31 July 2023

Impersonating, hacking and hijacking on Facebook

I have often seen people on Facebook announcing "I've been hacked", which is a very unwise thing to do, and also probably untrue.

If they had really been hacked, they would not have been able to access their account and post that message. But what I have noticed recently is that posting such a message immediately attracts swarms of hackers like bees to honey, and they swamp such posts with comments promising to rescue the poster's account from the clutches of the hackers, or to know someone who can do so. These messages are thoroughly disingenuous,  because the account in question hasn't been hacked, but copied.

Spammers like to impersonate Facebook users by creating a page that looks just like theirs, and then invite their friends to become friends so they can spam them with ads for shady financial deals (usually involving cryptocurrencies), links to porn sites and the like. This is not hacking, it is impersonation, and is much more common than hacking. 

If you suspect someone has been trying to impersonate you on Facebook, just search for your name. If you find a person with the same name as you, who has created a page that looks just like yours, using your photos etc., then report it to Facebook, and they will take the fake site down.

Similarly, if you get a friend request from someone you are already friends with on Facebook, ask your friend if they have opened a new account, and if they haven't, warn them that they haven't been hacked, but someone is trying to impersonate them. It's important to warn them that they haven't been hacked, so that they won't announce "I've been hacked" which is a sure way to invite real hackers to come buzzing around. If the new account does not belong to your friend, then you or they can report the bogus account to Facebook, and they will take it down.

But, whatever you do, don't say "I've been hacked" because if you do, you probably will be.

The hackers who come and offer to rescue your account, or recommend someone who can do so, will probably ask you for your login and password information so that they can "recover" your account, and that will make it easy for them to hack it, change your password, and hijack your account for their own purposes.

Remember, if you post a message saying "I've been hacked", then you probably haven't been, because if you had been hacked you wouldn't have been able to access your account to post the message that you had been hacked.

26 July 2023

Over Sea, Under Stone redux

Over Sea, Under Stone

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my second time of reading, and if anything I liked it even more on the second reading than on the first, so it still gets 5 stars, and much of what I said in my review of an earlier edition also applies to this one, apart from the comments on the illustrations, since this edition is not illustrated.

I was prompted to reread it on reading the announcement of a course on it at Signum University in September 2023, which I can't afford to participate in, but looks interesting nevertheless.

I first heard of this book, or rather of The Dark is Rising series, of which it is the first part,  when a number of readers of my children's books (listed in the sidebar) compared them with that series, and that made me keen to read them, but I failed to find any copies in either libraries or bookshops. Eventually I ordered the first two from Amazon, but before they arrived I found a copy of Over Sea, Under Stone in our local library and so read that one first. Having read it and liked it, I also liked the comparison readers had made with my books, especially as other readers had compared my books with Enid Blyton's Famous Five, a comparison I liked less.

When re-reading a book, one has more time to pay attention to smaller details, perhaps influenced by what other people tell you. Even on my first reading I was influenced by online comments that the language was old fashioned, and I commented on that in my review after my first reading. 

This time round, I was influenced by discussions about advice given to authors to avoid adverbs. There seems to be, at least among some authors of advice-to-writers books, an absolute taboo on adverbs. I noticed that Susan Cooper uses adverbs quite a lot, even the dreaded "Tom Swifties" that are used to qualify "said". But I'm pretty sure that I would not have noticed if I had not been consciously looking for them. I agree that some writers use too many adverbs, or use then inappropriately, but I don't think Susan Cooper is among them. When I was looking out for them, she seemed to use them well, and there was nothing that struck me as wrong about them. And when I wasn't looking out for them, I didn't notice them.

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23 July 2023

Fecund fertility in the Appalachian mountains

Prodigal SummerProdigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Creatures lived and mated and died, they came and went, as surely as summer did. They would go their own ways, of their own accord."

A book about sex and death, seen through the eyes of of three characters in a fecund fertile summer in a small farming community in the Appalachian Mountains of the USA, and the adjacent forest reserve.

Deanna Wolfe is a forest warden, concerned about predators, and develops a relationship with a man whose main aim is to hunt predators. Lusa Landowski is a young widow, who has inherited her husband's farm after he was killed in a motor accident, and feels the burden of her sisters-in-law's envy. Garnett Walker is a farmer and a widower, but old, and forever quarreling with his neighbour for allowing weeds from her property to infest his.

All three are concerned about and have studied sex and reproduction, but in species other than their own. Deanna is concerned about the reproduction of predators, and especially of coyotes, which are new to the area. Lusa is an entomologist, and has studied the sex life of moths. Garnett is concerned about the American chestnut trees, virtually extinct from an imported disease, and is trying to breed a new variety that will be resistant to the disease. But their own efforts to reproduce have been unsuccessful for various reasons. Over the summer, however, their lives gradually become intertwined, and many changes are evident in their attitudes and relationships.

I found the characters interesting. As I often find with Barbara Kingsolver's books, the characters a quite difficult to relate to at first, but then one becomes absorbed, and wants to learn about their fate, and, in the case of this book, one also learns quite a lot about the ecology of the area, and the environmental effects of different farming methods.

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