(Vegans and Vegetarians might prefer to substitute the word "ENHANCE" for the words "BEEF UP")

by Al Swilling
SENAA International
11 February 2015

When SENAA International first became involved in support of Dineh at Black Mesa, Arizona, who were being forced off their land by the BIA and Peabody Coal, and SENAA headed up a series of protests both here and abroad to protest the forced removal, I was put under surveillance by the initial agencies (FBI, BIA, CIA, etc., etc., etc.), including having my phone tapped, e-mails intercepted, and as many as 300 hack attempts per day on SENAA's computer. During that time, I learned a lot about security, encryption, etc. It became a daily battle to keep the covert agents from getting into my machine; not just to spy on SENAA's activities, but to keep them from nuking my machine with worms, viruses, Trojans, keyloggers, etc. Out of almost 100,000 hack attempts, at least 99,000 were at the federal government's hands. They tried to mask the fact that it was them, but programs like TraceRoute, VisualRoute, and firewalls like Lockdown 2000 and others tracked their attempts back to their source--right to their own firewall.

Now there is an equally determined group that has suddenly and mysteriously appeared on the scene, and I'm not sure what to make of it. Out of all the hack attempts I have received in the past, none of them have been from the sources that have popped up in the past two days. The attempted hacks come three and four at a time, followed by a brief pause and then another onslaught of attacks. It's keeping my security measures very busy. I have to wonder if it's just me they're targeting or if our illustrious national leader's actions of the past have caused this sudden wave of attacks against Americans in general.

In the past 5 hours, I have received 42 hack attempts on my machine--all stopped and reported by my security measures. Out of the 42 hack attempts, here is how it breaks down:

32 from China
1 from Williamsville, NY
1 from France via Strasbourg
1 from San Diego, CA, USA
1 from Matawan, NJ, USA
2 from Seoul, Republic of Korea (South Korea)
1 from Muenchen, Germany
1 from Fremont, CA
1 from Riga, Latvia
1 from Istanbul, Turkey

As you see, the vast majority, and the ones that are coming rapid-fire, in clusters, are those from China. There seem to be three ISPs involved: Chinanet, China Unicom, and China Telecom. Two are situated in Hunan Province, and one in Beijing, with a couple of attempts that seemed to originate from Hong Kong and Taiwan. When the route was traced, they revealed that the signals had bounced around across several servers before reaching my computer.

It appears that either China is launching hack attempts against American computers, or American No Such Agencies are using Chinese servers and/or ISPs to try to mask the fact that it's really them trying to covertly hack American citizens' computers.

The most disturbing thing about the hack attempts is that if I had not had a firewall that detected and blocked the hack attempts and alerted me, I would have had no idea whatsoever that I was being hacked. The firewall warning was my only clue.

For those who value their personal information and privacy, I strongly recommend that you get a good firewall and a good antivirus with a high detection rating.

The best firewall, according to PC Magazine's and my own tests is ZoneAlarm. The newest free version is excellent and almost impervious to malware attempts to disable it. It detects and blocks every attempt to gain unauthorized computer access from outside the home network, and blocks all software on the computer from sending out information without the user's knowledge and consent. Furthermore, ZoneAlarm is fully customizable to suit the desires and needs of the user.

As for antivirus programs, I have become disillusioned by AVG. A once excellent, lean, unobtrusive antivirus program, both in the free and the paid versions, it is now something of an albatross; and it does not play nice with ZoneAlarm firewall. (I suppose I would design my antivirus software to not run well with another firewall, too, if I was pushing a security suite that contained a firewall of my own design.) Also, AVG's detection rate is not as impressive as some of the other free antivirus software that is being offered. One antivirus that does play very nicely with ZoneAlarm firewall is Panda Antivirus. Panda also has a higher virus, Trojan, Worm, and malware detection rate than AVG. Panda is better even than the old standard pay per year services McAfee and Norton (Semantic). Also Panda does not bog down the computer's speed to any detectable degree.

There are two drawbacks to using Panda Antivirus, though. Panda is a cloud based program; so if you go offline, your protection is lost. Also, Panda has a nasty feature called "USB vaccine". Fortunately it is an opt in, opt out feature. You can choose not to use it, which I recommend. Once you do use it, Panda offers no means of removing it other than to format the USB drive.

It can be removed form fat32 flash drives fairly easily with the aid of a hex editor, but it cannot be removed from NTFS systems without a lot of headaches, a hex editor that will read and edit restricted access files, and other tools that I won't go into here. On NTFS systems, Panda installs its own autorun.inf file that is invisible, even if your settings allow you to view hidden files. Panda does this by breaking a couple of rules of ethical computer programming. Suffice it to say that if you allow Panda to "vaccinate" your computer or your USB drives, you will have to suffer some aggravating, performance degrading side effects.

For example, I was unable to install a perfectly safe software program because of Panda, and Panda gave no error messages or warnings. It just bogged down the computer and would not allow any functions to be performed at all until it crashed--every time I tried to install the software. It would not even allow me to shut down the computer properly. I had to use the power switch instead of closing the operating system properly. Temporarily shutting down Panda did not help. I discovered that even when it's supposed to be shut down, it is still running on some level. I finally had to uninstall Panda altogether in order to install any software at all.

Because of its malicious behavior and the developer's refusal to cooperate with users by providing solutions to problems that the software creates, I consider Panda Antivirus itself to be a virus of sorts; because once it does its damage, there is no undoing it for the average user other than to format the drive and do a clean installation of the operating system, potentially losing data, and certainly losing the time it takes to try to back up data and files and completely reinstall the operating system--and Panda refuses to help by neither telling users how to undo the damage nor by providing a tool of their design to undo the damage that their antivirus program has done.

One other antivirus programs that is incompatible with ZoneAlarm is BitDefender. It also modifies the operating system and external storage in ways that can cause problems. I couldn't get it to install because of ZoneAlarm, so I was unable to test it. My knowledge about its causing problems comes from PC Magazine and other sources that have tested BitDefender.

Meanwhile, I contacted AVG, and their new update allowed AVG and ZoneAlarm to once again co-exist and resume a somewhat symbiotic relationship. I'm not saying that I had anything to do with their update, but the problem was resolved after I contacted them. Luck or influence, it's good to have an antivirus that is not cloud based and that does not intentionally wreck my operating system or external storage devices--and that works with my firewall to keep the bats out of the belfry, so to speak.


Reprinted as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law.