My name is XYZ, and this is my story.
A year ago, I got a job offer from a first-class fashion firm. This required me to move from my small home in the suburbs to the middle of a booming metropolis. The transition was not an easy one to make, but when I checked out my new apartment, I got quite excited. It would be the start of my very own adventure! My folks had been incredibly supportive, helping me out with the move and everything. They even gifted me a new laptop because I had graduated with honors in graphic designing. I was thrilled, because most of my work was obviously digital in nature, and my old laptop had been coughing up glitches. A new laptop meant I could install heavy-duty software, step up my game, and work up to my full potential.
The Trojan Release
I was preparing for my first day at the new job by tweaking my portfolio here and there when I clicked on a Radiohead song. My screen went blank for a millisecond, before adjusting back to normal. I shrugged it off and continued with my work.
It was a dark night, and the rain was tapping gently against the bedroom window. When the clock struck 3:30, I decided to get some sleep. When I woke up in the morning, my eyes went directly to my laptop screen, which was shining brightly, despite the fact that I distinctly remembered shutting it down. I went over to inspect it, and everything seemed to be quite normal. Perhaps, in my sleepy stupor, I had thought I’d shut the laptop off. Either way, I had to get ready for my first day.
The Shocking Reveal
Time went by in a flash, and work engulfed my attention to such an extent that I didn’t notice an eerie email sitting in my spam folder. When it caught my eye, I opened it out of curiosity. The sender’s address was encrypted, and the message contained a sole link with my name in it. Seeing my name, I got intrigued and opened it. What it directed to left me completely shocked, and a silent scream escaped my open mouth.
The page was filled with videos on the margins. In the middle of the page was a live feed of me gaping at the laptop screen at that exact moment! The videos showed everything I had been doing in my bedroom over the past few days. Not only that – the camera feed from my home security system had been compromised and put online as well, exposing my home to the online world. As I was tremblingly going over the videos, the link copied and sent itself to everyone in my contact list. I felt so helpless when I couldn’t even control my own laptop! I could do nothing but close it, and put it away for good.
The Terrifying Intrusion
The next few days were full of trauma, worsened by the incessant amount of calls I was getting. I distanced myself from everything technological, fearing it might be hacked too. On top of that, I received a letter from the firm, telling me that I’d been fired. Staying mostly in my room, I let the days go by.
Until one late night, I heard the automated locks of my front door turning on their own. I listened closely for the motion detector sirens, but they never went off. But there were certainly footsteps in the living room, coming my way. Someone was in my apartment! But no one, not even my folks, knew the passwords. Terrified, I sat frozen in my bed. But then, miraculously, my neighbor Peter knocked on the door. He might have wanted to inquire about the WiFi signals again. The footsteps in the living room stopped dead. There was a pin-drop silence. Getting no reply, Peter went away, saying through the door that he’d come back in a few minutes. Hearing this, the intruder must have sensed panic. I heard the footsteps going away, out of the front door. I took a huge sigh of relief.
The “Ratter” Phenomenon and How to Evade It
I called Peter over to explain what happened. He told me of the “ratter” phenomenon, which was prominent a few years back. Basically, hackers sell hacking technology online to anyone who’s interested. One such tool is the RAT (Remote Access Trojan/Remote Administration Tools). This piece of technology travels through malware, hiding as a code in images, text, and even music videos (that Radiohead song!) which, once clicked, leaks the code in the host computer. Whoever operates the RAT can control the host’s laptop and watch closely through the webcam, seeing everything from daily functions to passwords. This is how I had been targeted by a “ratter.” Whoever it was didn’t come back, but I got a series of valuable life lessons from this experience.
1. Never open random links without verifying them.
2. Always cover up the webcam.
3. Upgrade my home security to the most advanced system on the market, such as the one offered by Vivint. Vivint alarm pricing is incredibly affordable, thankfully.
So before the “ratter” phenomenon strikes you, carefully avoid it by going for the countermeasures I learned the hard way.