Archive for May, 2008

Victim of a hacking: One man’s experiences.

Been a while, I know, but I simply haven’t had anything terribly interesting to write about. But this weekend, Jeff Deonarine came through my particular section of Fort Worth, and we spend last night and all day today hanging out. We saw Prince Caspian, which I thought was a rather excellent film. Not having read the book in some time, I can’t say how it compares. I really do need to acquire a complete set of the Chronicles of Narnia, I suppose.

Jeff’s got himself a shiny motorcycle now, and he’s road tripping all the way to Pennsylvania. He’s already been through Waco though, so if ya didn’t see him, sorry, but it looks like you missed him.

Something else big happened this weekend to me, though. Something that any active WoW player fears happening. Most take a lot of precaution against it, but sometimes even all the precaution in the world isn’t enough.

This weekend, my WoW account was hacked. Or to put it in non-game terms, someone acquired the password to my World of Warcraft account, logged in, and sold everything I had and took my gold and sent it to characters unknown.

There are companies out there whose entire business model is to do things in the game to earn gold and then take that gold and sell it to players for real-world cash. They do this across numerous MMO games, such as World of Warcraft, Everquest, Ultima Online, and many many others.

However, recently there has been a rash of unscrupulous companies who employ methodologies to acquire other players passwords and steal their gold to resell to others. They do this in any number of ways

1. Certain sites have scripts in them which less-secure browsers (read: Internet Explorer and an improperly protected Firefox, among others) simply allow them to run without user consent. These scripts can install trojans and keyloggers onto your system without you knowing. It’s most often seen in ads. Many sites which claim to sell gold are really fronts to get these scripts installed on your system, at which point they can wait to log your password, dig it out from the logs, and steal everything you’ve worked hard to get.

2. Certain mod sites can hide executable files in mod packages which install keyloggers as well.

3. World of Warcraft does not have a set limit on the number of failed passwords it will accept before it stops allowing you to log in. So someone could run an automated program which attempts to “brute force” hack your account by trying every possible password combination. This is obviously incredibly tedious and rarely produces good results, but it can work.

So Saturday night, I attempt to log in to the game. I am greeted with the screen of my characters, and my Tauren Druid is naked. Not having logged him out that way, I panic and log in, to find myself without gear, and anything that could be sold was gone. I am soon kicked back off by the hacker logging back in as me to finish his work. I soon find that my password has been changed and I cannot get back in.

Quickly, I jump over to Worldofwarcraft.com, and request a password reset. Luckily, I have a security question set up. I get my new password (a long random gibberish string) and log back in to the game. The hacker no longer has a usable password, and cannot acquire the rest of my things.

The damage, however, was done. Grothi and Nihl were completely cleaned out. No armor, no items, and no gold to speak of, aside from those few that do not sell in the game. Dahkar, however, I managed to save for the most part. His armor was completely intact, but most of his other items had been sold or disenchanted for the enchanting materials. Those enchanting materials were also present, I managed to get my account back before he could sell those as well, or send them off to some other character.

Obviously, I am devastated (and incredibly furious). I immediately update every virus scanner, spyware scanner, and other cleaning implement I have installed, and run all of them. I found a spyware item that looked suspicious, but could not determine if it was a keylogger or something else. Either way, it’s dead and gone now.

Luckily, if it WAS a keylogger (and not a simple brute force attack), the person either did not care about or somehow failed to acquire my bank account number and password. I changed them both to be on the safe side.

My Firefox browser is now running the “Noscript” addon, which blocks ANY form of scripting from occuring in my browser without my direct authorization. I highly encourage anyone running Firefox to install this addon immediately. It could save your bacon. Click the link below to get it
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/722

I have, up until this point, referred to the perpetrator of this incident, and those like him as simply “person” and at worst as “unscrupulous”. That is simply my being extraordinarily full of restraint.

That ceases now.

The person or persons responsible for this reprehensible act are some of the lowest filth on the planet. This act is no less a declaration that their greed is more important to them than the very people they need as their customer base, and unfortunately they have a huge number of the player base fooled into still buying into their services. Frankly, I hope Blizzard does everything they can to make your industry no longer profitable, at least as far as WoW is concerned, and I hope you have to find some true honest work, or starve. I frankly do not care which.

I sincerely hope I never meet anyone who regularly commits such a disgusting act, for their sakes. Despicable failures of human beings, the lot of them.

Well, luckily, Blizzard has been extremely good to me. I reported the incident to one of the in-game support personnel, who quickly escalated the issue. By 3 am that morning, they had recreated or returned all of the items I had lost and sent them back to me. Within the next two days, I received back all of the gold that was stolen from me. My guildmates were extremely nice and offered a large amount of support to help me get back on my feet, or hooves, in one case. Luckily it turned out to not be necessary.

So, to the Blizzard team who responds to these cases, and gets the players back in the game, I thank you. Your customer support in this was excellent.

To all my guildmates, thank you for your well-wishes and offers. It’s times like these that show why I love my guild, and the people within it.

To the person(s) who believe that they have more right to what I have in World of Warcraft, what I have worked hard to acquire, than I do: I do hope you someday realize that what you have done and continue, I’m sure, to do is utterly reprehensible, and that you’re disgusted at yourself for ever having taken part in it.

For everyone else: Please take precautions to prevent these assholes from getting to you like they did to me. Stop using Internet Explorer. Get Firefox, and install the Noscript addon. Run spyware cleaners (I recommend Spybot Search and Destroy as well as Ad-Aware), virus scanners (AVG Antivirus is what I use) , and a good all in one cleaning program like CCleaner on a weekly basis. Keep a firewall program active (ZoneAlarm, COMODO, something) at all times. Secure your wireless internet, if you have it. Change your passwords on a regular basis. Be smart about your web surfing. This place is dangerous if you go to the wrong spots, and even worse if you’re not protected.

Good night folks, and Happy Memorial Day.

Back in Blue!

I’m not sure why, but I’m rather happy that my Saitek Eclipse II keyboard is working again. It previously had issues with sticking keys. Well today, I finally got it out, pried off several of the keys, and sprayed compressed air all through it.

I’d be embarrassed to tell you how much dust, hair, and even food pieces came out of that thing, really. I’m quite ashamed. But I got it all out (I hope), put it back together, and plugged it in, and it’s working just fine. Have to get re-used to how quiet this thing is, but at least I have the Blue LED backlight again. Man this thing is pretty looking.

I was actually thinking about getting a Logitech G15, but I think I’ll stick with this for now. It may not have the extra buttons the G15 does, but it looks hella awesome. Plus I’m not sure the G15 would fit where I need it anyway.

You know, I’m quite literally in the best guild in the world. I mean, how many people can say they spent their Saturday evening doing a Karazhan raid with Veronica Belmont herself? Or hung out chatting earlier in the day with Curt Schilling, his son, Randy Jordan of the Instance podcast, his wife, and a gentleman serving in the US Air Force? I can. And that’s just people you might recognize. This guild is full of really awesome people, and it’s been a lot of fun getting to know them and meeting various folks from around the country of different backgrounds.

Houston Vacation!

Hey gang.

I’m back from my little trip up to Houston. Had a ball. I miss the Butlers so much. In fact I’m missing em right now.

We drove out to Holland’s family’s farm house, where we brainstormed and got some ideas for our next worship project, shot a bunch of David’s WW2 replica guns (I think one of them might be authentic? I dunno, correct me if I’m wrong here, D.), and took some cool band style photos! Can’t go wrong with that.

Anyway, after we got back Saturday night, we went to church the next morning, saw Iron Man (2nd time for me) and then began recording the stuff we’d put together on Friday and Saturday, mostly just to send to Peugh so he can brainstorm off of it. And no, you can’t hear it, so don’t ask :-P. Oh yeah, and we watched School of Rock after that. Which, by the way, is an excellent movie, and you should see it at first opportunity.

I headed back early this morning, played a bit of WoW, that sort of thing. But then I got one of the more infuriating experiences I’ve had to deal with in the game. More on that later.

For now, some PHOTOS!


Oh, and we also have a couple of Videos for your watching enjoyment! Don’t worry, they’re blanks.

This first one is an epic gun battle of Truett versus me and David. Early on, I dive down to get some cover, and off camera, get shot. Afterwards though, well…just watch.

Next up, I ambush Holland and Dave! Excitement! Thrills! Gunshots!

I just want to say thanks to Holland and Dave for putting me and Truett up for the weekend. Love you both, and I can’t wait to see ya again!

Okay, so, I log in to my WoW characters, just to see if I got any mail, anything like that, and to say hi to everyone in the guild. While I’m playing my mage, however, I get a message in game from one of the Game Masters, Blizzard employees who monitor the game from within and help solve problems people have. The message is telling me that one of my characters has violated the “naming restrictions”.

To let you know, my three level 70 characters, and the ones I play the most, are as follows:
Dahkar – Level 70 Troll Mage
Oldmanfranks – Level 70 Tauren Druid
Nihl – Level 70 Blood Elf Warlock

Oldmanfranks USED to have a different name. Before I moved servers, his name was Grothi. I changed it to Oldmanfranks when I moved to my new guild so that people would recognize me as the guy who does the Old Man Franks segments on Extralife Radio and occasionally the Instance.
Blizzard’s naming rules are usually pretty lax, just don’t name anything a swear word, or some other offensive term is about it. However, the server I’m on is an “RP server. RP is short for Role-Playing. It’s a server for people who want to basically “act” like their character would act if he were real. However, most people completely ignore this and just play the game like they would play any other, and don’t “act” in it.

RP Servers, however, have more stringent character naming standards. You have to name your character something that “fits” in the world. So something like “Pwnsauce” or “Technotron” or anything like that would probably not work.

I guess some idiot decided that Oldmanfranks wasn’t “RP”- enough, because they reported me to the game masters, and now I’ve got to rename Oldmanfranks to something else. I considered renaming him something like “Oldmanfrankz” just to piss the RP weenie that reported me off, but in the end, I just went back to his original name, Grothi.

What pisses me off is that Role-playing is not enforced on the server, so why in God’s name do they have to have the Double-standard of enforcing naming conventions if they aren’t going to actually enforce role-playing? It makes ZERO sense to have one without the other, and that, more than anything, is what irritates me about this.

And what’s really stupid is that the next thing I did after changing my Druid’s name was to make a new character with the name Oldmanfranks. Again, what’s the point, Blizzard? What is the freaking point? I liked that name, and because some weirdo RP kid got all upset that my name isn’t “a real name you’d see if Azeroth was real”, I have to deal with the consequences? That’s about as epic a fail as I’ve seen.

Ah well…I’ll catch ya’ll later.

I am Titanium Alloy Man! Hrmm….just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Hey again gang. Late update, I know, but there’s a lot that’s been goin’ on.

First of all, from this past weekend, I had an absolute blast in Waco, as usual. I saw Iron Man (more on that later), played a rousing good session of D&D (and got myself two extra players in the process!), got new Star Wars comics (and the first two Outsiders TPBs which are awesome), set a new record on Justin’s copy of New Super Mario Bros (specifically the “Wanted” minigame, 116 in a row, baby!), and in general had an awesome time hanging out with everyone.

I did start getting a little sick before I left, but it left me before I got home. Managed to keep my lunch down the whole drive, heh heh.

Okay, so, Iron Man. I saw it on Saturday with Chris and Justin. Holy crap was it awesome. It is becoming very evident that comic book movie caliber has gone WAY the heck up. Robert Downey Jr was, as I predicted, the PERFECT choice to play Tony Stark. He’s got the look, the attitude, the charisma, and the mannerisms that make it work. With some characters, the actors chosen to play them feels more like “Wow this person does a pretty good interpretation of so-and-so.” Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in the X-men films is kind of like that. He’s good in the role, but it doesn’t quite look natural. Downey is the opposite. He’s a natural Stark. You really get the sensation that he IS the man come to life, and you’re watching a documentary about him or something.

The Iron Man armor special effects were absolutely amazing, very well done. Stayed very close to the classic look, while adding in some new things that we hadn’t seen before, like the flare launchers, or the repulsor rays as flight stabilizers. You get several scenes of him testing out various aspects of the armor, such as the rocket boots, or the repulsor rays as weapons, all of which are very cool to see. Probably one of my favorite scenes in the film is his first actual mission in the armor, where he flies to Afghanistan and defeats a terrorist camp that was stockpiling his own company’s weapons. Really shows off what all the armor can do, and at the same time, really gives you the sense of “this is the modern day, and Iron Man is in our world”.
Another example of this is early on in the film, where they do kind of a montage shot with Tony Stark appearing on several magazine covers. Jon Favreau (the film director) made a point of not just using the magazines everyone knows, like “Time”, he made a point of using less popular, but no less good ones like “Wired” or “Popular Mechanics”. Little details like this really cement the feeling that this could very well be reality.

My only real complaint about the movie is that it could have used more action, especially during the last fight scene with the Iron Monger. The sequence in Afghanistan was great, but the Iron Monger fight seemed too short, and with far too much emphasis on brawling. I think maybe a little bit longer sequence, with both of them showcasing a little bit more of their respective weapons capabilities, would have been perfect.

Luckily, I’m going to get to see it again this Sunday, with David, Holland, and Truett.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m going to see them this weekend. Takin’ a 4-day trip down to Houston to hang out, and maybe make some music as well. I’m super psyched. I haven’t seen them since their wedding! Plus I love making music with the Butler guys. “This is Love”, on the whole, was one of my favorite experiences, and I think the resulting album turned out great.

All right, I think I’m going to end this one for now. I’ll see ya’ll surely.

Oh one more thing, who the CRAP is drawing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: Legacy now?? The most recent issue for both of those comics has been just UGLY compared to the initial issues.