Tuesday, February 02, 2010

A request for help

I have not written much during the last month. The reason is that I have been trying to defend myself against the worst virus attack I have experienced during these years. As I already told, the hell got loose at New Year Day. Within week I had to admit that it is impossible to work with the old Windows machine. My childish hope was that it would be something technical like the failure of the hard disk. I bought a new Mac, something highly non-trivial in my difficult life situation as unemployed. I am grateful for those people who made this possible.

WinEdt is an excellent program and I wanted to continue to use it. I bought also Windows 7 and Parallels to my brand new iMac and began to work again in optimistic mood. Soon files however began to disappear, be replaced with empty ones or become corrupted. The hard disk had not been the source of problems. It was a virus attack but not by ordinary hackers: standard firewall programs continually failed to find anything. I began to see the bigger pattern as I learned from news that Microsoft had known already at autumn that also Windows 7 Ultimate contains a hole allowing computer criminals to take a control over the machine. The government of Germany had even warned citizens about Windows Explorer. With some deeply irrrational motivation I had used Windows Explorer once before I had realized that I shouldn't do it. Was this the fatal mistake? I do not know.

I decoupled Windows 7 completely from Mac OS and hoped for the best. Again I was too optimistic. This particular working day began with the discovery that my invisible enemy had deleted almost all chapters in one of the books. This kind of sadism really beats me down. So much hard work has gone to developing these chapters. These files are really my flesh and blood. I was too sad to even try to check what they had done to the other books. Time Machine -the backup system of Mac - saved the situation as it has done many times during the last week. This is fine and the graphics of Time Machine is enjoyable art but there is of course no point in a continual downloading of the earlier tex files. I really want to do some real work too.

I have tried to understand what the ingenious and cruel trick could be. Could the tex files representing my life work be infected so that any attempt to work with them breaks the hell loose. No help from re-installing the operating system, or buying a new computer, or even changing to a new operating system. Or is a selective virus in question? Could they use a virus able to get to any computer but activating only in the desired target so that the virus would not find its way to the data basis of any firewall program? Recognition of the target would be easy using the information obtained using Spyware. The letter combination "TGD" for sufficiently many times is all that is needed for recognition. So simple it could be.

I has been incredibly difficult for me to accept as a fact that that there is some individual or some group doing this completely purposefully. Everyone of us knows that there are sadistic psychopaths around us and that ordinary benevolent human beings can behave like beasts as a group but it is almost impossible to believe that it is just me who could become the victim. Every one of us works desperately to keep the illusion that all human beings are basically human or at least human to me.

Again and again I have asking who could be behind this terror. Single person? A psychopath? A religious or political fanatic? Some mad scientist who wants a revenge? Or is it a group, a kind of collective psychopath consisting of ordinary human beings who would not do anything like this as individuals? Maybe. TGD is the realization of the great dream about unification. This is an undeniable fact. Equally clear is the fact that the establishment cannot admit the situation publicly since this would be a confession that something incredibly stupid and cruel comparable to what happened in Soviet biology during the days of Lysenko has taken place. Maybe the complete silencing of me using even the dirtiest tricks is believed to make possible to avoid the scandal. Unrealistic of course and horribly cruel. I have worked now 32 years without receiving a single coin of direct funding for my work. I have never had a research position. The power holders of science have systematically suppressed my attempts to communicate my life work by applying censorship in both journals and archives. My mission is the only thing I still have. I am begging only for the possibility to use my remaining years to fullfll this mission. Even this they want to prevent. It would be more merciful to kill me physically. I cannot find words to express how deep disgust I feel towards the people responsible for this terror. The people behind this do not deserve to be called human beings.

After this month of continual terror I am ready to confess that I am completely helpless. Every attempt to overcome the situation has failed. A top computer professional would be needed but I am unemployed with a minimum income and living much below the poverty limit so that this is completely outside my reach. I still have a lot to give for the human kind and I can therefore only beg for help. Maybe some-one reading this and realizing how horrible things are happening in Big Science could do something.

28 Comments:

At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You situation is not very clear to me.
If i understand well, you have a Mac and a PC on Windows. Do you have problems with both computers? And are both computers connected on internet?
If you have two computers, i would advise you to use only one for internet, and the other for working. Also, always use external backup systems, like an external hardrive, to backup your documents.
Also what type of internet connection are you using? If you are using a wireless connection with a WIFI modem, be careful to protect your connection with a password. If it's not protected, everybody can use your internet connection.
Concerning virus, if you dont' install pirated software, in general you should not have any problems.
I am not a top computer professional and i don't know if my words will help you, but that's all i can say for the moment :-)

Philippe.

 
At 7:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, if you reinstall Windows, be sure that you erase all the data on the hardisk, in order to do a 'clean' install. Otherwise, viruses or spywares could remain on your hardisk.
When you install Windows from your cd-rom, the setup has an option which displays the partitions on your hardisk, if you delete them and recreate them, you will be sure that all data are erased. Of course, before you have to backup your important documents. If you install this way, you are 100% sure that no virus will be left on your computer.
Concerning viruses and spywares on Windows, i advise you to install Security Essentials from Microsoft. It's not perhaps the best anti-virus on the market, but it's free and it works correctly.

Philippe.

 
At 8:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last but not least, when you speak about Windows Explorer, i guess you are speaking about Internet Explorer, the browser. Windows Explorer is an application from Windows which allows you to manage files.
I doubt that it would be really a problem to use Internet explorer. There are millions of people using Internet explorer each day without any problems. Just be sure to update frequently your computer in order to apply the security patches.
The only problem could be if you go to some websites, and you have some advertisements which invite you to install some free softwares on your computer. Never install them, except if you are sure you can trust it.
Concerning browsers, i use Google Chrome, which has the reputation to be safe and fast, but it's up to everybody.

Philippe.

 
At 9:42 AM, Anonymous K.R.A.M. said...

I passed along your problem to a work colleague who is a PC specialist. He recommended that you use 2 machines. But keep one completely ISOLATED from the Internet (and any other intranet).

Do all your publishing work on that machine. (This of course assumes that the machine's hard-drive has been throughly "scrubbed" clean. If you have to, reinstall the operating system.)

Then transfer your work to the Internet machine by using a flash drive, CD, DVD. But DO NOT electronically-connect to the other machine. Ever! Period! This includes any PC-to-PC network cards etc.

Note that ALL TRANSFERS are from your work machine TO the Internet-machine. They should NEVER occur in the opposite direction. One-Way only.

Your work machine will be a true stand-alone, isolated computer. Now if files on that become bad, you either (1) have corrupted software or (2) a person who is physically sneaking in and sabotaging your machines.

-- Mark (aka "K.R.A.M.")

 
At 10:16 AM, Anonymous K.R.A.M. said...

One more thought. This is applicable only if you are really paranoid. This is no secret, either.

There is a "back door" to your Windows (and possibly MAC) machine. It was put there intentionally by Microsoft at the request of the U.S. NSA. It allows either of these to access your machine regardless of anti-virus or firewall protection. I forget which folder it's in but you can Google to find out the rest of the story.

And this was many years ago. Who knows what else has been added since.

They emphasis is again that you keep your work machine electronically disconnected from any type of network (global, home, anything!) That means no more downloads to software that you have initially installed. No registrations. Nothing. Apparently this is a (unfair) price that has to be paid for your research to continue.

When you transfer your work using CD/DVD/flash, that medium will be a good permanent backup also. Kills 2 birds with 1 stone. Just file it away after you're done transferring.

 
At 9:10 PM, Blogger janne said...

Indeed isolating a computer is a practically foolproof way to probe this situation.

 
At 9:39 PM, Blogger janne said...

Btw flash drives can propagate viruses. Best way to ensure one way transfer is to use medium where you can explicitly control the write permission, such as a CD-R/RW or a floppy disk. USB floppy disk drives can be had for almost nothing these days.

 
At 10:56 PM, Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Anonymous wrote.

"You situation is not very clear to me.
If i understand well, you have a Mac and a PC on Windows. Do you have problems with both computers? And are both computers connected on internet?...."

I have old PC with Windows Vista and new iMac with Mac OS and Windows 7 plus Parallels.

The problems began at New Year Day in old computer using Windows and working became soon impossible: I realized that I am not the only one sitting at the computer and this other one does not like my tex files at all;-). The new computer is iMac and I wanted to use both Mac OS 10.6 and Windows 7 since I have been accustomed to use WinEdt. Parallels made this possible or so I thought;-).

Soon the working in parallel model in iMac became impossible since tex files started to disappear and become corrupted. I stopped using Windows and later removed Parallels since the problems continued: I thought that accidental startup for Windows 7 by clicking file might be the cause of problems. It is now clear that even this was not enough. This morning a check for one randomly chosen folder showed that one tex file in it had disappeared.

I decoupled old computer from net. I have external backup. I can use only single computer now since the old one does for the tex files the same as the new one but much more effectively. Internet connection is via modeme.

 
At 11:06 PM, Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

To Anonymous. I decided not to take risk about Internet Expolorer since things are difficult enough even with Mac alone;-). As I told in Germany government encouraged strongly to avoid using Internet Explorer since the newly found hole makes it easy to hijack the computer. Very probably this happened for the old computer and perhaps also the new one when I used Window 7 with Parallels.

The hole does not probably cause problems for an ordinary user but the situation is obviously different in my case.

 
At 11:32 PM, Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

It seems that Mark's suggestion is the only possible manner to proceed. It would be so nice to copy bibliodata to an article directly from web. This is a little loss however!

The possible problem is that just the loading of the needed programs such as WinEdt -even without net connection- might allow the viruses to leak in. This brings in mind Hofstadter's story "This record cannot be played by.." ;-). Windows 7 classified WinEdt as a security risk: maybe the program files contain viruses.

I do not whether tex files themselves can have the infection. IIf so there would not be much hope unless I give up my working method. Most that I have achieved is due to a continual critical reconsideration of the old material in the perspective provided by new ideas. I would really like to polish the material so that it would be as internally consistent as possible.

 
At 1:05 AM, Blogger janne said...

Google came up with this:
http://securitydigest.org/core/archive/115

If the tex files contain this sort of scripting than maybe the files themselves could be the cause.

Frankly I couldn't have guessed Latex was capable of this sort of file i/o.

 
At 2:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matti:
What about using on Mac a free tex editor?
I am not familiar with tex, but look at this:
http://www.ams.org/tex/public-domain-tex.html#mac

If with this free editor you will have still problems, this would mean that the tex files are the problems.

Philippe.

 
At 2:39 AM, Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Thank you Janne. This is really valuable piece of data. I did not understand the technical details but it seems that what is told fits perfectly with my situation which has continued for years but become completely intolerable in New Year.

For instance, I had to stop MATLAB calculations last May since the programs went totally mad: this period lasted for a month at least. I use latex text editor to write the MATLAB programs.

This might also explain why Microsoft classifies WinEdt as insecure.

It would seem that there is no way out of the situation unless the tex files can be polished somehow from the viruses. Can one imagine how to achieve this?


This also explains the flexibility of the terror creating the feeling that someone is using your computer.

Things were simple twenty years ago. I just started to write in the morning. After all these technological advances the hope of writing anything at all seems to be too much to dream about!


To Philippe: I am usingTexWorks. Free editor might be worth or trying. I have however a strong feeling that it is just the tex file character which is responsible for the vulnerability to attacks.

 
At 2:52 AM, Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Little additional comment. I decided to reinstall the Windows Vista to the old computer. I however got a message that the CD which should contain the OS is blank! Either my friends have done a perfect job or Acer sells empty system CDs.

This is so crazy that I can only laugh!

 
At 4:43 AM, Blogger janne said...

If there's something wrong with the tex files it should be obvious by seeing a long list of obscure TeX commands like on that URL.

I don't think you can corrupt MATLAB by tex script viruses? Well anything is possible just as long there's a way to modify binaries. There's atleast one MATLAB script virus too, but these should be obvious to spot by going thru the .m file aswell.

 
At 4:49 AM, Blogger janne said...

Ah, self blanking system CD. The warranty must have expired.

 
At 5:58 AM, Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Thanks Janne. There are no visible TeX commands other than those that I have typed. If Tex files allow to affect operating system, MATLAB functioning can be of course spoiled also indirectly. I remain puzzled and wait what tomorrow brings in.

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger Doug said...

Hi Matti,

It may be that the recent attacks on Google itself may now be aimed at all users of Google material?

 
At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This may be completely grazy, but since you brought it up yourself :):

"This brings in mind Hofstadter's story "This record cannot be played by.." ;-)."

... suggesting that like the Higgs Boson God particle, which cannot be played by the Universe - according to a recent article you are familiar with - the completion of your work is similar record that cannot be played by...

Meaning a TOE with empirical prediction and test that if the TOE ever gets completed, the completely mapped map as landscape get's completed and goes boom.

There's an old scifi novel about Tibetan monks counting the God Number, then they are given computers... so it's not a new idea.

 
At 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An intuitive hunch draw attention here, a link to Higgs:



"3.Special relativity is brought in via the bomb formula

E=mc2.

One introduces also other expression for the rest energy. Thermodynamics gives for non-relativistic thermal energy the expression

E= 1/2N kBT.

This thermal energy is identified with the rest mass. This identification looks to me completely ad hoc and I think that kind of holographic duality is assumed to justify it. The interpretation is that the points/bits on the holographic screen behave as particles in thermodynamical equilibrium and represent the mass inside the spherical screen. What are these particles on the screen? Do they correspond to gravitational flux?

Comment: In TGD framework p-adic thermodynamics replaces Higgs mechanism and identify particle's mass squared as thermal conformal weight. In this sense inertia has thermal origin in TGD framework. Gravitational flux is mediated by flux tubes with gigantic value of gravitational Planck constant and the intersections of the flux tubes with sphere could be TGD counterparts for the points of the screen in TGD. These 2-D intersections of flux tubes should be in thermal equilibrium at Unruh temperature. The light-like 3-surfaces indeed contain the particles so that the matter at this surface represents the system. Since all light-like 3-surfaces in the slicing are equivalent means that one can choose the reresentation of the system rather freely ."

 
At 12:23 AM, Blogger Ulla said...

Gravitational flux is mediated by flux tubes with gigantic value of gravitational Planck constant...

And the whole Universe lay on his shoulders.

The work is already done. It is only the fine adjustments left, if above would be true it would have been stopped long ago. As the Master thought of the Higgs, according to your source.

No, there is something panic in this. I think the Master do want it to be continued. But somebody else not. And I don't think of the other Master then.

Please, don't do this. It is bad enough as it is. It is his life, flesh and blood, his heart, so don't torn in it any more. His "son" is strong, monumentous. He will live.

He must feel like Prometheus did.

 
At 3:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you mean this: "Zeus punished Prometheus for his crime by having him bound to a rock while a great eagle ate his liver every day only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day."?

No theory is "larger than life". This gift of living and being and experiencing may feel very painfull at times but yet it is a gift to be gratefull for. Living through the Prometheus-myth in unbearable loneliness is not something to be wished upon any fellow being. But the thing about myths is that they can be only lived and experienced, not understood by art of interpretations that makes the head dizzy and panicky. Better to breath calmly and just feel one's body.

Where do love and compassion come from? From lonely Gods talking to themselves? Or maybe the "Higgs boson" need not be looked further but is each heart allready, often just hidden and forgotten?

I don't have any idea what this is about, a computer glitch, a conspiracy, something even more wierd. Maybe it's just one of those extended Januaries, maybe switching to Linux might help. Who knows, maybe someone does.

Whatever this problem is, maybe it's also a reminder of something else that's been neglectec. Or can be used as a reminder. :)

Hugs to all

 
At 5:34 AM, Blogger Ulla said...

Yes, I thought of that, and also why Prometheus was punished. He wanted to give the mankind a great gift so they would survive.

Higgs boson in the hearth? Sounds poetic. Like gravitation :) Love and compassion really is gravity (entanglement) and it is the forgotten part of the evolution.

To take a deep breath and calm down is often very useful. Afterwards one can smile at it.

Hugs back.

 
At 4:37 AM, Blogger foundrysmith said...

I had a nasty virus about a week ago, and found the information at the following link very helpful:

http://www.fixvirtumondedll.com/fix-virtumonde

Evidently there are some very difficult programs out there raising all kinds of hell - sadly, the spammers do seem to be winning.

I did manage to resurrect my computer, with a combination of spyware removal, also had backup software installed. Having the backup hard disk saved me.

Be careful not to go too far with the software recovery. I had the thing working, then tried to "optimize the registry" with a canned program. Managed to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory! Fortunately, there was a redundant hard drive that saved me.

 
At 5:16 AM, Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Well, I do not regard myself as Prometheus yet;-) . I removed the last Windows applications at Wednesday and the situation has remained peaceful since then.

I really hope that it continues like this. I am however afraid that we will have a kind of malware explosion. The economic depression of thirties lead to second World War. Perhaps next World War will be information war and takes place between individuals rather than nations.

There was article for about year ago about the situation: the conclusion was that quite possible the situation is already lost. Ordinary users are happy after all: they get only viruses which use the computer to just replicate but do not destroy the computer since this does not make sense. But if you have an archenemesis ready to pay for IT criminals your working conditions might become really difficult unless you have some infra structure like business organization as a shield.

 
At 2:02 PM, Blogger Ulla said...

Prometheus is just a myth. I drove some parallells to it, as I felt then. You know I overreact, always.
Sorry.

Happy things has calmed down.

I read Stuart Kauffman yesterday. He says that the reductionistic worldwiev finally is loosing. But we need more value. We must take our dignity as humans back. That is ethics too. And as I see it we have nowhere we can find it, not Church, not politics, not science. We must get it inside ourselves.

This feels a bit naive today :)

 
At 9:18 AM, Blogger xyz said...

Hei Matti.

I'd advice you to use at least Windows Xp in your old PC, since Vista is know to cause many problems to its users.

Although I have suggested XP, the best solution would be Linux. If you have time and courage, you could try the latest Ubuntu (version 9.10) in your old pc. Linux has good protection from hackers, and provides many Latex platforms as well.

For example I use Kile, which is really helpfull, and provides the user with many templates to avoid starting from scratch.

Finally I have to agree that the best strategy to keep your important documents safe is to have your work-pc always offline. Plus, I would add, use Linux.

I'm sorry to see a fellow physicist in such a struggle.

Wish you the best,

Michael L.

 
At 9:56 AM, Blogger Ulla said...

This year is a bit unusual. It is the year of the white Tiger, especially the silver Tiger, and you are metal Tiger, so it is your year :)
White Tiger is very energetic. This year is very turbulent acc. to the Chinese zodiac, and it happens to start now today, on the Valentine Day. It will perhaps give you luck. I really hope the bad times would be over and TGD would be accepted and discussed.

I know you are a bit sceptic to all this, and that is wise, but listen what they say. The year will begin with an exceptional event, a big trouble. Your New Year did that, and I take it as a sign.

I really wish you good luck this day my friend. The bad times is not yet over but let us all hope they will soon be and that TGD will be accepted as a theory. Maybe the Higgs particle will be found and it is too light or too heavy for the Standard Model.

 

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