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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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I’ve been Hacked! Insulted, too.

Uploaded: Mar 15, 2019

I awoke this morning to an ominous-looking email – it announced that I’ve been hacked. Uh-oh.

Now, I consider myself to be a reasonably competent, naturalized netizen of-a-certain-age. Tech will never be second-nature to me as it is with my native-netizen adult offspring, or my precocious grand nephew, who could navigate his mother’s iPad toward favorite animations before he could explain what he was doing - roughly by the time he could walk.

Thus, it got my attention. I know enough to recognize that a sentence with ‘hack’ and ‘you‘ in close proximity cannot be good news. The email read:

“I created special program to the adult videos (porno) site and suppose you have enjoyed this site for a good time (think you understand what I want to say).” Yes, I think I do understand – especially after my hacker helpfully modified ‘adult’ with ‘porno’ – so that means we’re not talking about my streaming of Masterpiece Theatre, right? Got it.

And then, after wowing me with jargon (about ‘RDPs’ and ‘keyloggers’ and ‘dual-screen video’ – what, no ‘fours-on-the-floor?’), came a dark implication. Apparently, my new friend wanted me to understand that not only could he display an offending website he claimed I’d visited, but also any, uh, appreciation that have been simultaneously expressed, webcam-ably.

“What exactly must you do?” my guy continued. “Well, I believe 1000 USD is a reasonable amount of money for this very little secret.” Not wanting to dwell on the range of ‘secrets’ to which ‘very little’ might refer, I read on: “You’ll make payment by bitcoins,” he ordered, and included both his purported wallet address and a helpful link to a primer on virtual currencies. Failure to pay within 48 hours would mean “transfer of your video files to each of your contacts, including relatives, co-workers etcetera.”

Wait – a thousand bucks? In bitcoin, no less, which I understand to be well past its sell-by date. I considered counter-offering with Confederate States currency, but a measly thousand bucks?? I’ve heard of these plots extorting $5,000, $10,000 or more. Where does this guy get-off, trying pry loose only that meager much money (unless he really has seen my bank balances)? Is That All my entire reputation is worth?

So, what to do. This situation is a bit like those ‘naked selfie extortion’ incidents. I’ve sometimes pondered that the solution to them would be for Everybody to post one of themselves, thus ruining the market, and the eyesight of multitudes. But I doubt that a pre-emptive strike in this case would be worth the time and considerable effort needed to produce it.

The clock is ticking – only about forty-two hours or so before my life might change. This situation does ‘focus the mind’, even if it’s just a hypothetical exercise.* Should I at least play along – maybe paying something, and plead poverty for the remainder – negotiate my ransom with this terrorist? Probably not.

First, is his threat credible? He’d included just enough information to spark concern in a reasonable mind – sort of like how one’s astrological forecast may sound generally plausible. But there was a distinct lack of detail – no specifics, no linkage, nothing.

Further, if he indeed had access to my PWs, why not just clean me out? Surely, he could have arranged to withdraw funds in ways difficult to trace – and unannounced, to give himself a head start. It just doesn’t seem to hang together.

But is it dubious enough to potentially stake a life’s reputation on its being a fake? I think so. First, following through on the threat would take some effort – and for what? Once he acts, he loses whatever leverage he had, in return for nothing. More likely, he might write back and maybe raise the ante to some more respectable sum (please?).

But really – would anybody care? I’ve often heard from litigator colleagues that their operating assumption is that everybody’s browser history contains adult stuff unrelated to Season 3 of ‘Victoria’ on PBS. Any such video here would also have to be pretty tame, lame and distasteful – probably generating more general and specific sympathy for the victim, than outrage, prurience or even humor. Enough of us have been hacked in various ways that these things don’t matter much anymore, and at least this identity theft hasn’t cost me anything.

But still, I wonder: WWJBD? **

* It’s hypothetical for several reasons, not the least of which is that I long ago taped a paper scrap over the business end of my webcam. I had read that bored and/or unscrupulous Admins sometimes gain access to them – just to poke around where they’re not supposed to lurk. That was creepy enough to spur me to find some scotch tape. And as to other reasons, well, they are really not your business, eh?

** What Would Jeff Bezos Do?
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 +   4 people like this
Posted by Bill, a resident of Pleasanton Heights,
on Mar 15, 2019 at 3:30 pm

I got the same email, but they included one of my lower level passwords that they did indeed hack. It's a password I used on car and RV forums, where I had no personal info other than my email address, so I was not too concerned.

Still, I used our antivirus software to find my vulnerable passwords and then I updated everything to "strong" level. Now the antivirus fills in the fields for me. Crazy. Computers are getting so good and so fast at cracking passwords that you really can't rely on anything that makes sense, even if its long.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 15, 2019 at 7:04 pm

I was hacked few years ago, same time as Embarcadero Media was hacked. The criminal that hacked Embarcadero Media was arrested and prosecuted. Thou, I never did learn if he went to jail or not, or if he was punished monetarily or what?

When I was hacked, I was receiving tens of thousands of repeat emails from Embarcadero Media publishers and editors. So, I believed my hack was related to the Embarcadero Media hack.

I wrote a letter to the sitting judge explained my problems with this hack, I asked her to throw the book at this criminal.

It was necessary that I delete my entire data base, which included addresses, received emails and sent emails, it was nearly 30K emails, took several hours over several days to complete the task.

The FBI called me, there was two FBI guys, they introduced themselves, asked me questions for thirty minutes, I will keep their questions and my answers confidential for now.

Since that hack, I purchased Avast security software, it is loaded to blow up anyone attempting to hack me.

I wish to pass on a tip. When you are signed into an email account or other program/software you work with, never, never, click on the X in the top right corner of the screen to exit, always, always, sign out. Clicking on the X to exit, may leave the door ajar for the criminals out there, signing out, slams the door shut.

 +   2 people like this
Posted by David Fergenson, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 15, 2019 at 8:47 pm

I received a similar email and did more or less what you did--ignore the sender and tell everyone so that everyone else will know that it's not true.

But I went one step further and looked up the Bitcoin transactions. At least in my case, the wallet that the hacker wanted me to deposit into had, along with two others, been feeding into a fourth. The total in that Bitcoin wallet was about US$2Billion. So this is a state level of revenue being collected.

I also backtracked the email to South Korea. So the state could possibly be North Korea.

This is all circumstantial evidence but it roughly fits with what I read on Ars Technica etc. about international hacking and extortion so I reported it to the FBI. I am realistic about the possibility that anything bad will ever happen to the hacker because of that but it seemed like the thing to do.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 16, 2019 at 12:10 pm

Thanks guys. I do not intend to open anything, as I lack any way to sequester it - lest some hidden pestilence be inflicted on my hard drive. But I will report it to the FBI.

 +   4 people like this
Posted by Doug, a resident of Birdland,
on Mar 16, 2019 at 2:55 pm

The lack of specifics is a dead giveaway that they don't have anything on you. This porno blackmail scam is an old one. I read some local Internet forum in which an older woman in her 70's was laughing about how some scammer sent her an email threatening to expose her porno related viewing interests. Needless to say, the scammer completely mistargeted his intended victim.

 +   2 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 17, 2019 at 11:26 am

Everybody has been hacked...best to ignore most if not all of the treats, etc.

It's nothing more than show business. Shucks...it might even be a neighbor getting even for something?

I like to pretend that the CIA is hot on my trail, trying to extort $$$$$$$$$$, NOT TO WORRY!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 17, 2019 at 11:29 am

Tom...it could be that nasty Kelly A. Conway trying to annoy you?

 +   4 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 19, 2019 at 11:25 am

Well, I'm still here, reputation (such as it may be) intact.

BTW, Cholo - Ms. Conway needn't go to Any special trouble to annoy me - she succeeds mightily as it is. Her husband George, however, gives me hope for their progeny.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by tomas wilson, a resident of Bordeaux Estates,
on Mar 22, 2019 at 4:56 am

tomas wilson is a registered user.

What happened to the measures put in place to control this (Web Link). Did they even start.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Mike G, a resident of Walnut Creek,
23 hours ago

Well, well, well...

Bob Mueller expects no further indictments, Mr. Cushing. Care to retract your statement regarding the "noose" comment you made a few months back?

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Doug, a resident of Birdland,
20 hours ago

@Mike G

Don't you think that it would be a good idea for you to see what is written in the Mueller report before you start running victory laps so that you don't end up with egg on your face? Or do you think that the report couldn't possibly say anything critically damaging about Trump despite the fact that multiple Trump associates (e.g., George Papadopolos, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, and Roger Stone) have been arrested, indicted, and pled guilty to felonies?

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Malcolm Hex, a resident of San Ramon,
19 hours ago

No new indictments planned Doug. More importantly, Mueller never recommenced any - which he could have done as special council.

And BTW, the “multiple" folk you speak of were never charged and convicted of crimes relating to Russian interference, collusion, whatever - which of course Cushing so desperately hoped for. Oh yes, Cushing so eagerly thought these folks would be all tied in to this collusion nonsense - and look what happened. Nada. If there were actual crimes committed by President Trump, that cat in the bag would have been let out a long time ago.

Mueller may have his suspicions - which may lend more light on what happened during Trump's campaign; however, the issue of obstruction of justice and collusion will be nothing more than a dream unimagined. On the other hand, the dream imagined has yolk all over Cushing face.

 +   6 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
13 hours ago

Yup - I should've pluralized "noose." My bad.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
11 hours ago

Patience boys, patience!

It ain't over yet. There are multiple investigations in NY...new stuff will come to light.

It seems to me that a few of the above poster's are in need of an enema.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Doug, a resident of Birdland,
11 hours ago

@Malcolm Hex

There's no doubt that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. In fact Trump himself inadvertently admitted that his son colluded with Russians in a Trump tower meeting to get damaging information on Hillary, and not to discuss “Russian adoptions" as was originally claimed by Don, Junior. Michael Flynn also met with a Russian (a Russian ambassador, I think) to discuss the lifting of US sanctions against Russia after the election but while the previous President (Obama) was still in office, which is a clear no-no. That's not election collusion because it was after the election, but it's still collusion which is why Flynn lied about the meeting. We also find that there are Russian connections involving Trump's campaign manager Manafort. We also find that multiple Trump associates (Kushner, Flynn, and Sessions) omitted to mention all their Russian contacts and meetings on their federal security clearance questionnaire SF-86 forms.

I'm not a hard-line Democrat. I'm an independent voter who calls them as I see them and what I see here is a heck of a lot of activity in which many Trump associates are having illicit contacts with Russians AND lying about those contacts or conveniently “forgetting" to list the contacts and meetings on very important security questionnaire forms. I think that all real Americans should be concerned about what's going on here and insist on a full investigation. So I'm confused why so many conservatives wanted to block this investigation. As for Trump himself, I haven't seen any evidence that Trump himself was involved in colluding with Russians, but if that's so then he himself should have been fully cooperating with the investigation to clear himself because there's no doubt that a lot of people around him were involved in illicit meetings with Russians.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
11 hours ago

The New York investigations and prosecutions will also include the Hillary emails.

 +   3 people like this
Posted by Malcolm Hex, a resident of San Ramon,
9 hours ago

Now, don't jump ahead Doug. Let's do this one by the numbers - you little social Dem you.

1. Mueller will not recommend any more indictments. Period.

2. Those individuals indicted we're not charged or convicted of treason, collusion, or conspiracy with the Russians. Stick to the facts Doug, Testimony and material evidence really do tell the tale.

3. You, and very civil I might add, suggested that I hold my tongue about the Mueller report. I would suggest you take a peep at Adam Schiff.

Old crazy eyes, who previously stated, "There is significant evidence of collusion involving the Trump campaign." He made this remark long before the Mueller report came out. I had my say based on what Mueller said. See the difference?

4. And finally... Doug, I was one conservative who wanted the investigation. Seriously, I did. I thought Mueller's investigation would be the only possible solution to stop the rumors from escalating. Silly me.

But I wonder... I wonder why you avoid shining light on the Uranian One deal, Clinton's email server, or the bias in the DOJ?

It works both ways bro; however, I believe you may be a tad more reasonable than what Steve - social Dem - Cushing scribes about.

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
9 hours ago

Who knows why anybody on planet earth cares whether or not Ms. Hillary's emails are noted by Mueller...duh

Hillary is waaaaaaaaay over! Bringing up Hillary is a way of diverting attention from the REALER CROOKS!

TOM...did you mean to say noose or niece?

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