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How to deal with a persistent hacker

By mr.blacksociety ·
EDIT: Thanks for the suggestions. I'll just reformat my computer and use preventive measures against further hacking. I understand there are some who think I should take legal action but in our country, something like that requires money and tedious process. Besides, I am outnumbered by the attackers (yes, the truth is, they're a group). If I told the school administrators, the hackers can easily conspire to hide the truth. More importantly, I have no recorded proof against them. It would be a greater loss if I fight back legally.


I need help in removing malware/virus in my computer. I don't know what kind of malware it is but I have noticed some symptoms that indicate my PC has been hacked. Aside from that, I'm pretty sure I've been hacked because the hacker himself has admitted that he has been monitoring my computer activity. I don't know if he's stopped already but I wanna check my computer before I decide to reformat it as a last resort.

I've read overviews of different hacking techniques and have tried countering them in various ways (done with the basic firewall, antivirus and antispyware). I already tried intrusion prevention/detection systems (like Snort), I've installed toolbars to hep me determine phishing sites, I've installed different virus/malware removal tools; but I still can't find the assurance that I am secured from the hacker. There are many ways to hack a computer and I don't really know what method he's using.

From the information he's disclosed, it seems like he's using a keylogger, and that he's phishing sites, or perhaps even manipulating my browser. Oh, and how is it possible for him to hear me singing on the headset? Is it possible to manipulate the hardware remotely? By the way, as far as I'm aware, he hasn't been to our house ever. So he's basically remotely monitoring me. Is it also possible for him to trace which PC I'm using as long as I've logged in one of my accounts (like email or facebook) in that particular computer? Because even when I'm using the PC at school, he was able to monitor me still.

I need answers to my questions so I can finally get rid of fear and confusion, and tackle this problem in a more direct manner. I appreciate any help.

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Here's the situation...

by mr.blacksociety In reply to do your best

The hacker is not just one person, as I have confessed in my other post. They're a group of computer science students. Their "leader" was probably provoked by something I said (though I'm not sure what exactly). The others just got dragged into it, so it seems.

The people I'm up against with here have probably thought about the probable defenses I'm gonna make, including legal action. And as it seems (though I'm not exactly sure) that they have made the same move ahead of me and reversed the situation in the eyes of some of our professors. Like I said, I'm not sure of anything but I overheard the "group" and one of our professors talk about the hacking issue. I'm not sure what the professor thought about their story (whether he bought it or not) but he seems neutral. The problem is, they won't stop until they make sure I won't hack them as well. It's all so ridiculous. I seriously think the whole thing is pointless, I'm not even interested in their personal affairs. And I'm not that cheap to actually think about hacking their bank accounts. I just want them to stop tracking me.

Even when I never talked about the issue with my peers, I can sense that I'm losing their trust. I don't know what on earth those hackers have told them. I can sense though that even the people whom I thought were friends have been tracking me as well (out of curiosity I presume). The thing is, people can have a thousand interpretations about what you do or say online. They can invent stories as to why you do this or why you do that, thinking you might have ill intentions. And the truth is, if I were in their shoes now, I know I would probably think the same way.

It's a long story. It's been going on for at least 3 months now. One careless remark can ripple and make branches of misunderstanding.

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How is your computer going to be secure when it's 'clean'?

by Ron K. In reply to answers and a question

Here's a good article for starters: http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-5885513.html?tag=content%3bleftCol <br>
I recommend Online Armor's firewall, AVG's anti-virus and Malwarebytes anti-malware. Decent routers don't cost very much. They aren't difficult to use either.<br>
Put complex passwords on everything. We have 30 character passwords on our stuff. <br>
How is someone going to put hardware in your computer? They going to squeeze it through the Internet's tubes? <br>
A good practice, once your security is in place on a fresh, clean system, is to create a backup image. We use Acronis True Image Home PC Backup and Recovery. Easy to use. Make a backup image and you can reload it within a matter of a few minutes if your working image is compromised and you can't fix it. All of the security in the world is only as good as your last clean backup image. We backup weekly.<br>
We also use McAfee Site Advisor on Firefox and IE. It's not foolproof but you have some indication that the site may or may not be 'safe'. <br>
Either you're putting me on or you're a wimp. I've never given any one the control over my life like you're giving that dood. Never. Have I ever been a snitch? Oh **** yeah; only to keep me from 'talking' to someone with Mr. Baseball bat in hand. Mess with me and you're messing with the wrong ************. I take it personally. Put up with it once and you'll put up with people hosing you over your entire life.

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Not sure what to think about this one

by C F USA In reply to answers and a question

**QUOTE**
He even quoted some of the conversations I've had with a friend online, and on the phone. I even played along with him, thinking he was only trying to get attention. But it just got to the point where I feel like he's humiliating me already.
**ENDQUOTE**

Ok what you are describing here is something else entirely. Listening to your phone calls? or is it that your phone is near your PC. Either way, something does not sound right about your answers and not wanting to persue this any further.

I for one, and this is just my opinion alone, and I do not speak for the other members of TR, feel that you are

a: trolling,
b: have no understanding of what is happening to you and are afraid to take the proper actions
c: not being totally honest with us
d: perhaps you need to see a doctor (Beautiful mind)

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i think it's b. please diagnose these malware symptoms...

by mr.blacksociety In reply to Not sure what to think ab ...

PROBLEMS: (Persistent problems after troubleshoot are listed at the bottom of this post)

1. Everytime I log in to my email account, the settings are already changed (Instead of Yahoo classic, it runs on All New Yahoo; Password invalid on mail but valid on Y!Msgr).

2. When I tried submitting a report to Yahoo, Firefox hangs and forces me to restart session.

3. Everytime I visit legit antivirus/antimalware sites, Firefox hangs.

4. Everytime I turn the computer on, it hangs and I have to reboot it each time.

5. Can't install two-way firewall (see details below).

6. Privacy tool and antikeylogger tool have mysteriously disappeared on my Programs list (see details on Extra Privacy tools below).

7. Aside from the malware symptoms, the most disturbing part of the problem is the harassment I'm getting from the attackers in real life.


I tried the following ANTIMALWARE TOOLS:

1. MalwareBytes Antimalware -- no threats detected

2. SuperAntispyware -- 56 infections -- already removed

3. Spybot Search and Destroy -- 3 or 6 persistent tracking cookies -- removed

4. Advanced SystemCare -- still using, reports a number of infections occasionally, removed each time but doesn't seem to solve the problem(s)

5. IOBitSecurity -- still using, reports a number of infections occasionally, removed each time but doesn't seem to solve the problem(s)

I uninstalled the first three and kept the last two because they were the most convenient to use and if I kept too many malware tools, my computer runs extremely slow.

I have also tried using the ff. INTRUSION DETECTION/PREVENTION SYSTEMS:

1. With SNORT, I couldn't interpret the results displayed.
2. With SAX2, I have to manually find solutions to any detected intrusions, which was kind of tedious and a little confusing since I'm not that savvy in terms of computer security.

Both were uninstalled because of user inconvenience and it interfered with computer speed.

ROOTKIT REMOVAL TOOLS that I used:

1. Blacklight Rootkit Eliminator. Nothing was found.
2. RootkitRevealer. It only revealed suspicious activity on certain files and registry entries but I don't know how to remove the ones I suspect the most (based on the time stamp and the nature of the file).

First one is now uninstalled.

ANTIVIRUS:

Avast! - When I ran it on safe mode, the virus chest only reported a scanning error (fishy?). On normal mode, it says 0 infected files.

FIREWALL: Windows Firewall -- I can't install a new one because everytime I do, the computer won't start properly. I already tried turning the Windows one off and installing the new firewall, computer still doesn't start properly. I only get a black screen. I wait for like, 15 mins, the screen's still blank.

ANTIPHISHING tool: Netcraft toolbar

ANTIKEYLOGGER tool: Snoopfree --This has mysteriously disappeared on my computer. Without a trace.

EXTRA PRIVACY tools:

1. IPshield -- This has mysteriously disappeared on my computer. Without a trace.
2. Tightened settings on firewall and browser


PERSISTENT PROBLEMS:

1. Everytime I log in to my email account, the settings are already changed.

3. Everytime I turn the computer on, it hangs and I have to reboot it each time.

7. Aside from the malware symptoms, the most disturbing part of the problem is the harassment I'm getting from the attackers in real life.


Please help. Thanks.

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The solution is the same, no matter what the cause.

by JamesRL In reply to i think it's b. please di ...

Boot into safe mode and take off any files (Word/pictures etc) and put them onto a flash drive. Do not log onto the internet while doing this.

Go to an internet cafe and logon to all your external sites like Yahoo, and change all your passwords. Make sure you use strong passwords, with mixed case, numbers and special charecters. While you are there, see if you can dl some firewall/antivirus tools onto CD.

Format your HD, preferrably with a HD shredding tool.

Reinstall your OS. Before you logon to your ISP, call them, explain the situation, and have them change your password. Install the anti virus/rootkit/firewalls.

Only then, logon to the net and update your OS with all the latest patches. And even then, if you can download them onto CD somewhere else and install them before you log onto the internet , that would be preferrable.

In the end, whether you are being hacked or not, your computer is beyond a reasonable effort to restore. You will save time and energy by wiping it and starting clean.

James

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Question just to confirm...I have to be absolutely sure

by mr.blacksociety In reply to The solution is the same, ...

Can a malware stick itself to a file even when you run the computer on safe mode? I need to make sure that if I back up my files, infected ones won't be kept.

The main problem is, my flash drive can only carry 1G. I'm sooo broke I can't even buy a new FD or a CD. I also don't have the complete tools to reformat my computer. If I asked my mom to lend me money, she'd only scold me for being paranoid. If I asked anyone to help me, they'd only think I'm a pain and simply paranoid like you guys think I am. Sorry for insisting on troubleshooting. I just have no other choice at the moment.

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Don't get me wrong, a bit of paranoia is a good thing.

by Ron K. In reply to Question just to confirm. ...

This isn't a rosy world where everything is good and pure. Don't be hard on yourself. <br>
What you have here is a lesson. What you make of it is up to you. Learn how to prevent this from ever happening again. <br>
You have some 'security' software that I've never heard of, not that I've heard of everything. My point is that some 'security' software actually installs trojans and malware on your computer. Just because some yayhoo, like me, may recommend something doesn't mean that it's trustworthy. Research it before putting it on your computer and after you do put it on, learn how to use it.<br>
The software and article I've recommended is good stuff though. :^0 Use Google to see for yourself. <br>
When you decide on new passwords, use this site to see if they're any good. You want a green bar all of the way across.<br> https://www.microsoft.com/protect/fraud/passwords/checker.aspx?WT.mc_id=Site_Link <br>
You might despair that having to remember a long-*** password will be a pain. I use OpenOffice.org's Writer (free to you) to type it in and save it under an obscure filename on my HD. That way, when I need my passwords it's a simple matter to open the document so that I can copy and paste it into the password field. No one else, besides my immediate family, has access to this computer and they know better than to touch it without my permission. I'll grumble at them if they do. <br>
Whatever you do, don't lose your passwords. Got it? Good. No sticky notes either. Put 'em in a locked box or something.<br>
If you have picture files and <b>documents</b>, to my knowledge, they're unlikely to have malware attached to them. It's unidentifiable executable files, ending in .exe,.com,.bat .msi, that you shouldn't save. <br>
You haven't said how large your hard drive is. If it's big enough, I believe that you can use a free partitioning tool to create a partition in the unused protion of it and store your <b>data</b> files there. Just make sure you don't reinstall Windows to that partition or your data will probably be irretrievable. <br>
You can start a new question on how to partition your HD with free software as I've only ever used PartitionMagic, Symantec's commercial software. There are likely to be articles and discussions here at TR about partitioning tools but I'll let you do the search because I'm lazy. <br>
Keep your head up. <b>No one</b> started off with computers knowing everything. By the time you get back up and running securely you'll know more than some will ever know. Remember, you haven't done anything wrong. B-)

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There is always an exception but...

by JamesRL In reply to Question just to confirm. ...

Generally non-executables are safe (executables like .exe, .com, .bat etc)
There have been some virsuses that attack excel macros, but that was years ago. You can scan any files you back up on another computer, before loading them back.

Maybe someone can lend you an external HD or a flash drive.

Safemode can reduce the likelyhood of active viruses but not eliminate them.

James

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One last reply to the helpers...

by mr.blacksociety In reply to Question just to confirm. ...

The surest solution that was pretty clear to me from the beginning was to start everything anew and use preventive measures against further hacking; but my present circumstances kind of paralyze me at the moment. Almost everyone in my family and most of my friends are unwilling to lend me help, saying things like "What are you doing that for anyway?" When I try to explain, they only laugh and tell me I'm just paranoid and that I'm only wasting my/their time. They never considered the risks I'm taking if I ignored all the signs of intrusion. Isn't it wise to cover for worst-case scenarios on both ends and at the same time avoid problems to arise further in the future? I have deferred my judgment enough as far as I'm concerned. I gave the whole situation the benefit of the doubt. Like you, I thought it was very unlikely for these things to be real. After all, I know I didn't intentionally offend anyone, so what motive could these people have to hack me in the first place? Like I mentioned in my other post, I spent more time trying to make sense of the situation instead of actually doing something about it. But I think I've done enough observation already to confirm that I've truly been hacked/monitored. The method they're using is the only thing that's undetermined. Oh, and yeah, their motive.

@Ron.k: Thanks for your tips. But I think that my passwords are/were generally strong because they're usually 11+ characters long (my longest password is 16 characters long); and not found in the dictionary (I include(d) a mix of capital and baby letters, and numeric characters as well).

I research about a software before I decide to download it; but then again, maybe even the results on google (and other commonly-used search engines) have been manipulated by the hackers too. Considering these guys are on their junior year already (BS CompSci), I presume they're savvy enough to use different hacking techniques.

Anyway, I'll probably experiment on the partition thing you mentioned. :)

Thanks again to everyone who contributed answers and tips.

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Internet Cafe etc...

by Jon In reply to The solution is the same, ...

If someone really is following him around and watching his every move because they are playing a twisted game with his life I don't think the internet cafe would be a good idea. Just an example would be whether wireless, or wired access a person from this "group" of "crackers" is following him around, he logs into a system at the local internet cafe etc. and since most of the sites he will be changing his passwords on will run without any form of encryption a simple listen with a system on the same switch/segment running a sniffer and the changing of the passwords would be pointless. He's better off using a computer at a friend or relatives house without wireless access to be seperated from a more diverse public connection.

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