Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Friday, 7 June 2013
Ever had an email from an old friend with this title, containing an attached hyperlink to an unknown site? Ever opened the site by clicking on it?
Then you will know - too late - that your friend's email account has been hacked and you have imported an advertising cookie which contains a bug which takes over your entire machine so that the only way you can get rid of it is to literally pull the plug out, if your computer does not allow itself to be switched off.
H.I. received just such a message the other day, and I said that it looked a bit dodgy - uncharacteristic of her friend's wording - and it should be binned without opening. Sadly, she persuaded me to open it, and I found myself looking at an advert for weight-loss products which was probably just a scam to get your credit card details in any event.
I could not get rid of it - it even disguised itself as a message from Safari, asking me if I was sure I did not want to take advantage of this offer from the 'weight-loss' company, and for the whole time it took me to get rid of it, an American salesman was droning on in a video which I also could not stop. I dread to think what would have happened if I had clicked on the fake 'OK' button from Safari - that would have thrown the doors wide open.
As it was, I kicked myself for clicking on the fucking thing, and shut the machine down manually using the 'off' button. If I had any other important stuff on the screen at the time, this would have been lost forever. Luckily, Macs are fairly resistant to this sort of attack, but they are by no means immune.
I called up the friend to see if they knew they had been hi-jacked, and the husband wearily apologised, saying that ALL of the people on their address list who had been as foolish as me and clicked on the link, had their machines buggered up by it. I don't know how easy these things are to get rid of on a Windows P.C. so I don't know how much damage was done to all their friends.
The trouble is that about half of the stuff on the net does not work when 'cookies' are disabled, so you sort of need to keep them going - especially for Google. Google explains that 'cookies' are a small piece of text which contains hidden codes which 'help them to improve their services' - by which they mean that it helps them to improve their services to their advertisers, by telling them all of your preferences in, say, fashion/shopping in general/sexual inclinations as observed by watching which sites you most visit, etc. etc.
Moral: Beef up your email security, not just for your sake, but for the sake of all your friends in your address book, all over the world!