Commentary

Insta-Hacked

I like to think of myself as being rather geekily inclined.  Certainly I’m no stranger to hacks and people doing surreptitious things online.  Even so, I managed to become a victim of the latest (and not so greatest) hack that’s being perpetrated on Instagram in the past few months.

In the hack, someone asks for your assistance in ‘getting their account back’, or manages to dupe you into accepting a text message from them, that includes a link.  What you’re unaware of (and they usually tell you several times NOT to click on it) is that the link they’re sending you is a password reset of YOUR account, not theirs.  While you’re being distracted by their claiming (after you screenshot the link and copy it to them via Instagram) that nothing is yet happening, either they or someone they’re working with are behind the scenes, logging into your account and kicking you out.  Instagram almost wholly allows them to do this, because they’re utilizing a security process whereby under normal circumstances you can get back into your account if you somehow locked yourself out by processes that might be completely innocent.  Once they’ve gained access, they then change your password, change your email address and then to add insult to injury, enable the two-step verification, making it nearly impossible for you to legitimately regain access to your account.

So, this is what happened to me.  It was this past Saturday, I was getting ready for work and not paying attention.  Too, I was on my tablet, which doesn’t have email access, and the hackers lucked into a perfect situation.  Someone on my followers list (I’m not going to list the account here, as it wasn’t her but they perpetrating the hack) messaged and said innocently enough ‘Can you do me a favor?  I’ve been locked out of my main account and need assistance getting back in.  Instagram isn’t being helpful.’  Which as we will learn later, is all too often the case.  Instagram, being a program under the umbrella of Meta, doesn’t have what one would call a customer service system.  They do, but not to you and me.  IF I had millions of followers and this happened, they’d be falling all over themselves to assist.  Me, with my measly 300+ followers, no such luck.

Getting back to the situation.  I should have ignored the message, but it tugged on my heart strings just the right amount (classic damsel in distress issue) and I thought, what could be the harm?  [Well I found out just how much harm in the next couple of days.]  But, I digress.

So I bit at the apple and went to work, after (stupidly) telling the hacker I was going to be out of touch for 8 hours, since I was going to work.  So they had plenty of time to do what they were going to.  And they went ahead and did their dirty work.

By lunch time, when I went to check on my IG account, I was logged out.  I tried to log back in but my password didn’t work.  I didn’t have a lot of time to do anything, so I figured it was a glitch, and I’d fix it when I got home.  But that didn’t work either, and it was the weekend, which definitely worked in the favor of the evil doers.  After trying many different things, I went to my email program and discovered that my email address on the account had been changed.  So I couldn’t get a reset code to work, as I no longer had access in that manner.  Going to help service online was frustrating, because the hackers had instituted the two-step verification, thwarting my attempts at getting my account back.

Emailing the new owner of the account would be pointless, they weren’t interested in giving it back, so that avenue wasn’t possible.  I did have a Facebook account at one time connected to the IG account, but had long ago discontinued it so they were unable to hack that as well.  As I later learned, I might have been able to regain access if I DID still have the two connected, since the FB account had the 2-step verification active, hence there wasn’t a way for the assholes to gain access to that as well.

Back to the issue at hand.  Going through IG’s medieval, laughing-stock of a help service wasn’t doing me any good.  I went to YouTube and started watching videos of others’ experiences, but after understanding that this type of hack has been going on for many months, and there ARE ways of getting one’s account back, usually they include being able to get Instagram to do basic facial recongition through the use of a video you make and pictures on your account of yourself.  Generally people do have pictures of themselves, and that helps.

In my case I used the account for BDSM purposes mainly and having my face on the account wasn’t a big priority.  So in essence I screwed myself out of getting the account back there too.  I did try to report the account as being fraudulent, in that it was impersonating me, but IG shot that down.  The hacker is using the ‘story’ feature to spam the account (and my followers list) so that none of the ‘new’ posts stay on the account.  They’re covering all the angles, and being very surreptitious in making sure they stay in control of it.  Pissing me off in the process.

I did find a video on YT that said there’s a way of getting the account back, but it’s so involved I’d be hard pressed to be able to do anything about it.  Basically I’d have to turn my life upside down in order to be ready when (or if) Instagram would give me the opportunity to get the account re-registered to me.  I don’t have large chunks of my day to spend waiting for an email or message to show up.  I can’t carry my phone at work, so that negates time that might be THE TIME when IG is allowing me access again.  At this point I’m going to use my pet’s account, message my followers outside of the account itself (through a new account that I created) and ask them to either block the account or stop following as the account IS compromised and apparently will remain so.

It would be nice if a multi-billion dollar company like Meta/Facebook could treat ALL of their customers the same, but that’s never been the case, and it never will be.  They tout how wonderful it is to have free access to social media, but if there’s ever a problem, they tend to wash their hands of it, unless it’s affecting someone that’s contributing a great deal to their bottom line.  Everyone else can pretty much go pound sand.

I’m sorry this happened to me, and to the people that follow me on Instagram.  Just managed to lose a little more of my trust and innocence over the last week.  Whoever you are, hacker;  Fuck you.

 

Love you lots, miss you lots more

My girl and I have been writing to one another for years. Every morning (ok, almost every morning) I write her a note and she responds sometime during the course of the day before my lunchtime at work (or home on my days off). Communication after that is back and forth, on occasion we have phone calls if needed, and on weekends we’ve agreed to have evening phone calls to keep her grounded. Considering we’ve been ‘together’ for a bit over four years but have only been in one another’s company twice for visits, it’s the best we can do for the time being.

As we’ve been writing and corresponding I’ve been increasingly thinking about having a tagline to end my messages with. I’ve never been accused of being pithy, but then again I like to have something to be remembered by and occasionally for. Over the many months and years of writing, increasingly I’ve become fond of the parting statement ‘Love you lots, miss you lots more‘. If for no other reason than, it’s true. I miss her a great deal. In retrospect, it might actually be logically backward but to me, the words flow better when used in that fashion.

An odd saying I suppose, but it works for me. As she’s never mentioned anything about it, I suppose it works for her too. Until I come up with something else, I guess?

Biding our time

Ok, might as well get the gory details out of the way, right?  It’s been over two years since we’ve seen one another in the flesh.  Two damn years.  Twenty-five months now.  Seven hundred and fifty days.  No, I’m not going to do hours, minutes and seconds.  Not only would that be pointless, it would be a wee bit soul-crushing, as if the previous realities weren’t already bad enough.

What do we do in the meantime?  How do we keep the connection fresh, or at the very least less morbid?  Well, I have to tell you, it a’int easy.  Considering with the current situation it very well may be another year before either of us can travel to the other to visit.  Just the way things are now.  I suppose it would be even worse if she or I were in another country, but honestly, six hours distance might as well be six thousand miles at this point.

So again, what do we do with our time, separate though it may be? We keep in touch, just as we have been over the many days, weeks and months since that magical time in Pennsylvania in 2018. We make use of modern communication techniques, as well as old-fashioned ones. Telephone/cellphone calls, video chats (made easier since I purchased an iPad a month or so ago and with the pandemic companies have come through with updated and easier to use video apps like Google Duo) and using the mail to send things back and forth for holidays, birthdays and other memorable occasions. I upgraded her cellphone, giving her my old Galaxy Note 8 after I purchased a (gently) used Galaxy S20 from an app called Swappa.

In the same vein, since the early days of our relationship, we have a ritual, if you will in order to keep in touch. I send her a good morning message on Facebook Messenger, and if she feels so inclined, she’ll respond with a message of her own. In it, I detail how I slept overnight (I use a CPAP and she worries), anything that’s going to be happening with my upcoming day, and any future things that might be occurring to me at the time. When it’s a workday, I am able to communicate to her on my lunch, so we may have anywhere from a few minutes, to ten to fifteen during that time to talk about my day, her day, or whatever might be happening at the time. I get an opportunity to decompress, talk to someone about how my day is going, since my work tends to be a little more stressful at times than hers. (I work in retail, she works in home health care)

Towards evening, we have a phone or video call in the car on the way home. Oftentimes I’ll drive a couple streets over and park in a semi-abandoned parking lot and we’ll have 30-35 minutes to talk, just talk about whatever. My day, her day, current events, plans for the future, dreams or even daydreams. It’s nice to be able to talk, muse or just be together, even though we’re apart. It’s not the best solution, but for the time being it’s just going to have to do.

Gripes my bottom, or MYOFB

Earlier this week, something happened over on Fetlife that still has me mentally fuming a bit. My girl had posted a picture on her profile of some rope bondage she’d done on herself several months ago, and someone local to her had commented on it. Nothing wrong with that, people comment on pictures they find, and this person was complementary on it. What ensued next was the problem, however. This person privately messaged her to indicate that he might be interested in assisting her with some rope tie practice, and she mentioned (as she’s required to) that any sort of contact has to include me, or at the very least make me aware of it, because after all, we have a relationship, she’s my de facto (agreed upon) ‘property’ etc. consequently, she’s not going to keep this information from me.

Now this person decides to go to my profile on the site and check me out. It’s a public profile, has a synopsis of sorts about me, my viewpoints on certain things, sort of an introduction to anyone that wishes to read it. For the most part, people don’t bother to read male profiles, they read the female ones (and ignore them when emailing them, propositioning them, etc). The same thing happens on personal sites the world over. Instagram, Facebook, CollarMe, OkCupid, even ChristianMingle I expect. What happened next is the thing that rubbed me the wrong way.

He messages her back to say that he’s no longer interested in ANY contact that might involve me, because in his words, “she can do better” than me, and he doesn’t like what he reads on my profile. The latter part I could care less about. He doesn’t know me from Adam, what’s written on my profile isn’t a listing or even a detailed synopsis of me, my life, even my outlook on many aspects of the BDSM lifestyle. If anything, part of it is tongue in cheek, the rest of it is a light overview of my girl’s and my journey over the last year or so. Certainly, nothing that someone could make an accurate understanding of who and what someone is about. Yet, here we are. At the end of his message, he has the utmost nerve to suggest they can still ‘be friends’ and ‘meet up’ at some point in time like that’s the most likely thing that will transpire.

My girl had messaged me at lunch to ask my opinion about the conversation she was having with this joker guy. Her main concern was not upsetting him, setting off some sort of negative impact in her local community, with this fellow being the ‘offended party’. At this point, the only ones offended are me, and my girl. He’s not even in the equation. I logged into her account, read the back and forth, and gave her a basic overview of how I wanted her to reply. Something non-threatening, but to the point of, if he’s uninterested in having me in the conversation as being aware of what’s happening between him and her, then I’m very uninterested in him having any contact with her whatsoever. Bottom line: my toy, my rules. Moreover, there’s a protocol that we have in place that’s laid out very distinctly in her profile, which says basically if you want to converse with her beyond a ‘hello’, then you get in contact with me. If one can’t follow a simple courtesy, then we’re not really interested in associating with them. We’re all supposed to be adults here. Might as well act like it as much as we can.

Appropos of nothing, he never responded to her message, so there’s no way of knowing what he’s going to say or do going forward. If it’s something nefarious, then I can play hardball as well. Honestly, this is not what I wanted to be doing coming up to the Christmas holiday. But sometimes it’s something that needs to be dealt with.

Hello, 54.

Another birthday, another year older.

My birthdays anymore are either ones when I work, or I have the day off and I don’t necessarily do much of anything. Certainly nothing like a party here at Casa Leathers, or any sort of organized celebration. Another milestone achieved really. I may get a present, I may not, it depends a lot on whether I mention there’s something I’ve desired, and just haven’t gotten around to purchasing for myself, and the wife gets it for me (except for a motorcycle….not going to get one of those. At least life-sized).

This year, we’ve been needing a new wheelbarrow and we’ve been off and on shopping for it both online and locally. It has needed to have certain aspects to make it good for both of us (not too big, not too small, dual wheels and so on) and not cost $500. Believe it or not, we’ve spent over two weeks looking at prospects and dismissing most of them as either being too expensive, too cheaply made too many bad reviews, or a combination of those. Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon, all have nice offerings, but none have really checked off all the correct aspects.

The wife suggested the local Tractor Supply as an option. I went there after work one day and scoured the store, but didn’t find any! How odd. I left without checking with a salesperson (should have known better) and came home to report my findings. Going to the online store presence, I discovered apparently in their ‘stock’ it was listed they had several. So we decided to go back on the ‘day’ of my birthday, to check it out further, instead of ordering one online and having it shipped specially to the store.

Parking outside, we headed towards the door, but my wife stopped us to look at something on the wall, and sure enough, there was the beastie that had eluded me so successfully yet days before. But it was HUUUUGE! Way too big for our purposes. Heading inside, I made my way to the Customer Service counter and spoke to the employee there, informing her that we were in the market, but the one she had outside was too big, and did they having anything similar, but slightly smaller? Looking through her computer terminal, she determined that indeed she did, and someone was in the back assembling them.

Horrors! An assembled ‘barrow won’t fit in the new Murano. Would be way too big. Is it possible to get one unassembled? Sure enough, it was. Although admittedly it surprised her that I asked, most of her customers wanted theirs in one piece, not forty. Up stepped the wife (once I corralled her from the far side of the store) and paid for my present. Transported it out to the vehicle, loaded it up and headed for the ice cream stand/greenhouse to celebrate our victory!

I managed a birthday present and ice cream on the same day! I’d say that was a pretty good score. And I had a project to complete when I got home. Which I did. The wheelbarrow is all together, and sitting in the backyard now…with no pieces missing!

I done good. Happy 54th, Leathers.