Jesus, Mary and Joseph – Call the Cyber Police! I’ve Been Hacked!

By Greg Fuller

November 6, 2015

If you are an observant person – and I’m sure we’re all that, eh? – you may have noticed this little missive originates from a new address, specifically www.crankcallsblog.com. Or maybe not. Perhaps you don’t really care because I usually email a link. Whatever. The salient point here is that I’ve done a bit of cyber-moving, not really of my own accord mind you. But, as in most disaster situations, there is an opportunity to kick back, reflect and rethink some things. Perhaps make a few improvements, in the spirit of, say, the Little Piggie thinking, “Hey, you know, before the next time the Big Bad Wolf strolls by, I’m thinking, um, masonry”.

Suffice it to say that I’ve been having a really bad cyber-week, following a disturbing and rather expensive cyber-month, preceded by an annoying cyber-year. Sort of the electronic equivalent of living in Oklahoma during twister season, where you look out and say “Whoa, Rufus, that looks like a pretty bad one over there.” And then his eyes kind of bug out looking up over your shoulder as he starts an unusually quick (at least for Rufus) move towards the storm cellar, and dang! if that ain’t the Helgeson’s beagle spinning up over the woodpile, ears out and looking like Snoopy helicoptering in one of them Peanuts cartoons.

It’s been like that.

Let me start from this end, with the most recent turn of Internet events, and I’ll browse my way backwards to the beginning. Probably in installments, snippets or whatever, since I know this technology stuff has kind of made people impatient and short-attention-spanned.

So last Friday I get this email – you know what those things are that we had before texting and ‘Gramming and all of that. I get this email from my ‘host provider’, FatCow (these techie things have such cute names) that says I’ve got a bunch of ‘infected files’, a list of which is in some slash-statistics folder on my slash-slash ‘host’ site, and just to be safe and protect everyone and like that, they’re cutting me off access-wise until I clean up the gawd-awful infected mess and everything is electronically hunky-dory again.

“PITA”, I think to myself. “All right then. I’ll just take a look see in there and check out what’s going on. I’ve got my backups, yes indeedee. Just get a new set of files, clean as a baby’s bottom on Saturday night, and toss ‘em up there”.

The Hell you say? When I take a look, it’s not my files that are sickly, oh no. It’s a bunch of strange looking names laid down by my blog thingy software, called WordPress. This WordPress was supposed to be the end all, be-all, just press a button and start bloggin’ away and don’t worry your poor writer’s head about the technical hoo-ha and like that. Instead of easy-peasy nice and breezy, my FatCow site is looking more like one of them heifers with the mad cow. I mean, here I’ve been electronically molested, and they’re acting like it’s my fault. I’m the victim here, dammit!

Meanwhile if I don’t press the right keys or whatever, poof goes six years of inspiring and witty banter, like someone snuck in during the black of night and poisoned the whole herd. Or at least did a serious job of metaphorical cow-tipping. All the while my hosting service’s so-called tech support is saying “Sorry, Bud, it’s on you. We just supply the software and please let us know when you have cleaned up the mess.” Elsewise, you’ll never see your pretty words again.

You hacking me??? But why? Why, oh why, oh why? They’re just innocent little words here, collections of syllables, characters and punctuation hanging out together, not doing anyone any harm. Rip off my credit card – yeah I get it. It’s the profit motive. Steal my tax refund? Take it up a notch – but that’s just business I suppose. Empty my bank account; go for the big score. I understand the ROI in that. But attack my art? Bash my bear stories? Crash my car tales? Dash my literary dalliances? What’s the percentage in that? I know, I know there was that one anti-gun thing. But that was years ago …

Oh yeah, and if I want to get the mess cleaned up, there’s this ‘partner’ of the hosting service that will do that for a mere couple of hundred bucks. One time. Or I can pay half that and subscribe for, oh, about as much as I’m paying for a whole year’s hosting. Ya sure, you betcha’. I’m jumping right on that train. Does that include updating the software for me? ‘Fraid not. No siree. Still my responsibility. Need to ‘constantly maintain my site’, as the response to my ‘support ticket’ said. Update that puppy a few times a week.  I don’t think so.

Oh me, oh my, what’s a poor writer to do? Go back to paper? At least a pile of pulp isn’t likely to get infected. I can tell you one thing. FatCow is dead meat as far as I’m concerned.

But wait, there’s more! There’s Googling and Binging and look – it’s a bunch of PC Magazine reviews! Check the charts, compare features, go for five stars. Hot damn, looky there — it’s and Editor’s Choice! And that nice little lady on the chat line, sitting right here in the U S of A no less. Forty-five minutes we chatted. Fifty-three per cent off the regular rate she says, and unlimited email accounts to boot. Breaking news!! They’ll even keep me up on the latest version of that WordPress thingy.  Just like that. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner here. Just let me look up my expiration date and CVV.

As you can see, I’m back up (and no longer riding that cow, fat mad or otherwise). Stay tuned. And, as we go back in time, I’ll tell you about how the nano-nasties took my taxes. And, apparently, my wallet with them.

To be Continued …

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