Thursday, 2 February, 2017
Idiot hackers

I am under attack: 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It never stops. There are no let ups, no holidays, no respites. A campaign of continual assault on every computer and intelligent machine I own goes on non-stop. I have no idea why I am the victim. Since I don't know what it's about I can not run up the white flag to surrender. I either fight, and by fighting I mean continue to use computers, or give up my life which as a journalist and video maker is all about using technology.

These people are not trying to put me out of business. No-one could do that. For about £100 I can buy an old computer, install Linux and replace my data with the back up DVDs I'm forced to keep since I have a so called sheep dip computer (one that is open to the outside world) and use DVDs to transfer stuff from that to my many other computers. These DVDs once stored are excellent back ups.

I've lost a few hard drives over the years and three or four cheap computers. But compared to the time I have lost fighting the hackers, the cost of damaged equipment is very small.

My conclusion is that it is all about harassment and containment. The object is not to stop me but to slow me down, waste my time and discourage me. If that is so, how little they know me.

In the 1970s I was a victim of an intense harassment campaign run by a variety of organisations including an avowedly fascist political party. It was all about a 62% rate increase. At the time, I was a councillor in a north east London borough.

I was one of a very small number (seven) who opposed the rate increase in the political group I belonged to, but when it came to full council I took the whip and voted for it, despite my personal doubts.

This took me to the High Court, where I had to explain why I changed my vote, and by giving evidence I annoyed the judges. I am told my statement, or the judges' reaction to it, is a footnote in some legal text books. I was surcharged, but not over the 62% rate increase. That was another story.

The real campaign against us was conducted through the postal services and via anonymous leaflets. I got a death threat and a large package containing maggots (presumably intended to look like a letter bomb) arrived. The police suggested I go fishing.

As well as the maggots hundreds of packages were sent to us seven; the sorts of things you can get by clipping a coupon from a newspaper and applying for goods that you have to pay for later. At first the council sent them back, but after a while there were so many that the council got fed up and we had to send them back ourselves.

In addition to the personal death threat, my children were also threatened. An anonymous caller phoned the school they went to and so frightened the staff there that the headmaster personally brought the children home that night. But I was not the only one to be targeted in this way. Another of the seven had an undertakers call at her house who she turned away, explaining that she was still using her body and he could not take put it in the hearse. A rudimentary scaffold was also built on the grass outside the town hall.

I mention this not to prove how brave (or foolish) I am. I opposed the 62% rate increase.If I could possibly have stopped it I would have done. I was trapped in a stupid situation that was none of my doing.

The reason I bring the subject up is what happened next. Along with the anonymous phone calls (we got those too) and the parcel campaign, there was a very active anonymous leaflet campaign. At the time I was running elections and I had a team of deliverers. One of the standard practices was to obtain as many opposition leaflets as possible. One of my deliverers brought me one of the hate campaign leaflets that had an organ society newsletter on the back of it. By that I mean the musical organ!

So I wracked my brains and came up with the name of a person who I knew was passionate about these musical leviathans.

A few seconds later I was on the phone talking about pulling out the stops and other similar organ pleasantries. As an aside I asked if he knew who printed the particular organ society's newsletter since I'd like to get them to print something for me. Remarkably he did and gave me the address of a printer I knew sometimes worked for one of the rival political parties.

Running a harassment campaign is a tricky thing. It requires great subtlety and eternal vigilance.

In a world where technology changes at close to the speed of light, what seems impenetrable and undetectable today, may be a good deal more transparent in years to come.

There must be thousands like me who are being harasssed by hackers. One day some of us may club together and start a class action. There may be laws that allow snooping under some rare circumstances, but there are none supporting harassment. Whoever you are, make sure you have deep pockets and are prepared to lose your shirt.
Posted by Jonathan Brind.
Thursday, 2 February, 2017