From our contributor Chris R. in Blackfalds, AB
I got this letter the other day from a company I rented a car from years ago. The letter stated that due to a ransomware attack on the rental company two years ago (two!), some of my personal information might have been stolen by somebody. Right off the bat, I had to look up what ransomware even is. Then I wanted to grab a bat and go fight for justice, but with these things, there’s no winning, not for techless knuckleheads like me.
I have to admit that I’m at a sickening disadvantage when it comes to fighting back against these parasites. I’m into martial arts, physical training, and wearing shirts with no sleeves. How do you think it makes me feel when I realize that somebody can rob me without ever showing their face, and not only that, I’m too dumb to stop it because I don’t know how stop a hack? I really should’ve seen this coming, but back in the day, when I watched movies with hackers like Hackers or watched that girl hack the system in Jurassic Park, I never thought I’d need those skills! Now the joke’s on me. Now I’m the one who’s NOT going to hack the computer before the raptors get in.
I can run a cell phone, I can turn on a TV, but when a convection oven confuses me, there’s a problem. As for defending myself against these internet weasels, I don’t know how I’m ever going to catch up. I used that rental because I needed to. Sometimes you need a service, but you can’t unless you give them the info. So I didn’t have a choice, I gave them the stuff, and then did my thing and didn’t think about it again. The problem is, they evidently kept my information long after I forgot I purchased their services, and lo and behold, somebody came along and jacked me up when I didn’t even know I was still there for the jacking.
How do you defend yourself against that? How do you defend yourself in the past? This is some Sarah Connor shenanigans right here, and I don’t have a good answer, because even a toque-wearing nobody like me is ripe for the plucking. In five years, we’re going to be fighting off these blood-suckers like Neo fighting ten thousand Agent Smiths. Just you wait until they hack your shiny new RAV-4 and make you pay five grand to drive it again. Think it can’t happen? They’ll do it when you’re parked at a hockey rink in Lac la Biche at midnight on a Tuesday in minus 30. AMA’s gonna love these clowns. As for me, I’m not worth ripping off anymore, but that’s no comfort. How does someone Samurize these days? (If you got that reference, make it a true daily double, you grubby millennial.)
We grew up in the strange honeymoon of the computer, and at first, we had all the benefits. There was Nexopia, there was Limewire, there was Ebaumsworld, all that crazy stuff. It feels like the other foot is dropping now, and who’s going to stop it? I know what to do with a heavy bag, but do I really need to learn to code to protect myself and my unborn children? Is my little antivirus program going to stop anything? I’m sure the rental company had better security than I can pay for. It’s like hiring narcoleptic bodyguards: security that charges full price, but comes up short in the fisticuffs.
I will admit, every generation has had a reason to grumble about the next one; however, I don’t think any thief back in the day (1950, 1850, or 50) had the ability to pick a pocket from a continent away. Batman could probably handle this, but me? It’s an uphill battle. You can put a textbook on C++ in front of me, but I’ve got a better chance of translating the Voynich Manuscript than learning my own computer judo. Man. This one is going to take some thought.