Don’t let your data become a victim of ‘The Dark Overlord’

Don't let your data become a victim of 'The Dark Overlord'By now you probably have heard of “The Dark Overlord.” If you haven’t consider yourself lucky.

Dark Overlord is one of many computer hacking groups that attempt, and successfully I might add, to extort money from you. We have been a victim of such an attack in my own home. Suddenly a message pops up on my screen telling us that all of our information has been encoded and if we would like it decoded we must send them $500 immediately by electronic transfer or some other way making it impossible to cancel.

We did not respond quickly enough so we received another message saying that because we were so slow that the price was now $1,000.

I’ll be damned if I’m going to send $500 or $1,000 to some kid in Russia who has figured out how to encrypt stuff to such an extent that it is doubtful that even the CIA couldn’t decode it.

For us it was a terrible annoyance that required my wife to re-create perhaps hundreds of greeting cards that she designed herself as well as lists of contacts and every picture in her computer of our grandchildren. We were able to solve our problem by simply buying a new computer and redoing everything that she had done over several years.

Now what happens to the many doctors and dentists offices, hospitals and clinics that have kept records of their patients for many years and now have no access to them whatsoever. The same thing goes for police records and just about anything of importance to anyone.

I don’t know about you, but I am frightened of the power that these hackers have to the point that I am wary of putting anything online that might be used to charge things to one of my credit cards or dip into my bank account. In reading all of the latest escapades with the Russians, our FBI, our president, our former presidential candidate, etc. having their emails hacked, sent to Wikileaks and who knows where else.

Think about this every time you visit a new medical professional, hospital, urgent care center, etc., What is the first thing you are usually asked for: your Social Security number and then everything else that could be used to establish your identity someplace else.

Now do you actually know every one of these clerks hiding behind the sliding glass window well enough to be sure that they would not sell, for a good amount of money, all that information to an evil doer?

Because these hackers must send you an email requesting the ransom, they must have an IP address with which to send the email. Don’t you think it would be a simple matter for one of our investigative agencies to track down the location of the sender? Obviously it’s not as easy as I make it sound, but dammit someone should be able to do it!

Now I understand that these transactions take place using a new evil device called bitcoin, an electronic form of currency with which you can transfer funds to one of these bad people. They can cash them in with no trace of who bought them, who received them or who cashed them in.

Somehow this sounds too good to be true, if someone wants to do something harmful. With all of our technology there must be a way to stop this. Perhaps we should turn to CSI, New Orleans where they have a guy named Patton Plame who is an “Investigative Computer Specialist” with training from the U.S. Government.

I know this sounds far-fetched but how in heaven’s name are these teenage hackers in Russia able to outdo our best security agents in this country? It has reached the point where I am afraid to open any emails.

It seems just a few years ago when I first got Prodigy that I would get my three or four emails a day and go about my business. Now there are literally hundreds a day and I don’t dare skip over them because there may just possibly be something of importance on one of them.

Frankly I am beginning to hate technology and all the stuff that comes with it. I can barely watch TV without having to go through all types of machinations with my Roku box and the thousands of channels available to me that I have no idea how to access nor whether I will be paying for them eventually.

Oh one more thing: Having a backup drive does no good unless it is disconnected while the evildoers do their work. Essentially they do the same thing to your backup drive that they do to your computer. The best advice I have is to disconnect your backup drive and only use it once a week to back up your material. This is no guarantee but it might help.

Good luck, America!

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