There have been a lot of big hacks lately. Mostly these have been called ransomware attacks. They’ve hit an oil company, hospitals, electric companies. They also, rather casually, will attack anyone else they can, even if it’s for just a little bit of money. They don’t care. It’s all cash to them.
Someone asked me how a hack can happen. There is plenty of information about this in the news, online, and on all kinds of forums. Just be careful online because what looks like information to protect you might actually be trying to hack you. These people are merciless.
Multiple attempts by our and other governments to locate these guys and take them down are always underway. The problem is, there are so many of them. Many are funded by the Russians and for all know, other hostile governments. Or, for that matter, just poor governments who need an industry that doesn’t pollute the air and employs people. There are a lot of such countries which means a lot of people work in the hacking biz. It’s not only illegal. It is also very profitable and the more people they hire, the more money they make. If some of it is yours? C’est la vie.
They’ve hacked (that I know of) Equifax, Bank of America, Adobe, Lands End, Amazon, Facebook, UMass Hospital (really!) — and many more, some of them multiple times. It seems that no matter what protections are put in place, hackers find a way to get past them. I know about these particular companies because all of them got in touch with me to warn me to change my password.
Forget about the dozens of television series that deal with this issue. If you read a newspaper, watch the news, or read anything online, the information is not secret. The busting of these hacker rings has been major news for at least 10 years and probably longer. If you’ve missed it, catch up.
Hackers thrive on people who don’t understand what’s going on. That’s why they like picking on the elderly who are assumed to not know much about computers. But I know a lot about computers and they got me anyway. In the end, if you wind up on their radar, they will get you.
For me, it all happened in an afternoon. Anyone whose identity has been stolen can understand how quickly your financial life can fall apart. Fortunately, that didn’t happen to me. I didn’t lose any money, though I had to spend $90 on a new router. I also spent many long hours rebuilding my computer,. Since I did it myself, it didn’t cost me any money. Just time and effort.
Should credit card companies be more on the alert? Absolutely. They are pretty sharp now and getting more so. It’s never enough.
Anyone can call Experion, Equifax, or TransUnion and ask that they put your credit on alert. You can do this automatically on the phone and you only have to call one company who will alert the other two. If one of you has been hacked or think you might be in danger, you don’t have to wait until they have hacked your accounts before you deal with it. However, once you have put an alert in place, it’s essentially impossible to remove it which can be very inconvenient if you are dealing with, for example, the IRS or Social Security — or trying to get a credit card.
After you’ve set up an alert, all credit companies must contact you directly before granting credit in your name or changing your address, telephone number, email address, or password.
Facebook is a major source for hackers. I can’t count the number of people I personally know who’ve been hacked on or through Facebook. They have had their Facebook accounts stolen and through your contact list, your hacking pals can also take down any number of your friends. They won’t be happy about it, either, but as they say, shit happens.
No one is safe.
If you think you are safe because nothing like this has happened to you, you are naïve. It can and does happen to everyone. Anyone. Young. Old. Retired. Poor. Rich. It hurts a lot more if you are poor, but it won’t stop the hackers. If you’ve got any money, they’ll take it and leave you with nothing. And laugh all the way to the bank.
These are not people who have a conscience or a sense of right and wrong. They don’t care what happens to you. They do not care if they kill you while stealing everything you have to your name. You can’t shame or embarrass them. Or convince them they are doing something evil.
Hackers do not care.
So, here’s my timeline:
1. Facebook gave my personal data to Cambridge Analytica. For a fee, I’m sure. I know this because Facebook told me they did it. They didn’t seem upset about and felt I shouldn’t be either.
2. Cambridge Analytica sold my data to hackers.
3. Then they got additional information by hacking my home router. This had already happened extensively in Europe, but no one mentioned it on our news, so we didn’t know. By the time it got mentioned, it was 24 hours too late for me.
4. They pretended to be a real company with whom I had done business and via the router, had collected sufficient data to make me think they were real. When they demanded money to protect my computer, I knew they were hackers.
5. They attempted to take money from one bank who controlled three separate credit cards, two of which I knew about. I stopped the transfers and they never got anything. The final one I only discovered later, but I was covered.
6. They locked my computer and demanded $1000 to “protect” it. Talk about a mobster move! Not only did I not have $1000, but there was no guarantee if I gave them money they would release my computer.
7. To get my computer back, I had to rebuild it. From scratch. Which was not so bad — boring but not difficult. Because I back up my files, I was able to restore pretty much everything.
8. I had to buy a new router with a protective patch.
Does this mean they can’t get me — or you — again? Of course not. These hackers are gigantic organizations. if they can hack Equifax, they can bypass any protection I install on a whim. Meanwhile, the places they operate are glad to have them. They hire people. They are a big business.
At the bottom of my personal mess is Facebook. They casually took my personal data and sold it to hackers. This is why I do not use Facebook. It isn’t merely their lack of ethics. It’s their lack of concern for me and you. They may do it legally, but I think they ARE hackers. Huge, gigantic, corporate hackers.
Facebook made this happen. Our government helped them by refusing to go after the hackers. If you thought Trump was a good guy, remember he and his team protected these guys, allowed the hacking. Encouraged it. Supported it. I wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of them were also getting paid off by these hackers.
You could be next. Don’t assume they wouldn’t be interested in you because you have so little. It doesn’t matter how little money you have. If you have anything, they will do their best to take it away.