Happy New Year!
In a couple of hours it'll be 2013.
Here's wishing everyone a meaningful New Year's eve, and a happy and prosperous 2013.
In a couple of hours it'll be 2013.
Here's wishing everyone a meaningful New Year's eve, and a happy and prosperous 2013.
About a year ago I was hoping that 2012 would turn out to be a better year that 2011. With five days left, well, was it really better?
I suppose it was, though it was not the home run I had been wishing for.
Embroiled in a lot of work though, and got to travel more than I usually do, which to be honest, seemed rather meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
I did a lot...but it really didn't seem as if I accomplished a lot if you know what I mean.
Like a hamster in a hamster wheel.
Life has apparently made me insensitive to the simple things...simple things that once, I guess, brought me uncomplicated joy, but now are simply set aside as an eventuality of life.
People come, people go.
The days pass into weeks, which passes into months, which passes into a year.
And a year doesn't seem that long anymore.
Holidays come and pass...Christmas and New Year's eve rolls over again.
The Mayan calendar has ended, without much as whimper from the world which is supposedly near the end of its days.
Material possessions hardly matter as much as they once before, yet I still pursue them, if only for lack of anything else to do.
There is still the abstract pursuit of truth, the abstract pursuit of trying to do the right thing. But it doesn't seem to matter.
Perhaps inconsequentiality is our fate.
We can aspire for the highest things, the greatest good, and we can delay the onset of futility, but only for so long. Then we find ourselves existing, but forgetting how to live.
The fundamental truths that I thought I knew haven't turned out to be so true after all.
Bad things happen to good people.
Good deeds are not always rewarded.
Bad deeds have as much chance to reap rewards as much as good deeds apparently.
And the truth? No one apparently really seems to care about it all that much, content to exist within the illusory veils surrounding their own lives.
Am I depressed? Perhaps. Maybe just a case of holiday blues. But I meant everything I typed in this post.
That doesn't mean I'm giving up on life...on the things I believe in...if only because they have been so ingrained in my existence I can't shed them even if I wanted to.
Going back...2012, how was it?
It's okay...and I'm thankful for that.
I am grateful to the Creator for giving me all the blessings that I have received, and for watching over those who are close...and perhaps not so close to me.
I pray that my obsession with futility will not determine the choices that I make.
That I still stick to the right thing, no matter how seemingly inconsequential the right thing may appear to be.
Life is a continuous pursuit of...pursuits...which we decide to undertake for ourselves, for others, or for some surreal goal that perhaps is only understood by ourselves.
So here's to continuing the pursuit, because as I am so fond of saying, life's a trip, not a destination.
In 2013, we soldier on, as we have always done.
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all of you.
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Set up and turn on the PIN option on your SIM card. It's a measure of defense to ensure your phone bill doesn't rack up charges if it's stolen and later turned off, or someone uses it in another phone, and it will buy you time to call your network and have the SIM deactivated;
Set up the security code of your phone. Yes, with the right tools it could be defeated, but why make it easy for thieves to use or sell your phone?
Look around before using your phone or tablet in public places. Some places are safer than others;
Set up the PIN or pattern lock of your phone or tablet. If you use your phone for Facebook, Twitter, email, etc., your account information is stored on your phone. Anyone who comes into possession of your phone and unlocks it can potentially masquerade online as you. They can also have access to your photos, messages, email, etc.;
Don't leave your phone or tablet unattended. You could be a victim of casual theft;
If your phone or tablet uses Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) and up, you have the option of encrypting your entire device. Consider full encryption if your device stores valuable information;
Secure your PC or notebook with a password, and lock it whenever you leave it unattended to discourage potential snoops;
If practicable, secure your notebook if unattended with a Kensington-type lock. It's a deterrent against casual theft;
When setting up a wireless network or a portable hotspot, secure it using WPA2 or WPA. Don't use WEP. WEP can easily be cracked with downloadable tools;
When looking for a wifi hotspot, be wary of free, unsecured hotspots. These could be baited hotspots which could potentially steal information from your notebook or mobile device;
Whether you use a PC, tablet or mobile phone, install an antivirus/antimalware program and keep it updated. There are lots of good free antivirus/antimalware programs on the web so, you don't have to spend to protect your devices. Some malware can potentially steal your personal information;
Don't open email attachments from people you don't know;
Don't open email attachments even from people you know if the email doesn't seem like one the person you know will send;
If you receive an SMS telling you you won something, it's a scam;
If you receive an SMS from someone pretending to be a relative abroad and the number used is his/her new roaming number, it's a scam;
If you receive an email telling you you won something, it's a scam;
If you receive an email telling you inherited something, it's a scam;
Pretty much consider any email you receive from someone you don't know a scam, especially if it seems to good to be true;
When entering login information to any site, check the address bar to make sure that site is really the site you're logging in. Otherwise you could be a victim of "phising";
When using a public computer (such as in an internet cafe) or a shared office computer, never forget to log off from any social networking site, email account, etc. you've logged on. The next person using the computer could tamper with your account.
It's been more than two months since I last posted a blog entry. For some reason I just couldn't be bothered anymore.
I've been blogging for almost eight years now. It used to be a lot of fun. Now, It just seems like a lot of work, when I can easily express myself with a few keystrokes on Facebook or Twitter.
I don't get as much visitors as I used too. No surprise there though...seems like everyone is into social networking sites.
Perhaps...for me at least, blogging has lost it's charm.
It's not that I don't have anything to blog about, quite the contrary.
I've been reassigned at work to something with a little more ooomph. Though it still remains to be seen if I went from the frying pan to the fire.
I've been out of the country a few weeks ago.
I just moved up to a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus.
And those are not the only things.
I've given up on online gaming, particularly an old favorite of mine, Cabal Online. After my account was hacked several months ago, I couldn't in good conscience give any more of my hard earned money to e-Games who botched up my perfectly good account. I still have a pending complaint with them and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), no results yet though.
In the middle of playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It's a fabulous game, but I haven't been playing it much lately. I must be getting old, or at least the gamer in me is.
My son moved out several months ago. It's just as well, it wasn't working out for several reasons.
The point is, my life hasn't been static the way this blog is, and yet, I'm not driven enough to blog about this stuff anymore.
I don't see myself quitting though. But I don't really see myself going back to how I was during the early days, posting almost every day.
I guess I've changed. Maybe a lot. Some things still remain the same though. I still have a lot of frustrations. I still hate summers. And I'm still stuck in my mid-life crisis.
Well, maybe the charm will find itself back to me.
It's the second last day of the year.
It's been more or less a good year I suppose...still had my fair share of hard knocks. Perhaps even more than years past. I guess things are looking up now...though my losses are still pretty apparent.
I hope 2012 turns out to be a better year than 2011.
I cannot recommend any of their (e-Games') online games to any online gamer who values security and the integrity of their accounts.
Last November 1, around 4:00 PM, I was logged in on Cabal Online PH, a Korean MMORPG published locally by E-Games using my PC at home. With my character just idly standing in the vicinity of Bloody Ice (one of the first three towns of the game) and while I was tending to other things, all of a sudden the account logged off. Thinking it was only a network problem, I tried logging on again, only to be given the message that my account was already active. I logged on, only to be disconnected again, with the message that someone else was logging in my account. I tried logging on again, got disconnected, and tried logging again several times in succession. After several minutes I finally got my account logged on. When I selected the character I was online with only a few moments ago, it was stripped naked. Checking the inventory and personal storage, my worst fears have been confirmed. My account has been hacked, and the valuable items were stolen.
As a matter of course I filed a help ticket with Cabal Online PH's support desk, then I called up my girlfriend who's also into playing Cabal Online. Her account was also hacked...only within a half hour or so of my account being hacked. Like mine, her character lost its armor and a number of valuable items. All in all, the lost items represent quite a huge fortune if expressed in in-game currency, and possibly a small one if we're talking real money.
I guess if you've been playing Cabal Online PH yourself, no doubt you've heard of horror stories of other accounts being hacked. Maybe your account has been hacked before. Me? My account has never been hacked before. My girlfriend's account as well. I've been playing Cabal Online PH for more than three years on and off, and the same account and character of mine that was hacked was the same one I've been using during Cabal Online PH's open beta testing three years ago. My girlfriend has been playing it for slightly more than a year.
The clincher is, I don't think either of us fall within the norm for your standard hacking case.
Both of us are in our 30s, degree holders, gainfully employed, and play Cabal Online as a diversion from our daily routines. We play only on our own PCs and own internet connections. I play on my home PC or on my laptop, connecting either through PLDT DSL or through Sun's wireless broadband service. My girlfriend only plays on her laptop, also through Sun Wireless Broadband. We have never played in an internet café, on a public computer, or on any other computers other than the ones we own.
Both of us have IT backgrounds, so we know the importance of regularly scanning our PCs for viruses and malware. Before and after the hacking incident, we have scanned our computers with reputable and up-to-date anti-malware and anti-virus utilities and determined them to be free from any such malicious software.
We have never used any third-party programs, cheats, or hacks. We play the game as it was meant to be played, and enjoy the game that way.
We've never let anyone else use our accounts. Other than ourselves, no one knows our login names, much less our passwords. And our passwords aren't easy to guess for that matter.
We are aware of phishing and scam sites and have never logged on any of them, and we have never entered our login names and passwords on any other site except the official e-Games portal.
We also as a matter of course keep our inventories and storage areas locked and secured.
Yet, despite all these precautions, our accounts were compromised, and our characters' expensive items stolen.
Perhaps worth noting, is that our accounts only got hacked a couple of weeks after our characters started donning Mithril armor (the most expensive armor in the game) and the fact that our characters belong to the same guild...information, that it isn't farfetched to surmise, which can easily be gleaned from a character database using an appropriate search query.
To be honest, I've been racking my brain if there was something else I could have done differently...something I could have done to further secure my account. I can't think of anything else.
Based on this, we've arrived at the hypothesis that our accounts could have only been hacked by those with inside access, meaning either an e-Games employee, or someone with access to login information obtained through an e-Games employee.
There is simply no other explanation.
Check the audit trails...check the backup data...check the logins of your personnel, and the IP addresses for consistency. It is so easy for an authorized employee to get the relevant login information from its database, forward it to an outside accomplice who can then log in the account and steal the valuable items, only to sell it later for real money.
While e-Games maintains the policy, and this we agree with, that it is the player's responsibility to secure the confidentiality of his/her account password, we strongly disagree with the premise that e-Games itself is entirely free from any liability, given that the security of its internal account database and system are its responsibility and not the responsibility of the players themselves. There are only two possible avenues to a security breach, one is through the client side, and the other through the server side. e-Games cannot claim absence of responsibility on its part of maintaining the security and integrity of its server-side data.
In fact, the Game Policies of e-Games itself bear out this inconsistency:
xxx...E-Games does not guarantee that its portal and corresponding game websites are free of any harmful software, and that the same is hack-proof. Account Security is therefore the sole responsibility of the account holder. As such, you are earnestly enjoined to take all security measures reasonably available to safeguard the operating system and accounts when accessing the Games and the websites...xxx
e-Games admits that it cannot guarantee that its portal and websites are free from any harmful software and the same is [sic] hack proof...and yet in the same paragraph it maintains that account security is the sole responsibility of the account holder.
Honestly, I believe this is a lot of bull. Admitting that one cannot guarantee the security of its system, then passing the sole responsibility of account security to the player, who is merely a client/user. And this from a company who profits by selling privileges to players to use on its system.
I can go on a legalistic tirade on why this policies are bull, but that is not the point of this blog post. The point of this blog post is the fact is that e-Games itself, by our own experience, and by its own admission cannot guarantee the security of its own system. This is simply unacceptable for a company which operates that system for profit.
Admittedly, the concept of MMORPGs has very little legislation going for it in terms of client/user protection, but there are tons of general laws which can be invoked in order to protect the rights of the client/user. It cannot be helped I suppose, online gaming being a niche market in itself, that it is for the most part unregulated. Nonetheless, that is not an excuse for not securing the personal information and login passwords of registered users.
From a practical point of view...if you are aware of and diligently follow all of the rules when it comes to account security, who else is there to blame for hacked accounts? To my mind, the blame falls squarely on e-Games' shoulders, and they cannot shirk away from this responsibility on the basis of its game policies and license agreements.
Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating, nor am I planning to take this issue to court. That's a bit extreme for something which is as trivial as an MMORPG. Nor am I or my girlfriend clamoring for the return of the lost in-game items, which may or may not be possible. Thankfully, the items were procured through honest-to-goodness in-game farming and selling and not bought using real money. But still, the effort exerted shouldn't just go to waste...or trashed because of e-Games' inability to provide adequate data security.
For me, e-Games should just do right to those who have been availing of its services, the very players it gets its profits from. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am not one of those pimple-faced teenagers whose (admittedly sometimes exaggerated) claims or allegations e-Games may easily dismiss.
The requisite help tickets have been filed, though there is still no official response at this point. Personally, I am looking at all the possible angles and remedies for this situation, which may include government involvement, media, and possibly, if the circumstances warrant, court intervention, though only as a last resort, if only just to establish a point, never mind if the case is actually lost or won.
Frankly, the loss represents more to me than just the loss of in-game items. The hacking incident has eroded my trust in e-Games' ability to secure its system, and for that reason I cannot recommend any of their online games to any online gamer who values security and the integrity of their accounts. Go to some other online game publisher, one with a better track record when it comes to security, or stick with local network multiplayer gaming or single-player games.
And consequentially, the lack of trust with e-Games has now deprived me of an activity that I once enjoyed and shared with my significant other and even my son before. It's a good thing though, that there are other things to do. But still...
The reason that hacking is so prevalent...and yes, it IS prevalent...just Google up "Cabal PH hacking"...is because it can potentially be a very lucrative endeavor. It is not unheard of for people to spend up to thousands, even tens of thousands of pesos, just to get the most powerful virtual weapons and armor, or the highest level characters. And somehow, in this gray market, hardly any regulation exists, at the expense of those honest players who don't deal in real-money trading and only wish to enjoy a pleasant and secure gaming experience, willing to pay the nominal and legal costs incidental to it and its local publication, but somehow find themselves victimized by unscrupulous hackers. e-Games' indifference to hacking doesn't help either.
This is not the end though. We may no longer be playing Cabal Online with the enthusiasm and zeal we had before...hell, we may even quit entirely given our distrust with e-Games...but personally, I don't want this loss on our part to be in vain. Sooner or later more people will realize the one-sidedness of this entire episode, e-Games' indifference to the plight of its hacked players, the massive hacking that has remained largely unchecked, and local online game publishers, especially e-Games, will be forced to put a higher priority on data security, on data confidentiality, on employee selection. We expect the highest level of data security when it comes to credit cards, bank accounts, ATMs, money transfers and remittances, social services like SSS and PhilHealth, prepaid loads, internet accounts, email accounts, social networking sites, etc. Online games should be no different. And if a company cannot guarantee the security of its data, it has no business holding our personal account information only for them to lose or allowed to be divulged and be misused.