Hacking Hollywood

Busted! My notification from Comcast.
Busted! My notification from Comcast.

Once again a post-career opportunity in crime is knocking on my front door. This time around it actually arrived via a hole in my home network’s firewall, but let’s not let semantics get in the way of a good story. My point is that I have unwittingly stumbled upon a lucrative future in the theft and distribution of Hollywood intellectual property. Look for me at your town’s local flea market — I’ll be the guy selling nondescript DVD’s with unique and alternate spellings of well-known films.

I’m pretty confident that this won’t pose any problems with my pension. The agreement the federal government made with me when I left its service stipulates that I need to jump through bureaucratic hoops if I wish to work for them again. But they never said anything about working against them. So by virtue of this blog post as notification of my new intentions, I declare my ducks to hereby be in a row.

I wonder if LinkedIn has an appropriate career category for larceny?

This all arises from a missive I recently received from my cable and Internet provider, Comcast. The good folks there tell me that I inadvertently infringed copyright for the 2015 movie Jurassic World. “Inadvertent” is actually my characterization of the allegation because I’m pretty sure that I didn’t do it. I have never seen the film, I don’t ever watch movies on my computer, and I must sheepishly confess to never having seeing any of the earlier Jurassic Park series films (I’m not much of a fan of blockbusters).

Still, my computer’s IP address was caught red-handed by the ever observant Hollywood security apparatus, and I do take these guys seriously. I remember many years ago when their brethren in the music industry were throwing the parents of teenagers into debtors prison because of the online antics of their children. The cute little tykes were downloading songs illegally and the record companies showed no mercy at all.  Parents were fined extraordinary sums, sometimes amounts of up to a hundred thousand dollars or more.

These entertainment moguls don’t play — just ask Rob Lowe when he deigned to hang out with Snow White for a mere fifteen minutes of song and dance without paying a royalty. Disney was not amused.

Source: Associated Press
Source: Associated Press

So just how did I get into this position?

Wanting to get to the bottom of my newly established bona fides in the criminal enterprise arena, I called Comcast to see if I could find out a little more than their e-mail was telling me. A heavily accented customer service rep named “Kevin” took all of my information. He then asked me if I was using any kind of peer-to-peer or “P2P” technology on my computer. I told him that I was not.

P2P allows for a group of individuals to form a network of interlinked computers to share data with one another. So if one person has, say, an illegal copy of Jurassic World on a computer for viewing, all of the other computers and users on that same network can each share in the enjoyment of the film instead of having to find a way to get it themselves. Share and share alike. This is pretty much what the kiddies were doing on Napster back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s that so enraged the music industry. Another name for this is called File Sharing.

“Comcast Kevin” really wasn’t interested in a long phone conversation with me. I got the impression that these kinds of intrusions into Hollywood servers happen quite frequently, and Internet providers such as mine duly report the action to their offending customer in a rote and systematic manner. In other words, “Dude, if you did this you’re totally busted, and this is also your first waning; If you didn’t do it, just ignore.”

Kevin did encourage me to tighten up my home network’s security because he said it was more than likely that one of my neighbors probably found a way of using our WiFi as a way to connect to a P2P network.

As much as I hate to be an accessory to a crime, I am getting a grin out of the fact that the offending hacker is a fellow resident living in my own retirement community. This takes “Jurassic” into an entirely different realm. I bet this guy doesn’t wear the required wrist band when visiting the pool either.

Source: Uiaccess
Source: Uiaccess

After he was finally able to end our phone conversation (I audaciously kept asking questions), Kevin e-mailed me instructions on how to strengthen the security of our WiFi network. It was an eye-opener to see that when logging into our settings, the password for our modem was actually the word “password.” Oh, those amusing contractors for Comcast who do the installations. They obviously enjoy playful tomfoolery when setting up new customers.

It didn’t seem to matter if my WiFi password was complicated enough when the modem was itself so vulnerable! So in addition to changing the modem’s password, I came up with a new name for our network, and I also changed the WiFi password for good measure.

I realize I’m not fooling anyone, though. The only people who will encounter problems logging into our network will be us. Our passwords are now made up of so many numeric and special characters that Gorgeous just stared at me in disbelief when I showed them to her. I am making an attempt at due diligence, but I also know that the average teenager can probably break my codes in five minutes or less. My 67-year-old neighbor I assume will do it in seven minutes.

So call off your goons, Hollywood. I am not your bogeyman. The worst it ever gets from my computer is watching clips that someone else has uploaded to YouTube. If you’re coming after me for the many views of Ralph and Norton in old Honeymooner clips, then I’ll just save you the time and declare myself guilty because that’s about the extent of my infringement. As a criminal I’m a bit of a lightweight.

Until next time…


9 thoughts on “Hacking Hollywood

  1. This is becoming too complicated for me. I just want to use my computer for easy stuff like watching a few YouTubes and Ted Talks, simple research, and maybe some Facebook stalking (I rarely post anything). If Kevin had asked me about P2P, I would have had no idea what he was talking about. I can’t believe that the Comcast techs actually made your password “password.” I wonder how many customers know that or take the time to change it. I think that would have been my next call.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It worries me that it’s becoming commonplace to hack into one’s own desktop/e-mail/web sites to take over an identity for nefarious purposes. I have, what I believe is, a very good Internet security software program running and multiple complex passwords, but I often think, especially when I’m doing online banking, if one day that’s going to be compromised. Scary, but can’t really go back to 1970’s banking anymore. As for dealing with the cable companies, I had a funny situation with our cable company when we first moved into our house about 9 years ago – not via desktop or Internet connection hacking – where I had to get their assistance in putting a password on the cable company’s onscreen main menu options. We noticed that one of our TVs on the top floor was seemingly changing channels on its own while we were watching. We soon realized that someone across the street was using their remote and changing our channels at the same time; I guess the frequencies of the two remotes were the same; no idea. It was a nuisance until I got the monthly bill showing that all the HBO suite of channels had been ordered under my account. When I called to complain, the cable company clearly read back to me the exact day and time it was ordered. I had to plead with them to finally take it off the bill, along the way realizing that the neighbor had ordered it. Since putting on the password, no other problems. I’ve never heard of such a weird thing since.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree — there ain’t going back to the inconvenience of days of yore. I have just sort of in some ways at least mentally already granted that my banking is compromised. So if I check it daily (or at least every other day) to look for anomalies then I’ve got a fighting chance of at least calling the bank to get whatever charges or debits removed. Whoa, your neighbor was actually changing channels *and* ordering HBO on your account???? That’s more than simply borrowing a cup of sugar!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Scary stuff indeed. As it happens, I just read something about this earlier today – unfortunately I can’t recall the what and where. In fact this is so scary that I googled for How to Tell if Your Neighbor is Hacking Your Wi-Fi earlier (but after reading your post) – and the amount of info available is astounding….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know. The things about it that worry me for the most part is when I log into my bank, my pension, and the Social Security web site. Otherwise, most of my e-mail and online browsing is fairly benign. But still — private information that can be culled by the bad guys is always scary.


  4. A man of many talents, Marty. Those passwords are a problem though, two days ago it took me four hours to reclaim my Microsoft account because I had forgotten the password. Now the technos have dreamed up this crazy system whey a code is sent to your mobile phone which raises problem number 2: mine is either flat or AWOL and when discovered, is flat. It would have been easier to drive in to town speak to someone in an office and extricate myself from the fiasco of unremembered passwords. Some of us are so paranoid about all this cyber security stuff we even remember to forget our own cyber keys, or maybe “we” are just getting on a bit. Nice post, again.


    1. Oh, jeez, Linda. I can totally relate on so many levels– especially the “we” factor! I’m so sorry to hear about your four-hour odyssey. I too struggle so much with the whole routine about passwords, safety, etc. I’ve begun using “conventional” means to keep written records of my passwords (i.e. something slightly more secure than post-it notes on the side of the computer, but not much more). There are just too many damn accounts to keep track of now! Thanks so much for reading…

      Liked by 1 person

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