I have a story….with much hesitation, I helped my sister several, several years ago in setting up her new computer, log in, wifi password, email accounts, virus protection, etc. I wrote all her passwords down for her and kept a copy for myself. I severely warned her about the vicious internet world and told her specifically NEVER download anything, don’t click on sites that ask something of you, only go to major sites, only go thru sites thru the provider’s browser and NEVER, NEVER give out passwords or personal information for anybody, anything, or person. I installed a free antivirus program, Avast, for her and told her never to shut it off. I told her to take a windows course on using the computer thru her local community resource center. Of course she never took the classes. I’ve had to help her several times thru those years in providing her log in information and eventually she being frustrated of the computer only for me to realize later she had already broken it and left it to the side to not be used again until years later when I helped her over the phone resolve the computer issue of not turning on.
Recently she was online again, with a new Netbook, on Facebook, twitter, dating sites, chat sites, etc. I severely warned her again about the vicious internet world and that FaceBook is not the “all friends” world people think it is. I warned her about accepting friends, this after she friended every one of my “drag” personality friends (not a bad thing but personalities on FaceBook LOVE friends), people from the Middle East, troubled East, and the Asian continent. I attempted to lay out the rules and suggested a process for her in accepting friends, only to find out she friended her slumlord, the father of her daughter’s son, the son who was distanced from the mother and my sister. I tried to explain again that not everyone is her friend and that people will friend you to get access to what you are posting, who you are affiliated with, or who is on your friend’s list. She countered that they friended her and I advised probably not because FaceBook in it’s all out “friendly” attempt to connect the world probably suggested these people either thru geographic location, church, community affiliation, or common friends. I again warned her about the “not everyone is your friend” philosophy. Three FaceBook accounts later two closed she is now upset with FaceBook and filing a complaint with the FCC and other powers that be that her rights were violated. I told her that all FaceBook wanted was to send a verification to prove her identity but of course of her many telephone numbers, she no longer has this one. I advised then that FaceBook will ask to prove your identity by sending a picture ID. She argued of course and I said well then you won’t be on FaceBook. Apparently someone did attempt to create a fake profile under her name but given she couldn’t prove with her own credentials either with a valid phone number associated with the account, log-in information to attempt to log in – she is now no longer on FaceBook. Now mind you I did tell her she still has one active account, the original one she created, but she doesn’t remember the password and the telephone number associated with the account is no longer valid so FaceBook cannot send a verification code. I, knowing my sister thru the many years of countless scenarios like this, told her that I have done the best I could to help her and that I was done with this situation. She said that was ok because she likes Twitter better and insisted that I join and tell our entire family to join as well. I advised I do not use twitter as FaceBook accomplishes the same agenda. I tried to equate that if you have too many ways to be contacted, no-one will know how to contact you. Having three phone numbers, multiple email accounts and now Skype and Twitter in no way makes it an easy process to get ahold of someone.
So last night I get three emails from her stating that she had been hacked and had to create a new email account. Each of the three emails contains a different email address totally 4 email address so I assumed this has to be related to the hacker and I responded as such that I have blocked all of them. I spoke with her today and after 10 minutes of clarifying with her that she could not have been hacked via email unless she opened up something, she was insistent that she didn’t and I countered then how did you know that the email said you were hacked. So another 10 minutes of clarifying and she said that when she turned on her computer she got the blue screen with the “files held for ransom” hack. So another 5 minutes I try to ascertain if she had been to a website that brought up this screen, she of course said no. I finally said that she had to have gotten the virus either by opening up an email and clicking on a link or clicked on a malicious link while web browsing. I tried to ascertain if she had virus protection on her new netbook as I suspected not or at best it was a 30 day trial now since expired. I tried to explain to her that she will have to take the computer in to get the virus taken off which will result in losing the files anyway. She said she spoke with a company and to myself I said, “O no” and asked how did she find this company and she said she called the number on the screen. I said, “Ina that is what they wanted you to do!” Anyway, she said they wanted $300 to release the files and to install malware. I said I hope you didn’t comply as they will never release your computer files and one would never want malware installed on their computer – not a good thing. She told them she didn’t have the money and I said they will forever call you now because they have the number you called from. I knew this would be the most I could try to reason with her so said I would call her tomorrow. I told her again that she needed to find a computer repair shop to have them reformat the computer or attempt to remove the virus (doubtful). I said to have them install anti-virus software as well such as the free version of Avast.
My story summarizes in that having a computer, laptop, or device to access the internet is not a safe process to the less informed. One cannot and shouldn’t be jumping on the internet without conceptually knowing how the internet works, how to use the windows or mac operating systems, and just how vicious a world the internet can be by constantly attempting to take advantage of the less informed, the exposure it creates from just being 1 person in a community of 100 to 1 person in a faceless realm of millions. Please don’t let your family, children or friends get on the internet unless they clearly know how to use computer operating systems and understands just how the internet works. The virtual world is just as dangerous as our real world if not more because of the facelessness that people on the internet can inflict upon others although not physically but with more of an evil agenda to steal your identity, destroy your financial wealth, steal your valuable and treasured information, photos, and intellect.