Renegade fends off a Cyber Attack

 

                          
                            Macnn.com

I have to admit, sometimes I hate this thing we embrace at times call “technology”. Over the last 9 days it has been the realms of “technology” that has boggled and warped my mind into a quagmire of lumpy chocolate pudding, and has even made me question the idea of a warm and fuzzy Kumbya secure serenity we all seem to envision and cherish within confines the Internet.

I learned firsthand recently just how quick and without provocation the constant evil outside the secure systems like AVG, Norton and McAfee  that constantly stalks and sponges on a weakness or a small byte of unused refuge space to impregnate their demon spawns to filter throughout our systems and wreck havoc without an alarm or even a sound of “Danger, Danger Will Robinson” to give us notification of our immediate and impending doom.

It can fester from within and take down an entire computer operating system within nano seconds by just a few simple keystrokes or a backslash or two. For some reason, I have always seemed to have lived in this long enduring segment of unexpected drama that has been festering around my personal space, but I have been able to fight them off until January 2nd at about 3 am. For some weird reason, I went online to check out the status of one of my daily Fantasy games on ESPN, and checked my Yahoo! mailbag before calling it a night.
 

I instantly heard the warning signal and saw the visual warning about a virus or malware that had seeped through a hole somewhere in my protective layer and was seeping uncontrolled into my operating system freezing keys and computer applications. I could easily imagine seeing the culprit slowly emersing itself as one with my laptop’s motherboard and became a frozen bystander to the horror of watching my system starting to eat itself from within.

Of course being the dumb consumer that I am, I opted quickly for the “Alt, Ctrl, Del ” keys thinking that if I shut down the system in time, this  whole episode might eventually be just a nightmare and my system would be fine in the morning. But of course being the curious soul that I am, I instantly opened the laptop back up and hit the “on” button to  beghin the processes to open my computer to the familiar Window Vista background. I was instantly feeling more secure seeing the computer loading up as usual, but I did not know of the hidden dangers lurking upon my next key punch upon the keyboard. 

I tried to open the IE and Mozilla  browser application, but they refused to load or even pop up at all. They came up instantly as “read only” files and I was getting more and more anxious and worried if I might have done more damage by instantly turning the laptop back on that night. I popped open the file system and clicked on a few of my so-called “protected” picture files and they too showed as only “read only” files.  I was sweating now in the 30 degree temperatures and felt a bit woosy on my feet.

I was beginning to totally internally freak out knowing that two  entire Rays seasons worth of photos and video files might be totally lost  and might have turned into cyber dust because I pushed back efforts to find time to copy them to DVD’s or CD every month, or even store them on a portable external hard drive. My laptop screen suddenly went black and with that, I started to become a dark shade of unmanageable hysteria sitting in my car in a vacant McDonald’s parking lot trying to repair instantly this situation. My computer had somehow magically reconfigured itself into a 10 pound piece of junk right now in my mitts. 


Plancksconstant.org

As it would not simply reboot or even show signs of life after another few hours of stressful, sleepless tossing and turning, I was extremely anxious to see the clock hit 10 am so I could maybe get some sort of answer, or make some sort of burial arrangements for my now dying laptop. For once in my dumb luck life, I was smart enough to have bought the warranty for this dang thing. Because without that extra cost at the check-out line two years ago, this laptop would have just been another electronic piece of junk in the far corner of my storage unit.

I took it back to the electronics supermarket that teased me into buying this great laptop and I was still worried that I might have lost everything I had either downloaded or saved since the Tampa Bay Rays 2008 season.  Included on the hard drive were hundreds of blogs entries (almost 700) that I was archiving to be both printed and downloaded onto an external hard drive for future use.
 

Even as I sat there nervously pacing in front of the computer tech at the shop, he was not sure if anything might have made it through the flashpoint of the infection, or if anything could be salvaged from the laptop’s harddrive/memory. I was going to have to contend in a state of heightened cyber limbo until the unit got back from the Texas repair center, and was made extra nervous after being informed of the potential extended damage or file loss during shipping associated with sending something through the mail (trained monkey) system in 2010.

I was about a inch from totall implosion from a high state of stress associated with the idea of additional delays and the airport security troubles combined with the recent cold rush of air from Canada that was delaying even small commuter flights from flying the friendly skies. I almost volunteered to personally drive the laptop to Texas myself to end the unreal thoughts of piracy or envisioning my laptop burning in the afterglow of a potential disaster enroute to the Lone Star state.  I even became instantly worried about the new fangled “puffer” scanners used at airports that might single out my box because of the faint smell of the internal byte death within the confines of the laptop.

I was freaking out more and more with my imagination overloading on utterly wild scenarios. But I tried to take my mind off all of this by remembering I had a few books (“Confessions of a She-Fan”) I had forgotten to read during the 2009 year, and decided to tackle them while waiting for news or a death summons about my unit. I went through three days of cyber withdrawl without a hint of a human calling me about the laptop. I did finally get some great news about the unit leaving the Texas center on Friday night and instantly trakced the package with my cellphone application of the UPS Tracking system that showed the package had arr
iving at 3 am ( what is it about 3 am?) into Tampa Bay.

I instantly wanted to call the electronic store, but it was 3 am, so I intintively knew that the package was not even in the sorting bin yet at the local UPS depot. But I was so anxious I even thought of calling a friend working at UPS with the package tracking number and having them pull it and pick it up at 9 am when the UPS depot accepted anxious people like me. But I did not do this because I thought of the potential red flags and possible warning signals it would send up since it had my name on the package, but it also had the electronic stores address on the label.

The poor computer tech working on my laptop situation will have to go on an entended vacation after my 30-minute intervals of calling his desk wondering if the item was “in-house” yet. I was curious if all was going to be right again in the Rays Renegade universe after we turned the laptop on for the first time after the repair. To make a long story short here, the unit did come in that Sat afternoon, but it was left in the receiving bay by an absent-minded dock worker before my computer tech walked back there and noticed it on the reciever’s desk.

So he called me first thing on Sunday morning to let me know the unit was there, and the computer company had done a FREE computer “tune-up” and gave me a top notch virus software system at no charge. I arrived to the store and was instantly jittery and pacing back and forth like an expectant parent until it was my time to run up to the counter. I even freaked out the poor tech on duty looking like a addict that was about to attack him for a “fix”.

He quickly plugged the unit into a wall outlet and turned it on. We saw all the usual start up programs hitting their marks and finally I saw my Tropicana Field desktop photo come on the small screen.  I was nervous and shaking as I clicked on the Mozilla icon and it came up “read only” again. The guy saw my face lose all its color and instantly turned the laptop away from my line of vision and hit one button and the screen flickered, then came back to the screen without the Internet browser. I did not even ask him what he did I was in a state of shock, or suffering a slight case of post partem at the moment.

He told me to click on a picture file so we could see if his slight adjustment had done anything. Instantly the file showed “read only”, but then the screen flickered again and the file retuned again as a photo file. He had me click it, and on came the photo of myself and J P Howell taken in August 2009 at the Rays Gamesworks party. I asked him what he did, and he said there was a small note in the box about the last key function that needed to be done  in house the minute we turned the system on at the store.


Neoteccomputer.com

Got to tell you it was a wild 9 days, and even a wilder time in my overly imaginary mind thinking about the possibilities that I might have lost a ton of great memories illustrating in those photos of the fun and excitement of being a Rays fan during the past two seasons. I instantly asked the guy if he could hold onto the computer for a few minutes while I went and got about 100 discs and a Lexmark printer cartridge to get these files duplicated before this danger rears it ugly head again. The tech made sure to tell me before I left with the laptop that millions of online viruses and trojans are developed every day, and if there is an update for my system, I should immediately download it to get an extra level of security for my system.

Some lessions in life are learned through hard work and watching how and what you do in this world. But online, we do not have the same visual reference points and  warning signs we see every day in our lives that help us stamp out danger and see pitfalls. I guess the one great lesson learned here is that you can not let your guard down for a moment online. One click of a keypad, or even a backstroke could send you through the same byte of cyber trouble I have had to endure over the last 9 days. But thanks to some quick repair options by some awesome computer people, you can read me again starting tomorrow. Maybe I should buy another desktop? I am not sure I could stand missing and writing for another 9 days again. But, it might be better to be safe than sorry. You know,just in case.

14 Comments

wow! thanks for opening my eyes to this. it really can happen to anybody and there really isnt anything you did to be at fault. would have been a shame to lose all of the momentos on your computer. i know how special pictures and such are

http://pittpeas.mlblogs.com

Great post! It’s a dangerous world.
http://clevelandbaseball.mlblogs.com/

great blog here renagade this can happen to anyone and its a bad world out there to lol. great blog hope ur a nfl fan have some playoff prediction blogs soon 1 tomorrow 4 sure
BlogMasterTmas805

Matt,
I have had hard drives lock up before, but this really freaked me out knowing I did nothing to stop it…………But I also could not have predicted it at all.
But it is a fact of life, like the Swine Flu……….some people get hit, some get missed by inches or are not even targeted at all.
Guess it was just my time to flip the coin………….Hopefully it doesn’t hit tails for a long, long time.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Cleveland,
I have heard ammunition whiz over my head in Kywait and South Philly, but this took more to a dark place I never want to go again.
It felt like a personal attack when it first came to light, but I know that gobbling my hard drive was not a matter of “National importance” either.
I was a bit at awe when the tech told me that people work basically night and day at Google and Yahoos and Virus programs headquarters trying to submit code to target these threats every day/minute.
Fun, Fun Fun!

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Tmas,
You might not know this, but I am an ex-NFL player, so I do watch the playoffs, but only check the scores during the season.
I got my favorites, but I will hold that until you set your predictions dow in your blog post.
Yes, it is a bad world out there, but good and evil will always be there to polarize or neutralize themselves among us.
Dang, sometimes I feel like a poet. Lmao

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Renegade’s Odyssey! I’m glad you’re back from the dark depths of Laptop Tartaros. The Dark Lord of Hades infects his malware and trojans upon the comfy and complacent. After paying Charon, better known to us as Dell Tech Support, too many times to include here in intelligent conversation, stubbornly I learned. When the MotherBoard thinks we’ve lost touch with our techno-mortality, the minions of the Blue Screen Anti-Eden strike. That’s a miserable existence to live in.
Thou shall update Anti-Virus prior to each session.
Thou shall quick scan every other session.
Thou shall fully scan once every week.

Sunday mornings work for me, while I get newspapers and run to store, I let a scan run. In spite of your tribulation, you recovered nicely with a great post. It’s hard to keep a good man down. Welcome Back, and slipping a wrap on Ether Cable’s bad boy was a stroke of genius.

http://theBrooklynTrolleyBlogger.mlblogs.com/

Brooklyn,
I am not sure if it was a stroke of genius, but you gotta pratice safe browsing nowadays.
You can’t just poke your head into a bad situation and hope something doesn’t rub off on you……or your computer.
Great Viral Testaments. I am going to have to practice them religiously from today on forward.
“techno-mortality” I like that phrasing. Going to have to remember that the next time a virus or dangerous program tries to chow down on my hard drive.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

If I needed to access a file before I got to the repair store, I would try loading a free bootable Linux live CD or USB flash drive like Ubuntu or Knoppix. Windows viruses would not affect the Linux operating system. In fact, no anti-virus, spyware, nor firewall software is needed with Linux. I don’t have a 100% success rate in my attempts, but even damaged hardware is sometimes accessible with these portable completely functional operating systems. They’re definitely handy.

Even though I mainly use Linux OS, I still installed the indispensable Firefox add-on (also for IE), NoScript, which alerts you when a site (such as China’s largest English language newspaper) is trying to take over your computer. Nowadays cyber-attacks are mostly done without using viruses.

Well, that’s my Linux plug, but I still prefer Windows’ flash video handling and now prefer Bing over Google for my search engine.

http://diamonddust.mlblogs.com/

Diamonddust,
I am going to look into that tonight.
Worst thing is I was so paranoid I would loose 2 years worth of memories, but I purchased a External Hard Drive today and the old photos will be put both on the hard drive and copied to discs.
I am not computer savvy at all, but I do enjoy the eons of possibilities that online has to offer.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

You should buy Webroot AntiVirus with Spy sweeper. It runs in my background, updates itself daily, and tells me if something is amiss. Yearly subscription, but you can buy it at Best Buy stores to start. It is the best I have seen, and it is easy to use.

Texas,
Thanks for that bit of advice.
I am actually hitting Best Buy on Friday, so I will consult with the tech there and see if that one will give me some fantastic protection.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

This kind of entry describes what happens to me way too often–and is part of the reason why I do not host a blog. I don’t like my computer that much–let alone trying to fix it when it fritzes out…

Greg,
I just picked the wrong system protection.
It is easy to take the FREE download and think you got maximum protection, but that is not always the case.
But as the guy told me, I got what I paid for………No clear protection for No money.
Paid for the year advance on this new one, and got a good rating on CNET.com, so I got that going for me (lol).
Sorry had to quote Carl the Groundskeeper from “Caddyshack” there.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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