Most writers would agree, the lead of your story is critical. It grabs the reader, pulls them in and hopefully snags them long enough to read your story.
But when the RCMP helicopter is flying overhead so low again that the soundtrack to Apocalypse Now plays in your head, it’s kind of hard to muster up something really intriguing. I ended up putting this post to bed last night and started again this morning.
Despite the concern over what may or may not be happening in my city,I’m so happy to be back in my blog here, blogging. The last two weeks have been pretty interesting…
It didn’t just start with the events that unfolded live on twitter and resulted in the contents of my blog being deleted and my accounts being hijacked, it actually started a few weeks earlier. I’d noticed a few concerning incidents but when I logged into my blog account one night and saw that a very astute comment a reader had posted on the BC Hydro WAC Bennett dam post had been moved into the trash bin- a manual action in this platform,not automatic- I knew someone had access to my blog.
I moved immediately to a secure location to make the needed changes to secure all my accounts but it didn’t end there.I ran scans on my pc,but nothing was picked up and that didn’t surprise me-I know that malware or malicious programs can rewrite the definitions of your security software to avoid detecting the offensive program.
The evening it all went down, whomever was in my accounts and PC was no longer even trying to hide their presence. I was able to sit and see things happening right before my eyes, and out of my control. I reached out for help to secure my accounts but it was all over in minutes. A new account was started on twitter using my name-the first tweet was that my blogging career was ended and the second was that my blog had been taken over and no one would assist without interference. The account claimed to be Anonymous but it was clear that it wasn’t right from the start.
I started a new twitter account to let people know what had happened and wrote this blog post with a screen shot from the account.https://thereallailayuile.wordpress.com/ The morning after I filed an RCMP report but it didn’t end there. Concerned readers were asking what happened and when I advised them that a police report had been filed, the hacked account responded to me, CKNW and Surrey RCMP on twitter. Then the account tweeted a direct threat of kidnap and death to me, visible and seen by thousands.
RCMP were called again and responded to take statements and gather evidence. Thankfully readers following the drama took screen shots of everything while I was busy with RCMP and as if this wasn’t already bizarre enough, while that was going on,people on twitter were asking Anonymous why they hacked my account and they responded that they didn’t and my coverage of Site C was excellent. Shortly after an Anonymous support account confronted the hacker and hacked the account back,again in front of everyone watching on twitter.
RCMP and other agencies have been investigating so that’s as much as I can say as far as that goes, but it is clear now that what was happening prior to this event was not a random act. Thanks to some excellent cyber security professionals who’ve taken a look at this, the shared opinion is that it looks like a paid job to gather information as well – “SOP” standard operating procedure they say, at least in the corporate world. At some point I will be able to share more-there is much more to tell. You think you’ve seen the darkness of the world and then you see an entirely different level of it. Yet another moment of innocence deconstructed.
If there is a silver lining to be found it is the wealth of information I’ve gleaned from the people who stepped up to assist on the tech side, and the friends,readers and colleagues who assisted financially in getting me back online so quickly. Words aren’t adequate to express my gratitude for so much support- Thank you. 🙂
Now some items to help those around me, particularly other bloggers or individuals out there fighting the good fight online.Always use two-step authentication on your accounts. Use military strength passwords -long and indecipherable. If you use twitter, go into your settings,go down the options until you hit Apps. Disable them all and revoke permissions- apps are the fastest way into any account or device and Twitter cannot ensure the security of those apps when they aren’t theirs.One of my helpers compared it to leaving your screen door wide open and then wondering how a crook walked right into your house….
When you are done that, go down the menu to Your Twitter data- you will be asked to enter your password again. This shows you every device and IP address that has logged into your account and it might surprise you if you find something there that shouldn’t be.
The week before this happened, an app that I had used once briefly and then revoked access to more than a year earlier,accessed my twitter account in the middle of the night. That same app accessed my account just hours before this all went down on the evening of the 23rd. The hacker had used that as a backdoor entrance into my account which tells me some research was done to determine what apps I might have been using.
The same applies to Facebook, or your phone and even your laptop. Go into the settings on these devices and accounts and you might be surprised to find out which apps are already authorized to access and use your camera,your sound system, your contacts and pretty much anything else you assume incorrectly,is private.
Talk via direct messages in twitter or Facebook? Delete them on both ends of the conversation right after you do. Better yet, use the phone next time 🙂
More than likely the majority of the public don’t have to worry about things like this but if you are writing about the kinds of things we do, you must. And you must take this seriously.When there are billions of dollars on the line for contract work and you are exposing flaws and wrongs in the process, when you are writing about patronage grants and cushy rides on the gravy train or when you are simply blogging about the waste and favours of government, you need to take this to heart. Piss off the wrong person and bam.
What shone bright through much of the darkness of the last two weeks was the extent and strength of the community we bloggers have built online. I would not be here right now,without the efforts & contributions from my friends and readers. Many of our readers are shared, stopping at Norm’s place and then RossK’s before making the rounds. Our social media presence is growing – with nearly 4000 followers and a devoted following that shares and retweets, I can make hundreds of thousands of impressions. That makes our collective presence a powerful force to get information out fast and each of you is an important part of that.
I took the opportunity to change the format here and I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know if you encounter any kinks or bugs. I’ll have a new post for you shortly so check back soon. Until then, take care and thank you for all that you do. Writing is a struggle against power and silence, but together we can make a difference -I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe that with every single bit of my being.
** A few must reads for you this weekend:
~Our favourite contractor here in BC, Kiewit is under fire again in the US courtesy of the best headline ever ( Imagine seeing this in your local paper!) http://www.laweekly.com/news/mta-shells-out-an-extra-100-million-on-screwed-up-405-shitshow-6198880
~What? BC Hydro is paying Independent Power Producers to NOT make power? You don’t say… H/T to Desmog for this excellent piece http://www.desmog.ca/2016/04/05/b-c-hydro-paying-independent-power-producers-not-produce-power-due-oversupply
~And,two months after I reported this to DFO,it’s making news… Non-compliance by contractors at Site C https://lailayuile.com/2016/02/10/more-questions-raised-about-site-c-construction-compliance-with-provincial-and-federal-fisherieswater-regulations/
~ You’ve got to read it, to believe it…. http://thetyee.ca/News/2016/04/09/How-Clark-Talks-Kids-Taxes/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=040916-1&utm_campaign=events-0416