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Monday, April 3, 2017

Computer HiJacked - literally

today I am taking a break from my Trek Through Yellowstone  . . . a series of posts about my Yellowstone Excursion last summer.

This blog ordinarily is a photo based blog, but not today.  In fact I am posting this from my cell phone, and is pretty much all business. 

. . . See my computer was literally hijacked and wss taken as hotage on Saturday afternoon. 
A simple click that took a microsecond to perform, has changed my life indefinitely.
I'm certain you are curious how such a tragedy came to happen. . .
So here is the sad and tragic tale

I was attempting to look at a blog that I have been following for the past few months. Having asked a question in her comment section a couple of weeks ago I was hoping she had responded.

. . . it was an older post, as in a couple of years older, which means comments are not seen as readily, so it was expected not to see an immediate response. In fact the previous commenter to mine from the same post was made in January this year, took a few weeks for her to respond, so I wasn't worried or in a hurry, just curious. . . simple as that.

As I opened up said blog page within a second or so the page font became unreadable with a font that made no sense, sort of like a bunch of wing-dings, but even more indiscernible, at this point I was greeted with a message that my computer didn't have the font necessary to view her blog

. . . interesting I thought to myself . . .  she must have been doing some redesigning and conveniently provided the link for the font I needed. . . and dutifully followed the prompt.

bad Bad BAD Horrible BAD

life altering moment

It opened her blog just fine, she hasn't responded yet and so I moved on to other things, which included opening a work sheet to prepare for our budget pow-wow later that evening that Superman and I have every month.

to my alarm it wouldn't open.

I tried a different file . . . same thing, I was told the extension was wrong and it couldn't be accessed.  I tried a few other documents in other programs all giving me the same response.  I went to my dropbox folder again giving the same result.

Long story short . . .

my computer had been overtaken with malware, ransomware, cryptowear and everything horrible. 
they. . . the evil and conspiring creeps behind this have effectively, and successfully I might add, made every file and document inaccessible. . . period.
yup, I have nothing left.

With their evil deed they removed the "restore to an earlier date" function.  Superman being, well Superman, and tech savvy, couldn't find the root, couldn't delete the program/file and quickly discovered that every computer in our home connected to the network was being infected and that my computer had inadvertently become "the host", with everything being re-routed  back to my computer.

He quickly quarantined my computer and took it of the network.  He uses Linux, and so his work station was okay. . .

tech stuff here: Unlike Windows . . . Linux and Mac's aren't vulnerable to maladies such as this. . .  apparently they use the same framework and Windows uses its own platform.

Anyway, because his workstation was still stable, he got on-line for solutions, found some anti-virus software specifically for how my  problem began that quickly turned to our nightmare. 

One quickly popped up.

we purchased it.  $29.95 plus an extra added charge we didn't ask for, totalling to $79.00, that was weird, nonetheless, desperate too control this beast, we proceeded forward.  Once the newly acquired software was installed we disconnected from the internet to prevent further intrusion and let it chug away. 

It was a slow process and in the end they said we had 421 affected files. . . however when we went to remove those files the program crashed. . . In other words, it didn't work.  2nd attempt, still no-go.  Okay, perhaps it needs online access so one more time only connected. . . no difference.
More research on the safe Linux computer. . . We discovered the software we purchased was being supplied by the very people who created the problem in the first place!  I had effectively downloaded what they call "ransomware" . . . basically when your computer is held hostage then the jerks collect more money from you with a promise to fix the problem THEY started in the first place.

We had been working on this all afternoon and it's now 11:30 pm.  the reality of what this has done to or lives became overwhelming.

I called all our kids and warned them so they wouldn't have this happen too them.  We then changed passwords and log-in Info on all financial accounts and a few extras such as Amazon and ebay.  We also filed a dispute claim with the bank not to release funds to these people.

Bed brought short sleep as I awoke at 4:00 AM and realized that while what we had done was good, we needed to do more and cancel our cards.  Superman woke shortly after me and agreed.  at 4:20 AM, we were cancelling all credit and debit cards.

As I hung up from one card provider he told me thank you for calling and wished me a good evening 

. . . I was beside myself and didn't have a response

 . . . My life had been dumped out on it's head

 . . . I'm on the phone at 4:30 AM cancelling cards . . .



Me, I wasn't impressed, flattered, or consoled.

Superman found some good software for $19.95 and we started over. 

It was chugging away and in half the time it took the previous software to "find issues and concerns" we were making progress.  Further digging through the deep files that only someone with serious computer knowledge. . . as in programming know-how would understand. . .

He was looking in that little black screen with lines and lines of code and other stuff and was digging deeper for any remaining threads of this monster.  He found several threads but also discovered that this had originated from Russian origins. 

This wasn't looking good.

Last night I realized that all my tax info along with my kids tax info was now in their possession as well.  We used Turbo tax for years and all those files were "stored" on this computer. . . These files also included direct deposit info for banks ie: direct access to all our account info and SS numbers.
This morning I began with banks and was advised to close all acts and open new ones.  Done. 

there were two banks directly affected and both WITHOUT my prompting the conversation advised that we lock down SS numbers to protect our identity and credit.  So now we get to worry about that too.  This is for all of us.  After 2 hours at the first bank our little ballerina was bored out out of her head . . . do you blame her?  I don't . . . anyway she opted to go to the car and listen to music, much more entertaining than sitting in a bank office. . . she not only drained her phone battery and now had a dead phone, but managed to do the same for the car. . . fortunately the musician is local and came to our rescue, and even had a spare charging USB cable for an iphone. . . We were in business.  She sat in the car with it running to charge the battery while I went to bank #2 to begin the process of closing and re-opening acts there too.

I have accepted the reality that I will not recover any files from my computer, and am not happy about that. . . This monster cleaned out our back-up disk through the network too. . .

I have accepted the fact that our identity may be at risk as well. 

I feel terrible that my kids have been sucked into this mess as a result of me, myself, and I . . . simply wanting to check something on-line.

While this invasion will undoubtedly change how I do things in the future such as . . .

1.  keep a backup of files independent of the main computer. . . flash drives are an inexpensive solution
2.  DO NOT execute ANY file that you haven't sought out, and be cautious at that.
3. Install Linux or buy a mac.

I will let you know in a follow-up post where the tender mercies revealed themselves and how I found joy in this journey as it unfolded as an apparent nightmare. . . which it was and in many ways still is. 

but we undoubtedly had moments of goodness evolve in the process.

thanks for stopping by today and taking the time to listen to my tale

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness! What a mess. I'm sorry you guys are going through this. :(