You have now been ‘encrypted.’

cid_02086cb4bd5e41318d29853e16248d09gerard

Yesterday wasn’t a good day. I received a bill from our energy supplier. This same supplier, AGL (Australia Gas Limited) enticed us with a quarterly deduction of $5.- if we paid our bills ‘paperless.’ Going ‘Paperless’ is now the latest fad sweeping the world. You can tell, by the confident strides of people on the world’s pavements who now go through life totally ‘paperless.’

A common question and a good way to start social intercourse at parties is to ask, ‘are you paperless yet?’ Or, less common and sometimes seen as a bit of a friendly reminder or slight rebuke; pardon me Sir, your lack of ‘paperless’ is showing. At those internet quick sex of Romance and Introduction websites, some now ask to show their PL status. ‘Gent, 68 years of age, fully PL and NS, NG, ND desires a nice fulsome woman with some desires to go PL, seen as an advantage but not necessary for a jolly relationship.’

Yesterday was also the inauguration of our latest acquisition, a mini-pizza oven. We always wanted to get back into pizza’s and pizza cooking. This pizza oven fits on a table and made in Mexico of stone. We bought some special hardwood kindling. We thought we would first try out some marinated Angus Porterhouse with foil wrapped spuds and a couple of red capsicums.

This was before the ‘not so good’ came about. Let me explain. I usually hold off going to my computer to check e-mails or the latest hurricane making landfall. The coffee and early mornings’ spousal natter always takes precedent. After the ‘how did you sleep’ with ‘how often did you go to the toilet’ gets over, we heave ourselves from the sofa. Milo knows the ropes and precedes us going upstairs. Milo is followed by Helvi and then me. We switch the computers on. Milo slinks under our desk. It might be another two hours before we take him for his walk. He knows and resigns to this routine. He still gets miffed why this takes so long.

After I perused the news and open the inbox for a flurry of messages to blacken up my screen. I delete many, especially the enticements for Twitter and Facebook paraphernalia. I do answer most of the kinder posts and gradually follow the black list of inbox mail to the very bottom. One of the E-mails was by AGL to pay a bill and take advantage of doing so ‘paperless.’
‘Download your Statement,’ it urged me on, in its devious and pernicious manner. It also said; Thank you! (including the exclamation mark) THAT should have been a warning. But, I am not the sort of man that picks so niftily up on the mind of criminals. True, I do pick up deviousness in Strata monsters and have a well developed sense of people drunk on Body Corporate power, but for serious internet crime, I remain pure.

As soon as I pushed the ‘download’ on the AGL bill, all hell broke loose. I was asked to ‘run’ and ‘open’ the statement, but no statement came. I pushed again and again. Then a warning popped up to draw my attention that my files hade now been locked and encrypted. I needed to pay money to unlock my files within 72 hours. If not paid within that time, the amount would be doubled. I was given an ultimatum. It also infected my home-screen with the above message. I could not get out of it, no matter how I closed everything or re-opened again and again. I was so furious and spent hours googling for an answer. There are lots of help lines and web- sites. They too are often Malware/Ransomware sites. It is a mine-field out there. Microsoft did not give me much hope. They did say that many just pay up and get their files back.

Anyway, I have an American Friend from California. A man who from way back was interested in computers before they even came about. He steered me by phone to do this and that but mainly go through a very long scanning process. Each time I had pressed the ‘download’ button I invited the ransomware virus. It finally went and my home screen is again showing Milo. There was still time to fire up the Pizza oven and it was fantastic. The meat and spud just timed perfectly. The capsicums nice with just a hint of charcoaled skin.

All is well, but it came close to murder.

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32 Responses to “You have now been ‘encrypted.’”

  1. auntyuta Says:

    I am glad for you that all is well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Aunty. I came close to being catatonic with rage and almost whipped the pizza oven into submission with a stout branch of the Manchurian Pear tree.
      I was so angry.

      Like

      • auntyuta Says:

        It’s great that you were able to get some help. But I can understand that you were very angry. Hope you have a lovely weekend now.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        It was a pretty serious cyber attack, Auntyuta. Not at the same level as the Twin Towers or for drones to be flown in, but personally pretty unnerving.
        I complained to AGL. They received numerous similar complaints. I told them it was their initiative to tout for payments to be made on-line and go paperless. But, it could easily have cost me a lot of money to get my files back.
        I think I will go back to getting a paper bill, go to the bank, withdraw money, and then walk to the PO to pay it. It was very pleasant to do that and included exercise.
        You and Peter enjoy the week-end.

        Like

  2. Yvonne Says:

    Oh, I’m glad you were able to regain your computer, and your peace of mind.

    That pizza oven sounds like a good investment. Too bad it can’t burn some of the superfluous paper you no longer need!🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. gerard oosterman Says:

    The pizza oven is going to be used a lot I think. It takes a while to heat up but that is the nice part of it. There is none of the guaranteed success one gets from electric or gas cooking, but the anticipation of it succeeding is what we like. Of course, when it doesn’t you try better next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sedwith Says:

    Hello Gerard I have missed you. Go the pizza oven! (and screw the gas company). Been off the world of WordPress for some time now…entered twitterland as @whosunktheboat its my alternative news now and so much easier on my mobile. As for the land of cyber attack thats one reason I am off the laptop, that and the telco’s. Got hacked email acct from New Mexico US and all my contacts kept getting gambling emails – funny I never go online gambling except of course to post some things some people might find disturbing or maybe politically ‘dangerous’ but hey nothing to lose (except of course my cyber attack virginity – thankfully no big deal). Will check in from time to time. Missed your sound reality checks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Hello Sedwith,

      Most attacks come in the form of purported reliable companies s a Banks, Post office and Utility companies. Most of them are obviously fake. Banks are forever warning that hey never ask for personal details over the internet.
      I am sure that Twitter and Facebook are just as dangerous. I have never been able to use the IPhone as a computer. I always get stuck with having to enter passwords. That is actually a blessing.
      Thank you for coming back and I’ll try and put some of your political and social savvy links on my pieces here.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. shoreacres Says:

    This is one reason I am firmly committed to living a well-papered life. I don’t even use an ATM card. If I want cash, I go to the bank, hand a check written for cash to the teller, and get my money. To the degree that it’s possible, I pay everything by check. It’s also the reason I’ve stayed away from Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and such. It just isn’t worth it.

    Still, I remember my own little brushes with the cyber-aggravators. I was lucky: it taught me not to click links on news aggregation sites, and also taught me how to make use of Malwarebytes. I use that program every couple of weeks, just in case. So far, so good. Those cyber-locker people are the lowest of the low, in my opinion. I’m sure there are some who are lower, but it seems they focus their attention on people more interesting than us.

    In any event, I’m glad you’re back up and running, and have a pizza oven to aid in your recovery. Carry on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Not using an ATM card? That is truly amazing. You must be the patron saint of living a well-papered life. I am not sure I will ever reach that level but we will try.
      The Malwarebytes is now on top of Microsoft and Norton scanning sites.
      I often see elderly people in front of ATM machines with a bank employee outside helping them to get money out of it. It is just as easy to go inside and fill in a withdrawal form, but…the bank would have to employ people and that would eat into profits and into shareholders dividends.
      I used to have a cheque account but it cost me $60.- per month.
      So, sadly I am now partly a paperless man, forever on the look-out for scammers and crooks in all the nooks and crannies of the Internet.

      Liked by 1 person

      • shoreacres Says:

        Oh, my. My checking account has no fees, and I can write as many checks as I like. Not only that, when i walk in the bank, anyone who’s around, from tellers to the VP, say, “Good morning, Miss Linda!” It’s so nice, and the best reason to stick wtih local banks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Many bank customers have lost millions in bank scams and bad advise by ‘fund managers’. The opposition in Australia now wants a ‘Royal Commission’ in all major banks. Helvi incurred a $15.- monthly transfer fee dealing with her Finnish pension. It went on for years. We found out it was a total rip-off. We wrote a complaint and the fee was dropped. But…what about a refund for all those years she was charged? No answer.
        I am glad you have a nice local bank, Linda.

        Like

  6. rod Says:

    So was the DOWNLOAD link you clicked part of a genuine communication from AGL or from someone else faking an AGL message? Or had AGL themselves been hacked? It is truly amazing that you managed to solve this problem yourself – most people fail to crack it. Well done to you and your friend in US.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      No, Rod. The AGL e-mail wasn’t a genuine request but a fake. A more patient man would have picked up on the ‘Thank you!’ before pushing that fatal ‘Download’ button for the requested payment details. Also the amount was on the original request payment form. Those two items should have warned me. I am always impatient to immediately pay my bills.

      My American friend tells me that most likely my CryptoLocker was one of many fakes doing the rounds. He seemed to think it was a fairly easy one to escape from. He gave me a stern warning not to download dodgy e-mails. He reads and studies computer stuff all the time.

      I don’t know how elderly people will cope with all that cyber danger stuff. A tsunami of dementia is now sweeping the world. A forest of elderly are going to struggle with all this paperless stuff, passwords alone is becoming a nightmare, apart from other dribbles and ailments embedded in getting older. What and how will they cope?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. algernon1 Says:

    A tecno savvy mate of mine was caught out by the same email recently, of course their power comes from AGL so they didn’t think twice. I’ve been receiving the same email but our power comes from a different supplier so its easy to delete the email twice.

    Recently though I’ve got a new mobile phone for work. Anyhow received this call a couple of weeks ago from Victoria, I have some business there and the phone number similar. Anyhow I rang the number back, AGL or so I think. They were talking about my late payment on the bill and asked for my details. I told them that the phone was a work phone and that I’d never had an AGL account. That didn’t stop this clown. Refused to give him details and emphatically pointed out I’d never had an account with them.

    Another call from the same number on Friday asking for someone (not me) to which I told them not on this number. I’ve now blocked the number. I don’t know if it’s AGL or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Big M Says:

      Algernon, I receive an email every week from a different source demanding that I urgently pay around $2500. The amount is always slightly different, and there is always an ‘ account ‘ to download. Mrs M receives constant mobile phone enqiries about an urgent tax matter, and a minor car accident from last year. I keep telling her to tell them to f+*# off, but she’s far too polite.

      They really have no morals at all.

      Liked by 2 people

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        I suppose, if one has time, is to pay bills at the PO. It gives opportunity to talk to someone or even smile. That sitting behind computers paying bills is rather isolating.

        So much of living is now causing loneliness. All those poor sods standing around bent over their iPhones, texting or worrying they did not reply to a ‘like’.

        What is the world coming too? There is Trump going around grabbing women. He must be so isolated and yet, millions cheering him on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • algernon1 Says:

        Big we get the same. Had Bruce who sounded Indian call me about a car accident but not to worry. I told Bruce we didn’t own a car and he was a scammer, I’m getting onto the police right now by which time they hang up. Mrs A got the ATO scam and thought It might be real until she rang me and told her it was a scam and to hang up. I’ve told them to f^&* off too.

        Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      It is going to be a nightmare for the future, Algy.

      Endless calls and email scamming, to worry the elderly. I so wish they had cash only shop registers. The fumbling by shoppers with cards and pin numbers holding up cash paying customers. I believe they can get money out of you by scanning the cash card while in your pocket.
      So much to grumble about., but for many in old age; what else to do? Drink weak tea and look at geraniums?

      Like

      • algernon1 Says:

        Tapping and goings another problem Gerard. We had to get new credit cards after some suspicious transactional activity. Bank contacted us at 11pm.

        Like

  8. Curt Mekemson Says:

    We are drowning in scams, Gerard, of all types. The other day, I was at our local grocery store and heard one employee telling another that he was worried because he had received a robo-call from the Internal Revenue Service saying he had a problem and needed to call. I stepped in and explained that the IRS does not make robo-calls or leave voicemail or Email. The IRS communicates with registered mail when it wants to inform you of a problem. I assured him that he was dealing with a scam and to not return the call. I sometimes think that half of the world is involved in some type of scamming operation. I know that isn’t true, it just seems like it. Peggy and I have gone more or less paperless since it allows us to travel and take care of business on the road. Sorry for your problem. I’ve been there once or twice and no how terribly frustrating it can be. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We too keep getting calls about a ‘Cindy.’ No matter how often we tell them we don’t have a Cindy, next day again. Can I speak to ‘Cindy?’ I am sure it is also a scam. Often the phone rings just once or twice before quickly hanging up, and hopes you call the number. I am sure when you do, it might cost you money.

      Like

      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        We love that our phones now list who is calling. If we don’t recognize the caller, we don’t answer, Girard. Our feeling is that the caller will leave a phone message if its important. Also, usually robo-calls are designed to shut off it they don’t get an answer in 3-4 rings. Apple, Google, etc. have recently joined with the US government to work out ways of eliminating scam and sales calls! My fingers are crossed! –Curt

        Liked by 1 person

    • Big M Says:

      Mrs M recently endured this. Robot voices to her mobile from the tax department, when the primary contact should be the accountant.

      Where will it all end?

      Like

  9. Big M Says:

    My son’s company had a cyber attack last year. He contacted Symantec, their anti-virus and ISP, who immediately contacted ASIO and the Federal Police. The culprits were never identified, but, it turns out that gangs in the former USSR randomly attack Western companies in the hope of stealing designs, patents, or information that may affect share prices.

    Like

  10. Big M Says:

    Todays emails: Three ‘phishing’ emails from someone masquerading as Paypal, and one from my friends who want me to pay $2100 for a product I’ve never heard of!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I keep getting phone calls for ‘Cindy’. No matter how often I say; ‘no Cindy here.’ I keep getting them. I have listed my number with stopping cold calling but this asking for ‘Cindy.’ keeps coming. Perhaps I should say; ‘Yes I am Cindy and see what happens next.

      Like

  11. Lady G Says:

    Thanks for this post.
    I recently read that there has been an uptick in the number of individuals who are being targeted–not to mention hospitals, police departments and so on…
    I am glad that it all worked out well🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      They tell me that with Apple computers there are none of those threats possible. Is that true.?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lady G Says:

        Hi Gerard🙂
        Most all of my computers are Apple and I do have to say that I haven’t had as many problems with ‘random’ viruses-in comparison to my Windows based computers.
        But, unfortunately, as in your case, a person could be coaxed into clicking on an innocent looking link that downloads a trojan horse -that could happen with Windows or Mac.

        Like

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Thank you, Lady G. It was yesterday when my brother told me that Apple is more protected. I was foolish enough to download a statement on what appeared to be a genuine gas bill.
        It was indeed a Trojan horse. A good description.
        I am now forever on the look-out for strange e-mails.
        The IT world is not so good anymore.

        Like

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