Thursday, April 22, 2010

Trojans, Hackers and Internal Happiness

It’s a good concept, Internal Happines... It’s even a great thing when you can get it done…but like many good things, things of quality, it needs, I guess, much care and attention…

This world we live in is not an easy one: we are privy to be able to access phenomenal amounts of information online…are you like me and remember leafing through the see-through pages of Encyclopaedia Britannica to find the facts on all sorts of what at that time felt like a universe of information? Today the shelves that those volumes occupied in our house hold our aging vinyl record collection…the encyclopaedias get used as shelf props, weights, and footstools. Today, we have the internet – universes of information…or so you’d think.

Recent events have had me to take a big hard second look at my relatively casual relationship with the internet. I Google my name and you have to go as far as page 16 to start getting results that are not 100% me…I am an open book; my own personal universe is connected all through – you can see I am who I am – trace me back and forth, in and out and I will still lead you right back to me. I do my best to not post too much personal info, but if you want to know if I am genuinely who I claim to be…no problem there, just browse a dozen pages or so.

BUT…that is not so for many people. Some are just ultra cautious, or grew up maybe in St. Lucia where you didn’t let the spirits know your real name, so in your home you had a ‘house name’ to protect you…and so your internet trail mimics that life…aka this aka that…a-not-ka…Others are deliberately deceitful.

Where it comes to internal happiness, and the universe of the Internet, we, Houston, have a problem. It is possible to ‘meet’ people from anywhere on our little planet…chat, exchange information, share jokes…but is it possible to know a body? How do you tell if they are real or really not? The reality is that it will probably be too late before you are able to find out those that are really not who they present themselves to be…and that is where we come to the issue of internal happiness…you have to choose.

You can do all you can to ascertain this, correlate that…in some cases, like with most of the good friends I have made, their trails are so open, it is obvious., but for many, the trails go nowhere…so no matter what you may think, feel, believe, wish to believe…despite the phenomenon of the connectivity of the internet and the vastness of the information at our fingertips, you just plain, cannot know.

So along comes another breed of human…the exploiters…Now, people who know me well, will maybe have heard other people who know me well, or my own family joke that I have a great criminal mind…yes, I do. But perhaps because of my parents' good efforts I pretty much haven’t used it for such…lol, I’d like to say ‘never have’ but I’ve had my moments of rebellion :)

Anyway, my mischievousness is not what I am thinking about as I fight to maintain my internal happiness. Unfortunately, it is my daily efforts to get back my privacy that was and continues to be invaded by I don’t know whom…Yes, I have suspects but I am, frankly, at a loss to know how to stop their access…and in my concern, I figure I should share with you.

My Mac…yes, my Mac, not PC…as far as I can tell was hacked…is hacked maybe still. I have downloaded and used scanners that are supposed to be able to find the existing trojans that target Mac…they have found nothing. I used my ‘Tech-Angel’ friend’s advice and instead of typing my password into my email – and so exposing it to keyloggers’ thieving – I buried it in a block of text in a text editor, and copied and pasted it from there each time…but it would seem my account (GMail) was still being accessed…

I’ve been regularly checking the Gmail ‘Account Activity’ Log (found at the bottom of your Gmail page – click ‘Details’) and I don’t see multiple IP addresses…if you do see a change, you can check if it’s in your area or not by Googling ‘where is IP……..” so at least you can know when it is yours…remembering most of us have dynamic IPs so they will change within a range from time to time…Google that too – you can know your area’s IP range. If you see more than one at a time…chances are someone else is logged into your email account…read the Gmail info here.

So this evening, when I was told stuff from my account it would seem – though I have not been sent it to see for myself – is still being stolen. I researched some more…there are trojans, even for Mac that can copy your clipboard…anything you type…yes, those password protected files too. I used these two scans but nothing comes up…

What does this mean? Me nah know…seems to me one of these possibilities: 1) the scans are not catching something on my Mac 2) someone else in this conversation is compromised, not me 3) the person providing the ‘information’ is perhaps ad-libbing…4) Someone is not who they pretend to be 5) I cannot know…and as such, I must choose to trust or not to trust based on…whatever I feel like. I’m a criminal mind, not a psychic…that option doesn’t cut it with me…

What does work though is that I will not lose too much more sleep over this…I will find my internal happiness…that is the one armour that I know works beyond the tangible. Whomsoever needs to be ignored, washed out, relegated to the ‘delete forever’ button…so be it.

In the meantime people…take an afternoon or so to read up, get caught up with this sad game…spend some money on antivirus, internet protection, spyware detection…set it up, use it. Change your password habits – I still don’t bother much with non-critical accounts, but your online email, your banking…do as they say, change often and use the most difficult way for access…deal with that minute inconvenience.

Illigitimus non carborundum – (bastardized latin for ‘don’t let the bastards wear you down:) Enjoy the people online who are real…who choose to be open books…and otherwise…keep calculating those risks.

Life is meant to be an adventure and if you don’t stretch beyond your comfort zone, you will surely miss out way too much…somehow we just have to be aware of when the shear point is being reached and things will fall apart if we keep on that track.

My belief is that Internal Happiness is a choice we make because of, despite, before, beyond and after everything else. It’s not borne out of ignorance, but cannot be gained just from knowledge either… I suspect it has a lot to do with being present and keeping faith…

I’d love to hear what you think – your experiences and advice in the hard matters of internet safety as well as of internal happiness….Please be aware, in all this I have chosen to now moderate my comments…so bear with me, I will do so as quickly as I can.

And to those of you who are messing with my life – get over yourselves, really.

As ever,