Russian Hackers Are Everywhere!

If you are expecting a big exposé on the last administration, I’m sorry to disappoint you, I don’t really know much about whether Putin was instrumental in electing the previous Prez, or if glasnost has been replaced by Chernobyl packets, but what I do know is that there are a lot of people with .ru domains that have nothing better to do than to send mountains of spam comments to this very blog.

A flood of these comments, numbering into the dozens per day, have been appearing and require manual filtering, which is time consuming and annoying, to say the least. A quick Google search on this topic assures me that I am not the lone victim, but rather this is a problem that pervades blog admins more or less universally. And yes, there are effective countermeasures that minimize the annoyance, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is an epidemic. You may ask, “What’s the purpose?” and as I understand it, many (some) amateur blogs allow un-moderated comments, which allows the bot or hacker to publish links on a bona-fide blog in the context of their meaningless crap, which point to product ads, porn sites, or entrapment sites, to name a few. Even moderated comments need careful editing to remove the embedded links, if they somehow actually get published. Keep reading for some actual examples….

Here are examples of two recent comments;

This one from “Amanda”

“Hello, you used to write magnificent, but the last several posts have been kinda boring… I miss your great writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!”

and this one from “Julie”

Good post! I read your blog often and you always post excellent content. I posted this article on Facebook and my followers like it. Thanks for writing this!

Although Amanda may have a very valid point and I thank her for her literary insight, I find it curious that both Amanda and Julie have the same “.ru” domain (Russian) email address and the same I.P. address, and each comment included different links to various nefarious sites, as did the next 3 comments from “Angela, Meghan, and Cynthia” also from the same source I.P., and also with seemingly innocuous messages. Angela wrote “You always do the right thing. God Bless you. Thank you”  Apparently, she knows me!

This blog uses significant protections against random and bot generated comment spam, and this is coincidental and additional to the many, many attempts that I get trying to gain access to the blog as an administrator, against which I have installed countermeasures. (See this article…  CLICK HERE ).

It’s just that with “Russian Hackers” so prominently featured in the news lately, I thought you might be interested to know it’s not just “The Donald” or Hillary that’s getting targeted, but even little old innocent me. At the risk of repeating myself, READ UP ON, AND PRACTICE SAFE COMPUTING! And above all, NEVER click on links you get in emails, even if you think they are from a trusted source. Navigate to the site directly using the address bar in your browser, or a strong password management program that inserts trusted links on command. I like KeePass, the lite version for PC, because it’s portable and will run from a thumb drive, so when you unplug the drive, there’s nothing to hack.

Lastly, since I don’t want to be perceived as a shill for any one software company, I will make this comment generic. I strongly suggest that you use some form of anti-virus / safe surfing software. Do your homework and read up on what is effective, both in cost and function, and use it. Be aware, that some of the big-name “free” software for this purpose may be all you really need, but also recognize that “free” usually isn’t really, and that someone has to pay for the huge development and distribution costs of popular software. Krebs on Security and the blog at FoolishIT software are interesting and informative, and the free and paid versions of CryptoPrevent might bear looking into for the concerned computist. Lately, the US Government has been nervous about purported ties between Kaspersky and Russian Intelligence, so that’s something to think about too.

As it turns out, as we use out PC’s, phones, tablets, iPods, etc., we are taking a lot of stuff “on faith,” that these devices are not simultaneously performing nefarious functions behind our backs. All convenience comes with some inherent risk of exposure. I wrote an article about that exposure HERE. 

Since most of us are not willing to give up the convenience of dozens of “Apps” and things like online banking and shopping, the least we can do is stay informed, protect our devices with prudent safeguards, and hope for the best. What degree of paranoia you choose to steep in is entirely up to you, but at least don’t go outside without your raincoat.

You have been advised!