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#1 2015-09-22 18:42:43

Inodoro Pereyra
#! Die Hard
From: Back in Buenos Aires
Registered: 2013-07-01
Posts: 844

Hello again everybody. Should I be worried?

Ok, after a loooong time being Internet-deprived, today I could get connected (though only for a little while), so I decided to say hi. Besides that, I've had an issue a few days ago, and I wanted to let you guys know.

Maybe what I'm about to say is common knowledge, but it sure was a surprise for me. In any case, it's unlikely I will be able to check any replies to this in the next 2 weeks at least, but I wanted to let everybody know what went on, just in case.

Like some of you know, I used to live in the US, until I was deported, in March 2013. A few days ago, I finally decided to write down my experiences, while I spent little more than a year under the custody of ICE. So I started to type a document on Libre-Office Writer.
It all went without incident, until, one day, I saw my computer connect to a wi-fi for a couple of minutes, while I was typing.
This is nothing new. Every time somebody with an unsecured cellphone goes by, I get connected for a minute or two, and then it's gone. So I didn't really think much about it. I finished typing, closed everything up, and went to sleep.
Next day, I started my computer (again, with no internet connection), and, to my surprise, the moment I clicked on the file to keep on working, the file opened for a second, then closed, and a box appeared telling me the file "didn't exist". I looked everywhere, but there was no trace of it.

So, I did know Big Brother kept a close eye on pretty much everything that happened online, but I wasn't aware they even got inside your machine like that.

So, my questions are:

1. Is this known to happen?

2. Should I be worried?

3. Is there a way for me to keep it from happening again?

Just to make things very clear, I'm absolutely sure I did NOT delete the file accidentally. Of course, being a document dealing with the US govt., it had plenty of trigger words. However, I did never try to upload it. Hell, I didn't even have the browser open at the time.
Finally, I checked all my other files, and none were affected in any way. Just that one.

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#2 2015-09-22 19:16:58

pingu
#! Junkie
Registered: 2014-12-05
Posts: 367

Re: Hello again everybody. Should I be worried?

Inodoro Pereyra wrote:

It all went without incident, until, one day, I saw my computer connect to a wi-fi for a couple of minutes, while I was typing.
This is nothing new. Every time somebody with an unsecured cellphone goes by, I get connected for a minute or two, and then it's gone.

Imo, you should worry about this first. Why would you want your computer connecting to any unsecured wifi within range?

Last edited by pingu (2015-09-22 19:51:32)


"We don't merge kernel code just because user space was written by a retarded monkey on crack."
Linus f****g Trovalds

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#3 2015-09-22 20:10:04

redcollective
Member
Registered: 2012-10-29
Posts: 47

Re: Hello again everybody. Should I be worried?

There used to be an 'orrible bug in Libre Office where if you shutdown too quickly after closing a file there would be no guarantee the file had been written to disk, because office wasn't fsyncing (synchronising the data in memory with the disk) to ensure the data had been written to disk... this was many many versions ago, however. I'm sure google can drag something up on it.

But pingu is right... address that wifi issue.

EDIT:

forgot to add - try

watch ss -tp

ss is Socket Stats, -t means give me just the tcp stuff, and -p means show me the processes, so if a process is initiating a connection over wireless I'm going to guess you might see it appear

Last edited by redcollective (2015-09-22 20:29:50)

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#4 2015-09-23 18:20:04

ohnonot
...again
Registered: 2012-05-22
Posts: 2,205

Re: Hello again everybody. Should I be worried?

imho, this is a psychological trap i used to fall into in my early linux days:

  • because i'm new to linux, my awareness is heightened for all sorts of problems happening.

  • therefore, all issues (connected or unconnected) are likely to be associated with the thing that is occupying my mind.

[ typical examples: "my hard drive suddenly started making funny noises!" or "since i switched to linux, my internet is slow!" - once the novelty wears off and i feel safe with linux, i don't have these experiences anymore ]

in your case, it's not "new to linux" but "writing about the u.s. of a. and my own (maybe traumatic) experiences".
in both cases, something at least potentially subversive.
i don't think libreoffice acting up and a random wifi connect has anything to do with the topic you wrote about.

that said, don't just connect to any passerby wifi.
internet slut gets internet syphilis.

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#5 2015-09-24 03:41:53

Inodoro Pereyra
#! Die Hard
From: Back in Buenos Aires
Registered: 2013-07-01
Posts: 844

Re: Hello again everybody. Should I be worried?

Thank you all for the replies.  smile

To give you some answers:

I didn't set my system to connect automatically to any network. For a long time, I was connected to the network at the place I lived, and I didn't even know the system was setup that way. Now there's no network where I live, and my bedroom is right at the front of the house, right at the side of the sidewalk, so I keep getting connected to random networks all the time. I don't know how to change that setting.

Ohnonot: you may be right. However, you have to admit it's highly suggestive that, after 6 years using first Open Office, and then Libre Office without ever having an incident, I just happen to get a full document disappear right in front of my eyes in those circumstances. I find really upsetting the thought that I'm either gonna have to get a second computer to work exclusively offline, or go through a lot of other inconveniences, because I can't trust the security of my own hard drive.

I'm sure I'm not the only one here that worries about privacy. I have gone through the paranoid guide several times in the past, and wish I could understand it better. Either way, I don't even know if implementing it (if I was actually capable of doing it) would make a difference in this scenario.

In any case, now I work with wi-fi disabled most of the time, and only enable it when I need it, and after making sure any external storage device is disconnected. I don't particularly like doing it this way, but, until I can get the money for another machine, it's the only choice I have.

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#6 2015-09-24 04:43:53

ohnonot
...again
Registered: 2012-05-22
Posts: 2,205

Re: Hello again everybody. Should I be worried?

Inodoro Pereyra wrote:

it's highly suggestive that, after 6 years using first Open Office, and then Libre Office without ever having an incident, I just happen to get a full document disappear right in front of my eyes in those circumstances. I find really upsetting the thought that I'm either gonna have to get a second computer to work exclusively offline, or go through a lot of other inconveniences, because I can't trust the security of my own hard drive.

my point exactly: it's the only connection you can see at the moment ("highly suggestive"), because your head is so full of nsa agents and "i'm finally raising my voice".
(which is an entirely Good thing, of course! raising your voice, i mean)

==> if you want to go at it technically, you would switch your computer off immediately, then, hopefully you still have some live usb lying around, boot into that, and recover what you can (there's a few tools for that; i've used photorec/testdisk succesfully a few times). and while you're at it, you should scan your machine for malware or (literally in this case) spyware. i haven't done this myself, but i can tell you that much: they can't just reach in from the internet and grab your files (unless you specifically set your machine up to allow that). it takes a little more than that. you know, programs. not untraceable, most probably.

In any case, now I work with wi-fi disabled most of the time, and only enable it when I need it, and after making sure any external storage device is disconnected. I don't particularly like doing it this way, but, until I can get the money for another machine, it's the only choice I have.

you really don't need a new machine for that. networkmanager is a little weird to set up, but once you got it, it won't automatically connect to new networks. worst case, don't use networkmanager. but that's for a different thread...

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