Here we go again

Since it has been over three weeks since my last post, I thought that I would offer a brief explanation to my regular visitors for my long silence; and no, I didn’t decide to take a break from blogging. Nor have I been on some sort of extended “Memorial Day” vacation. Instead, the reason for my most recent halt is much more mundane, and much more frustrating: somewhere along the line, my computer picked up a virus the only purpose of which seems to be to delete data files from directories! Needless-to-say, this is a big problem for someone like me because I compose almost all of my material off-line; hence, as soon as this unwelcome interloper snuck through my security firewall, it immediately burrowed into my hard drive and sent all of my document and photographic files zipping off to a kind of computer “limbo”.

In any case, to rectify this problem, I have been obliged to buy and install “data retrieval” software, and — with the help of my long-suffering wife — am now in the process of restoring my missing document directories. While these new directories, when completed, will not be identical to my old ones, they should, nonetheless, allow me to resume blogging on a more regular basis in the not too distant future. More importantly, at least from my standpoint, is that the successful retrieval of my Word© document files means that the five or six blog projects that I currently have in the works will not all be lost.

Finally, because this is now the third time, in less than a year, that I have had to deal with this type of pointlessly destructive “cyber assault”, I feel compelled to offer a few of my own thoughts on this pernicious and ever-worsening blight on the internet community. It is a problem that, too often I think, we all tend to leave to the government and to the most likely business targets to solve. Unfortunately, it is an issue that, at one point or another, will actually affect almost all of us to some degree or another. And while it is obvious that a significant component of this problem can be ascribed to genuinely criminal goals, the particular type of assault that I recently experienced was different in that it seemed to be motivated, not by profit, but by pure malice. What I find particularly troubling about all this is that I suspect that those who pursue this obnoxious type of cyber mischief probably perceive their computer handiwork as an intellectual/technical battle between themselves and their main antagonists: the various computer security companies’ software engineers.
May 10, 1933.  Brown Shirts organize book
 burning by university students.
Stated another way: I believe that for those who actually develop much of the malware that now infects virtually every corner of the internet, getting around a particular security barrier is not so much viewed as a crime, as it is a kind of “high-stakes” DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game, in which a successful breach of a Norton or McAfee firewall is analogous to advancing to a “higher” game level. And while I can understand the perverse intellectual appeal that this type of activity might hold for some individuals, I cannot excuse or even sympathize with it. This is not a game, and the attempted destruction of the intellectual property of others — even written content as inconsequential as that which appears on my blog — is neither clever, nor an act of anti-corporate cyber “insurgency”. Instead, I believe that what this behavior really mirrors, more than anything else, is the mindless Nazi-organized book burnings that took place throughout Germany shortly after Hitler came to power in 1933; and thus — in my view, at least — those who indulge in this type of activity are not clever internet “guerillas”, but are really little more than cyber “Brown Shirts”.


  • Kim Meints said...

    Oh Wow Joe
    So Sorry to read this from you.
    Yes I sort of feel it is a game for the Hackers out there to see if they can get around a new Anti-Virus barrier each tim e a new comes in to help the masses.It sucks big time and I have been hit with a bad virus a few years agao and another last fall getting into my Hotmail account and I lost buiness when half my customers weren't getting mt reminder emails but instead Ad's for male enhancement etc.

    But your hit was a real bugger(nice word instead of what I really wanted to write).Glad to hear you are going slowly forward

  • Greetings Kim:

    Thanks for your sympathetic words; I appreciate your concern.

    Yes, these sorts of problems are particularly irritating because they -- at least as far as I can see -- benefit no one. Certainly, the creators of this type of malware don't profit financially; all they do is scatter these "cyber mines" around the internet and then move on to some other form of mischief.

    What is particularly worrisome about the sort of attack that just befell me is that, had I been a student or a professional of some sort with important documents (instead of photos and blog essays) on my computer, then I would have been, at the very least, seriously inconvenienced.

    In any case, I am gradually tracking down the various blog projects that I had in the works so, barring any future problems, I should pretty much be back to normal in another few days or so.

    Thanks again for your concern and
    Best Regards, Joe

  • Sorry to hear about the vandalism perpetrated on your computer. I like your comparison of hackers to "cyber brown shirts". Very apt.

    My suggestion to you to avoid this problem in future is to get a Mac next time you buy a computer. I've never owned anything but Macs and I have never had my computer affected by a virus.

    Hope the restoration is successful. I miss your blogs.


  • Greetings EAP:

    Thank you for your sympathetic comments; I appreciate both your interest and your concern.

    In terms of my missing documents and photos, it looks like the "retrieval" software has been able to find and restore my hundreds and hundreds of files to useable directories. Unfortunately, I kept track of most of the different documents that I was actually working on through a somewhat peculiar filing system, so it is still a bit cumbersome to track all of these pending writting projects down and move them, as it were, back to the head of the queue. Still, I'm gradually getting there, one document at a time.

    Your suggestion about switching from a PC to a Mac is probably a sensible one. In point of fact, I looked at a Mac back when I was shopping for my current laptop, but was dissuaded from actually purchasing the Mac by its higher price and the smaller (and more expensive) library of business software that was available at the time. Since I don't do much with artwork, the Mac's reputation as a superior graphics platform didn't seem to be a compelling enough reason -- at least at the time -- to spend the extra money. Perhaps, next time, I'll reconsider.

    Thanks again for your kind words and
    Best Regards, Joe

  • Some thoughts.
    Avoid at all costs using your real email address for any site you use.
    Never click thru on anything from anyone, even a trusted source.
    Avoid disreputable sites -gambling porn freeware sites etc
    Never click thru on ads.

    Physical security: Apply a complex (write it down) password for network access, using a combination of letters symbols and numbers.
    If you live in a dense neighborhood with lots of wifi users I suggest you seek professional help for router based security.
    consider not using Internet Explorer - use safari or Chrome

    Do your web surfing on a different machine, something cheap like a B&N Nook with an Android operating system for $189.

    Disconnect your primary pc from the network.

    Backup backup backup

  • Greetings Thebigboard0710:

    Thank you for visiting and for your interest.

    All good suggestions. In point of fact, I never had this type of problem -- I typically only visit a few game-related and history sites -- until I began embellishing my blog posts with period plates and/or photographs. I suspect that it may be when I go searching for visually interesting historical illustrations at otherwise safe-appearing archival sites that I may be exposing myself to cyber ambush.

    Best Regards, Joe

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