Renegade fends off a Cyber Attack
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.
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.
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.