Tag Archives: status updates

What I Learned From My Cyber Scare

So. I feel like a complete idiot. Like my friend MJ said, I got a cyber wedgie. I’d venture a step further and say I got a cyber wedgie by walking up to the bully and saying, “Please, sir, could I have a wedgie? An atomic one? Let me wait here while you gather the tools and the other bullies you’ll need.”

Because it was all my fault.

It turned out fine, however, and all is well. But yesterday, I wasn’t so sure.

I was feeling pretty good about myself, doing my Superior Dance, because despite being very busy, in the last few days I had caught up on all my emails and had tackled Facebook. I hadn’t been on Facebook lately but a couple days ago I was jonesin’ for some status updates from my ridiculously clever friends. So I read all 492 and vowed to keep up with future updates because they really are a bright spot in my day. For instance, if I hadn’t caught up, I wouldn’t have heard stories (yes, multiple) of how my friend Lynda ”” my adult friend Lynda ”” gets her underwear on wrong ”” really wrong. I wouldn’t have known how my friends handled the tornados and other bad weather thrown at them. I wouldn’t have heard how book signings/birthday parties/job searches/trips went. And so on.

Yesterday when I hopped on Facebook, before I read any status updates, I saw I had a message from a friend I had recently corresponded with. She said something like, “This is funny. You’ll like it.” It made perfect sense because we had been talking about something funny, so I clicked on the link … like a dope … and was taken to a sex site. D’oh. I wasn’t worried, though, because I’m on a Mac and use Firefox as my browser which is excellent at blocking unwanted stuff. But I immediately clicked out of the sex site and went back to Facebook, reading status updates.

I didn’t get scared until I saw the multiple messages from this same friend who sent me to the link saying she’d been hacked or virused or otherwise cyberly attacked. That’s when I slammed shut both Facebook and Firefox and started kicking myself in the butt. Not literally, of course, because I’m not that limber.

Then I went downstairs where my poor, beleaguered husband was drinking his coffee and reading the paper.

Here’s how that conversation went….

Me: Um … how bad do you think it is if I clicked on a link I shouldn’t have?
Him: [sigh] What exactly did you do?
Me: [channeling Lucy Ricardo] Waaaaaaaaaaa!

Okay, maybe it didn’t go exactly like that, but that’s how I felt. However, since our business depends on computers working all day, every day, we have a Computer Guy On Retainer so hubbie offered to talk to him when he got to work.

I frantically tried to think of who I might have unwittingly dragged into this mess. I screwed my courage to the sticking place and got back on Facebook, sending a status update to everyone, hoping, unlike me, they’d see it before they got a message from me saying, “This is funny. You’ll like it.” Then I sent an email message to folks who aren’t obsessed with Facebook like I am and might, therefore, miss my frantic ALL CAPS WARNING. Then I called my kids, because, of course, they’ll open anything I send them because they love me and why would mom try to infect them with a computer virus?? Of course, my phone call woke up my daughter so I had to tell her 87 times, “Don’t click any links from me.”

I suspect she didn’t completely process the information till after lunch. “Weird. I had a dream last night where my mom called and told me, ”˜Don’t flick any dinks from me.’ Then she said, ”˜Don’t lick any minks from me.’ And THEN she said, ”˜Don’t pick any sinks from me.’ Even in my dreams she’s weird.”

My kids have heard a million times that they shouldn’t click on any links from someone they don’t know. But now these cyber bullies are figuring out that you will click on links from friends, thus hijacking your ”˜friend lists’ and your email addresses. And that’s why my hubbie told me not to feel like an idiot. But I still do.

I’ve always used Macs so I know they’re much safer than PCs in this regard, but I also know that neither Apple nor Steve Jobs can save you from yourself. Our Computer Guy On Retainer has a zillion layers of security on all our vulnerable PCs, but has always told us, “you don’t need to worry about your Macs as long as you don’t click on something you shouldn’t.” D’oh.

But for any of you Mac lovers, this is what he told us ….

“It’s probably ok. Unless she typed in an admin password, nothing could affect the system. There are no viruses for OS X and few trojan horses … so far anyway. Some of the Word Macro viruses are cross platform but are usually nothing more than an annoyance on the Mac.

If you want to check it out, download ClamXAV: https://www.clamxav.com/index.php?page=dl

Clam is an open source anti-virus application. It watches for suspicious activity and can catch Windows viruses in email and on disks even though they are harmless to the Mac.

Running antivirus software can’t hurt generally. If you set Clam’s Folder Sentry in the Preferences to watch the desktop and the Downloads folder it might catch an infected file before it was passed on to an unsuspecting Windows machine.

So far the only real malware for OS X that I’ve heard of is a trojan horse embedded in pirated copies of iWork ’09 and Adobe CS4 available on some Bit Torrent sites. If one were to download such a thing and run the installer, it would ask for the admin password as usual. But the installer has a nasty zombie net payload that lets the controllers direct and spy on your Mac from afar. Avoiding such things and being aware of what the application is asking when you are prompted for an admin password will protect you from all known threats right now.”

So we installed the Clam software and everything turned up clean, to my extreme relief. At that point, I knew I wouldn’t have any more ”˜splainin to do about my dopeyness.

But here’s what I learned, proving again that every horrible experience is yet another chance to get smarter.

• Nasty people that give you cyber wedgies make you feel really bad about yourself.
• When you’re on Facebook, always check status updates first.
• When I send a link I will ALWAYS say something specific about what it is. Like “watch this funny video about when David is all loopy after his dental visit” … or “here’s me at age 8 tap dancing and twirling batons of fire ”” how did that get on YouTube?!” … or “click here to be sent to a sex site.”
• When I get a link from a friend with cryptic or generic language, I will grill them … “where did you get this … what’s it about … am I in it?” before deciding to view it.
• I will continue to ignore links from people I don’t know.
• And maybe most importantly, taking a day off from your computer is, dare I say, lovely. I might try it every Wednesday. But without the cyber wedgie as a catalyst.

Have you ever received a cyber wedgie? How ’bout a real one?

My Funny Friends

I truly have the funniest, most entertaining Facebook friends. Many I know personally, but a significant number I’ve never actually met. “Friend” is a nebulous concept these days.

For those of you unfamiliar with the mysterious ways of Facebook, every day ”” or every minute ”” you can update your status on your profile page. Facebook automatically starts with your name, then you fill in the rest. All your friends can read it, comment on it, or just give it an effusive thumbs up.

Boring friends try to sell you something or tell you about yet another of their blog book tours or offer up fascinating tidbits like, “Becky is eating a sandwich.”

But my fabutastic friends say things like this over the course of about three days ….

• <insert name here> is repeating the magic words and waving her magic wand, but the house still looks like…oh, wow. No wonder we never invite anyone to dinner.

• is feeling virtuous. Hopefully it won’t last.

• It happened. It was bound to. I reached for my coffee and took a big swig of ink stained water – I grabbed the mug that I use to wash my brushes. Ironically, it’s the coffee I need to not make such mistakes…(India ink does not taste good).

• helped Katie today… again more industrious than the bloody industrial revolution…

• kicked over an ant hill today. REBUILD. Haha.

• Who names their child Aldous?

• had a couple of thoughts just now. Must be digging out of the cotton mush that took over my brain today.

• ‘s husband is a genius… he’s decided to “create a new month called Edu-vember, where teachers are able to catch up on all of their work without distraction! help spread the word!”

• bought a new orange basket, because nothing says ‘I love you’ like storing your kids’ toys in a receptacle that smells like cow dung.

• Favorite quote from Worlds: “OMG half the Staples Center just got eye-raped by Brian Joubert.” Only he didn’t say “raped.”

• Your mood swings are kinda giving me whiplash.

• is back at work, no sick Johns. (Um. Should probably clarify that I am not a hooker.)

• feels a little bad that my 7 year old left an empty table setting for me, and my 4 year old waited up past 9 because he wanted to say Good Night. It’s nice to be missed, and–hey! One of my kids set the table!!

• is so excited that her marshmallow tree is blooming like crazy and she will have a bumper crop of fresh marshmallows in a few weeks. Fluffernutters for all.

• is nimbly avoiding the past participle but crashing into the continuous aspect.

• imagines the students in his children’s lit class will greet his newly written lecture on the predictive coefficient of children’s fantasy with sustained applause, rhythmic clapping and stomping, and loud, piercing ululations of untrammelled joy tomorrow.

• was playing in his office chair and found a fun lever that made him fall out of it! *hops up and pulls it again* WEEEEEE!!!

• is listening to a fantastic Gordon Lightfoot record. Yes. I said Gordon Lightfoot. Deal with it.

• Wow! This message just makes a lot of sense – “Search is currently unavailable, please try at another time or right now.” Guess they’re optimistic that search is only unavailable for a millisecond or so…

• thinks winter is being a control freak. Relinquish!!

Do you want more of these funny bulletins from my friends in the future? Did any make you snort right out loud?