Breaking & Entering

Excitement! Disgust! Anger! Fear! These are all things that have gone through our minds here in the Insomniac’s household the last day or so. “Why?” you may ask yourself. Well, let me tell you the story. About 9:25PM, July 2nd, 2014, my phone begins to ring while I’m at work. I answer it because it’s my wife, and it’s rare for her to call me on my cellphone unless something is wrong or she wants to rub something in my face that I didn’t do, or worse yet, that I did do. The following conversation took place:

Wife: “Hey, did you come home on your lunch break?”

Me: “No.”

Wife: “Ummm, okay. You didn’t? Seriously? Yes you did.”

Me: “No, I didn’t, really. Why you asking?”

Wife: “Because someone’s been in our house. The doors are open and Bones is standing at the sunroom door looking at me. Did you leave him in the house?”

Me: “Do what? Bones is in the house? What do you mean he’s standing in the door looking at you?”

Wife: “The door leading from the sunroom to the patio is standing wide open. Bones is in the house, someone let him in. When we walked in the carport door, the sunroom door to the house was standing open and Bones is standing at the doorway just staring at us. He knows better than to come into the house, so he’s just looking.”

Me: “Front doors were locked?”

Wife: “No, well, yes. The bottom lock was locked, but whoever it was must have went out the carport door because the deadbolt was unlocked, and you know I always lock the deadbolt.”

So, my wife grabs a knife, leaves out freaked out 10 year-old, dog and 2 month old son at the door and walks through the house. You may call it paranoid, but I stayed on the phone with her and told her to check everything. Under beds, in closets, behind shower curtains and doors – everything. The strange thing was, nothing was missing – at least nothing that, to this day, we have noticed. Everything was in the same spot we’d left it, as far as anyone could tell.

The thing that we regret now, looking back on the last few days, is we never thought to call the police. Because nothing was missing, we didn’t even think to call them, despite having 2 cousins on the police force, a brother-in-law on the neighboring city’s police force and a few friends who work for our local police department in lower positions, we never thought twice ’til after the fact. By then, of course, those family members told us it wouldn’t do any good because the police wouldn’t treat it as a crime since we didn’t call them as soon as we noticed it.

So I get off work that night, a little after midnight. I get home, grab my flashlight, and my trusty guard dog and I make a trip around the outside of the house. We’re checking the windows, screens, crawlspace under the house and attic door. I check out in my storage shed, just to make sure nothing has been bothered out there, and declare all is good. Bones agreed and quickly ran back to the sunroom door and his bed.

Inside, I double check and make sure all the window locks are secure and double check the doors. We’re good to go so I dismiss myself for a shower and prepare to unwind. Once cleaned up and relaxed, I head over to my trusty laptop, which I’m typing on right now, and open it up. Right away I’m troubled because the screen flashes to life all on it’s own. It was asleep.

Allow me to quickly explain something: My wife knows my rules for the laptop I use. Don’t plug it in and leave it plugged in if you’re leaving the house. Don’t leave it on if you’re leaving the house. Shut it down, unplug it even if it isn’t 100% and leave it be. She had been working on some photos earlier, right before I went to work, so I assumed she’d forgotten and left it on. I asked.

Me: “Did you leave the laptop on today?”

Wife: “No, why?”

Me: “It’s on. I just opened it up and it’s waking up.”

Wife: “No, I turned it off when I was done with the pictures. It had a 45% charge left on it and I didn’t want to leave it running while I went to mom’s.”

Mind you, this conversation took place in seconds, and when I came around to the front of the laptop, that’s when I realized what our prowlers had done. I don’t know if you’ve heard of ransomware, but it’s a javascript bug that makes people think their computer has been taken over and locked up. In reality, it just runs inside your browser and tells you things like, “This computer has been locked up by the FBI. Your information is being recorded and stored because you’ve attempted to access pornographic material involving minors. To unlock your computer right now, please submit $600 to this address via Moneygram or some other payment method.”

ransomware

That’s the gist of it, anyways. It makes you think you’ve somehow done something wrong – usually with pornography – and it has these images from pornographic sites flashing on your screen. It tells you the FBI and other government agencies have been notified and you’re in big trouble. But they’re then nice enough to tell you that if you want to continue using your computer, just send them a few hundred dollars and they’ll magically fix it all for you.

Now, the javascript version is what I had. I’ve read on virus sites, like Norton, that there are some that actually get onto your PC and can lock the entire thing up unless you know how to track it down and remove it manually. There are numerous websites and Youtube videos that can walk you through these steps. Luckily, the folks that tampered with my laptop, either weren’t that smart, or just went with what they thought was the virus program. I say luckily because mine was a javascript loop that was only active in my Safari browser. Firefox and Chrome were fine, they hadn’t been tampered with. Also, possibly thanks to my laptop being a Mac, the fix for it was incredibly simple.

Fixing my laptop, I told my wife to go get our son’s iPad as well as his Gateway laptop he uses for school and some internet surfing. Thankfully, his was fine. The iPad’s batter was drained, which he insists it was well charged when they left, but the laptop showed no signs of tampering. So what was the deal here? Someone breaks into our house, lets our dog in behind them, messes with only my computer, doesn’t steal anything or touch any of the other computers. We’ve decided they were just screwing with us, letting us know that they could do it and did do it and just might do it again. And that, my friends, pisses me off more than anything else. I’d rather they have stolen something then live here not knowing what they did do while here. Did they touch anything else? Our toothbrushes? Our food? Our kids toys or bedding? WHAT DID THEY DO?!

Ransomware

Oh, I forgot to tell you the kicker. Remember I typed above that my wife said she turned the laptop off because it only had 45% charge? Well it had 99% when I raised the lid. Yes, they took the time to charge my laptop for me so their program could keep running. BUT HERE’S THE 2ND KICKER! The laptop was not plugged in when I found it. That’s right! They came back to unplug the laptop at a later time!!!

Here’s the basic timeline I have going based on what I could find on my browser history and last used program information.

3:30PM – Wife leaves house

4:22PM-5:45PM – Laptop is powered on, Safari browser is opened and go straight to Google, my start page. A couple of sites are visited, my Battle.net Launcher is opened but no games seem to be played. They type in a search for the ransomware bug and are taken to the page and it is started in my browser.

9:02PM-9:24PM – The laptop is opened up again. I’m assuming this is when they returned to disconnect the charger. The address book is opened twice and iPhoto is opened, meaning they looked at some pictures. Didn’t see anything had been deleted, but we do have a lot of pictures.

9:30PM – Wife comes home and calls me.

So, somewhere in there, with a 6 minute difference, my wife seems to have nearly walked in on them. I’m assuming that’s why the doors were left hanging open and our dog standing there staring at her. Because, to be honest, if our dog had been left in the house with the doors open for a longer period, he would have eventually ventured in to explore. I believe my wife pulled up and scared them and they took out the back doors. The deadbolt was unlocked because they had exited that way earlier in the afternoon when they were first in the house.

Is that not the creepiest damn thing you’ve ever imagined? You’re going in, they’re going out and while you’re on the phone and searching the house they’re probably peeping around the corner watching it all.

ransomware

And so we’re here. We’re taking further precautions to hopefully prevent it from happening again. I’m calling our fine dog a lost cause, but we’ll keep him around anyways. He is part of the family, after all. But yeah, that’s my exciting week leading up to the 4th of July weekend. Freaky crazy, eh? And if we had to guess who it might have been, we’d say it was either our neighbors to the right of us, if you’re staring at the street. Or some wilder foreign folks who have some shifty looking kids, teens and young adults that roam the streets at all hours of the day/night.

All I know is that if I ever found out who is was, I’d make sure business was taken care of.

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