I’ve heard it could happen. I’ve heard of it happening to other people. But, like so many others, I never thought it would happen to me. I was careful. I did regular updates and maintenance on my home computer. I maintained up to date anti-virus and anti-malware software. I even blew the dust out of the tower every Sunday. I was diligent…or so I thought.
Two weeks ago, my computer was attacked by a virus and then hacked and then the whole thing crashed. Big time.
I had plans for those two weeks and those plans didn’t include dealing with the after-math of a total system failure. As a writer and as a photographer, I use my computer…a LOT. It’s fortunate I had the foresight to back up all my image files on DVD’s over the years, so I didn’t lose any of those. And, I do most of my writing on my much newer laptop, mostly because I like the mobility of being able to sit outside while I work.
But I use my PC for online things, like this blog. Which I’m still trying to figure out. And I had just set up an email sign-up and was trying to figure out how to use it when my PC crashed, which left new subscribers receiving…nothing.
I had Quicken on my PC, and even though I was diligent about backing up my financial records to both my hard-drives, I lost those records when we were forced to reformat the hard-drive; wiping out Quicken. Luckily, I’m a pack-rat and still have all the paper receipts if I should ever get audited.
So, overall, all I really lost was a few software programs, a little money, and my time. Two weeks of my time. The last two weeks I had to myself before I return to work full-time for the winter. Two weeks I had intended to spend revising Dust of Earth and writing the novella; Days of Chaos. Two weeks I wanted to use to learn about subscriber email lists and auto-responders. Two weeks I was supposed to spend completing an online class that I had already paid for, but wasn’t able to attend.
Instead, I spent that two weeks fighting with my computer and learning things about computers I never wanted to know, and still don’t want to know. I wasted hours trying to download and trying to upload. I wasted hours staring at parts of Windows I never even knew existed and still don’t understand. I wasted hours trying to back-up as much as I could, while I still could.
And for what? Because some LOSER thinks it’s cool to create computer viruses and attack other people’s lives. Because that’s what they’re doing. Maybe they think it’s funny, or cute. Maybe they think they’re going to get rich, (this hacker tried, but failed, to access my bank account, which would have been devastating for me if they’d succeeded, and would have left me without transportation to work next week if they had succeeded, because my Jeep needed a new radiator and new brakes in the midst of all of this…).
I cannot begin to describe the frustration and rage I struggled with for two weeks. Maybe hackers think it isn’t personal so it’s okay. But it’s very personal when you’re the one who’s PC has been hacked. It’s very personal when your life gets turned upside down and your finances are being strained by unexpected expenses and the inability to do your work. It’s very personal when you have to put your goals on hold to deal with a nightmare created by some faceless, unknown jerk who is hiding in cyber-space like the coward that they are.
I’m a very forgiving person. I’m so forgiving that I still talk to the man who broke my back, when our paths cross. But, even I find it challenging to forgive the nameless, faceless coward who disrupted my life and wasted my time for two full weeks. Get a life, asshole.