Until next time...


  1. Excellent post. I spent a month in hacked hell after my contact list was phished. Of course part of that was self induced preservation. My Yahoo account had been hacked and phished so many times I was afraid my contacts were going to start shunning me. So, I opted to open a new account with another provider and moved every single internet contact over to the new address. It boggles the mind just how many contacts you really have that you just never think about until you get into such a project. Unsubscribing to things you might have actually thought you'd want as well as all those lists you got on just because you purchased something took the longest. But it was worth it --- I think. Yahoo itself likes to play games and my latest run-in with the frustration of the internet including having all my emails to groups I was a member of "bounced." That wasn't fun either. But back to the anemic antisocial hackers who get off on weaseling their way into our lives - it's because they haven't got a life of their own. I guess I'll choose to be thankful I have a life and offer up a prayer for those who don't.

  2. Thank you, Skye. I hear you and relate.