Friday, August 31, 2012


In the last 48 hours.... a dozen or more unpublished posts were deleted from my Blogger account, and I've had my primary e-mail account failing to send out or receive messages for a period of about 6 hours (although I think everything went through eventually). Even more worryingly bizarro, a filter had appeared in the e-mail account that was seemingly intended to direct all messages originating from my own address to the Trash folder (that wasn't what was interfering with my sending or receiving of messages, but it might have caused additional problems later on, since I typically do Cc or Bcc myself on important correspondence - to check what kind of delays are afflicting my e-mail transmission).

And then my computer suddenly CRASHED altogether. And failed to restart for the next several attempts.

And when I did finally get it going again, I found my VPN - which I thought I'd managed to restore to full functionality in the morning - was being blocked again.

I disconnected from the Internet for a good long spell, rebooted and reset everything I could think of, crossed my fingers, and swore profusely.... and after that unfailing ritual, everything (touch wood) seems to be back to rights again.

It is, however, hard not to believe that I have been targeted for some special attention by hackers.

The coup de grace was that the bastards changed my clock as well!


Anonymous said...

Having a trojan on your computer, if that is what you mean, is quite serious and lets others have 100% access; it should not be ignored. Often people seen as "critics of China" have been targeted, particularly through email.

Froog said...

Well, I ran full scans with a number of different anti-virus programs, and couldn't identify any problem.

I had thought initially that my problems might be related to having recently authorised a helpdesk engineer from my VPN provider to have 'remote access' to my computer to try to help me sort a problem. Since that session got prematurely terminated, I thought it was possible that the link we were using didn't get properly closed, or that someone monitoring my computer at the time had been able to steal the access code to restart the session. However, the VPN people assured me that the remote service they use is well secured, one-use only, automatically timed out. And I suppose if someone had been accessing my computer via that service I would have been aware of it.

I am not more inclined to think most of it was unfortunate coincidence. Blogger is prone to incomprehensible fuck-ups from time to time. It is hard to see how a hacker messing around inside my computer would have been able to access my Blogger account through it, or would have thought of deleting only my scheduled posts (which I might well have had backed up offline) rather than ones already published as a way of pissing me off.

Similarly, I've experienced several previous instances of Dell laptops crashing badly, for no apparent reason. On this occasion, I suspect it may have been related to overheating. It was a warm day, and I'd had the computer on a long time; the fan was starting to get a bit noisy. I have no idea how a crash like this could lead to my clock display being spontaneously reset, but I'm sure it can happen.

The problem with the VPN I discovered to be a reoccurrence of a small problem I'd recognised earlier: the virtual adapter it uses sometimes spontaneously resets to 'disabled' and then won't enable again automatically. Unless you're constantly monitoring it in the Network Devices window, you don't realise there's a problem.

I'm not even sure that the Yahoo Mail problems were a hack. That rogue filter was the weirdest piece of evidence, hard to dismiss; but apart from that, Yahoo becoming dysfunctional for an hour or four at a time is, sadly, all too common.

So, maybe I just had a VERY UNLUCKY day. When 4 or 5 or 6 - seemingly unrelated - things all go wrong in quick succession, it can make you a bit paranoid. But sometimes it is just bad luck rather than enemy action.

Froog said...

Ugh, there was a 'not' for 'now' at the start of my third paragraph above. I must do something about this spongy keyboard.

Froog said...

I am very careful never to follow links in, nor even usually to open suspect e-mails; so I think I'm fairly well proof against malware getting on my system by that route.

I have in the past certainly been subject to monitoring/interference with my e-mail and telephone here in China; but I think that's down to the fact that my real-world persona is friends with a lot of journalists rather than because my blog persona is occasionally a bit of a China-basher.