Since dozens and dozens of folks have asked about my recent computer incident of being hacked, will provide an update.
But to refresh those who don’t know. About three weeks ago my computer was hacked and all my document and picture files were locked so that I could not access them. Along with this was a ransom note on my home page telling me what to do if I wanted to get access to my files.
Next came a flurry of phones calls from me to various computer types seeking help. At the end of the day I was told that my only way out was to pay the ransom, or forget the files.
Since I work from this computer, as you can imagine my document files are crammed full of spread sheets, articles I have written and info I refer to all the time. My computer “guru” said he would not deal with the guy. My response, “They aren’t your files.”
What followed was a venture into a world I did not know existed. For instance, the bad guy wanted payment in “bit coin” which I had never heard of. Apparently this is something like a virtual currency used by folks on the internet who do not have the best of intentions or trade in a world that you don’t find at your local Dollar General Store.
The person I was dealing with used the name of “David Blaine.” Interestingly enough, that is the name of a well-known magician. I figured he assumed this identity because he “magically” made my files disappear.
The value of bit coin fluctuates from day to day, just like the price of hogs at the stock yard. They were $377 each when this escapade began. And because of my total computer illiteracy, let me assure you that I had my right-around-the-corner “computer guru” handling it all.
We first tried to buy using my credit card, only to find out that the folks I use do not deal with anyone selling bit coin. Obviously they did not just fall off the turnip truck. Then we tried my bank. That worked, but only in increments of less than the value of one big coin. Obviously they didn’t fall off that truck either.
The process became tedious and drawn out. David grew impatient. But I told him that segments on the Today show about this scheme, coupled with terrorist attacks in Paris heightened security and slowed things down. And the truth is, either I gave him something or he had nothing. It wasn’t like he broke in my house and had a TV set he could take to a pawn shop.
As time wore on, I was able to get him to agree to settle for less than he first wanted.
Long story shortened a bit, he finally got his bit coin and sent us a 36 character password. I wish I could report now that all is well. But can’t. As I understand it, the password unlocked the device I had been using for a backup and apparently it malfunctioned some time ago and none of the document files I have now retrieved are current. Haven’t found anything from the last year so far. But did seem to get back my picture files.
The takeaway. Hope you never hear from David Blaine. (Though I have been swapping emails just tonight with someone in New York who has also recently met up with him. And get this, when I asked the guy in New York how he found me. DAVID BLAINE GAVE HIM MY EMAIL ADDRESS AS A REFERENCE!! So at this point in life I have the distinction of being the reference for a con man. Doubt many of my friend can say that.)
And figure out what is the very best way you can back up your computer. All the advice I get tells me to use “the cloud.”
As someone who never heard a cell phone until he was in this 50’s, this is truly a strange and baffling world we now live in.