When you think you've been hacked or something - but you're deluded and/or paranoid and possibly delerious

Thursday last week, still fighting post-covid symptoms (massive sinus pain around my skull into my lower mandible and neck and quite a bit of “brain fog”) - odd things started happening on my PC, some URLs wouldn’t load… Was having a few drinks and watching a game of Footy (free to air, over the air using VLC to tvheadend running on a Pi3) - and didn’t bother trying to fix Thursday night.

Friday morning - it seems to be getting worse.
Symptom 1 : in my gmail inbox, in the web client for gmail, in Google Chrome, I click on the link to a “The New Daily” news story (any one of them) and the URL NEVER loads in Chrome. I can kinda / sorta get it to work in Brave, sometimes, sorta, kinda.

I can repeat almost the EXACT same symptom on my SamSucks Galaxy S9+ (with Android 10) - in the mail client, touch the link to a New Daily news story, attempts to open it in Chrome on Android, without success. Hmmm… Disable WiFi and force phone to use 3G/4G and it WORKS!

Hardly ANY of these symptoms are happening on my MacBooks, or to anyone else in the house (i.e. everyone else uses Apple stuff - the only “non-Apple” stuff in the house is my Linux machines and my Android phone).

Then I fire up Steam (Linux) and I get “Could not connect to Steam Network” :anger: Hmmm… Probably due to covid brain fog, I go the “WHOLE HOG” and wipe Ubuntu 20.04 and install 22.04, in the mid/late afternoon. Late Friday arvo - the massive sinus SKULLF–K pain kicks in, and I leave it there - half done Ubuntu 22.04 install, still got same / similar symptoms with a fresh O/S - e.g. fresh OS fresh install of Google Chrome - can’t open those TND links from my gmail… Grrr! So I’m in bed trying to sleep off the massive headache by 7pm…
Wake up 4:00 am and take another look at my system. Install Steam and still “Could not connect to Steam Network”… Fire up steam on my Mac, and load game - THAT WORKS! Boot up my Lenovo running Fedora 36, try to fire up Steam “Could not connect to Steam Network”… Grrrr…

Reboot my router… make sure it’s got another new IP address from ISP…

This is about 11:00 am (Saturday) - things miraculously started working again, maybe from after midday or so, but gradually… ever so slowly… get some sudafed into me and no late afternoon sinus skullf–k… By three pm everything was back and restored, connected to Steam and installed Cities Skylines and I’m cooking with gas on Ubuntu 22.04. Google Chrome : CHK! Brave : CHK! Streaming services (SBS, ABC iView, NetFlix and Apple TV) : CHK!

I think it was probably a combination of things, that led me to suspect something nefarious… but it probably comes down to false paranoia…

  1. my google chrome cookies et cetera or something got corrupted or screwed up
  2. the Valve Steam Linux servers for Australia might actually have been down (I don’t know if they have different servers for different platforms, they probably don’t give a rat’s arse about Linux users in Australia as there’s NO PLAN for a SteamDeck release in Au mostly because we have WORSE broadband infrastructure than many third world countries due to the ideology of the right wing Rupert Murdoch beholden former regime of Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison).
  3. something was screwed up with my external ISP IP address

In that process I also changed a bunch of passwords for various things, so it also forced me into an unscheduled security audit…

I’m probably going to stop using Pi-Hole, as it causes more issues than it solves, and Brave does a better job blocking ads (Pi-Hole can’t even block youtube ads anyway, but Brave manages to)… The few ads that do get through, e.g. ItsFoss aren’t in your face and annoying and it helps these sites get revenue…

I’m not saying I’m “hack proof” - but I’d imagine I’m a tad better protected than many Windows users… I do use fairly sophisticated passwords, and I do have MFA and 2FA setup for some things - e.g. when I first connect to Google Sync - I have to use my USB Fido device to establish a one time trust (and again if I change my google password - spent 45 mins on Saturday hunting a USB A to C adaptor for my Galaxy to use my Fido token / MFA thingie)… I was just being paranoid in a “perfect storm”…

  • Note : as an aside, my USB 3 issues that occurred on Fedora 35 and Ubuntu 22.04 previously, have not re-occurred, I think my BIOS flash update might have resolved that… 22.04 has been up for nearly 48 hours and USB 3 devices are staying connected, and plug in a new USB 3 device works…

Benefits : I’m now more secure that I was before, but not complacent, I am running Gnome 42 on Ubuntu 22.04 and getting much better GPU peformance from my Radeon GPU (Radeon RX 6600/6600 XT/6600M with 8 GB GDDR5) than I did on Ubuntu 20.04… This is the MOST EXPENSIVEST GPU I’ve ever bought, I paid around $500 for it, you can get a PS/5 or an Xbox for that money! As a comparison my NVidia GTX1650 Super with 4 GB DDR5 cost about $350 (early last year - during the “drought” for things like NVidia RTX based GPUs).


In the eastern states there have been power supply instability problems. They corrupt our modem/router. I have to keep turning it off to force a fresh boot.
No idea if that has any relevance to your issues, but it may be that Apple devices are more rugged in the face of power instability.

Its the winter solstice.

@daniel.m.tripp Hope you are feeling back to normal or close to it.

I’ve had a few mysteries similar to yours, but can’t think of the details at the moment. Always nice to hear you’re not alone when something like this happens. I usually suspect DNS in these odd situations and it sounds like you did too (pi-hole). I just use u-block and disconnect browser add-ons and OpenDNS for some filtering.

I’m happy using Ubuntu 22.04 and have not noted any incompatibilities so far. Keeping my BIOS and firmware up to date is the big struggle. Dell seems to have mostly Windows installers for the updates. I did check https://fwupd.org/ and it has lots of updates, but doesn’t cover all my hardware.

Man! Now my work supplied MacBook Air is playing “Mr Diabolical” with my sanity!

When things go right in Apple land - it’s a magical land of rainbows and unicorns… When they go wrong? It’s SHITSHOWER of hairpulling headf-ckery!

Took me like forever - I’m talking A MONTH to finally get connected to a Citrix “Thin” client (nothing thin about it - the most obese client solution I’ve ever had inflicted on me - to do this thin client, I have to use an EOL OS X VM virtualised on my current macOS Monterrey - I call that VM “obese-client”)…

Seriously - some things in Apple world are the LEAST intuitive I’ve EVER encountered! EVER! And I’ve done Slackware 3.0, SunOS 4.1.3 and IBM MVS JES2 shit… I’ve SPENT ALL F–KING morning trying to get my work Macbook on ethernet, just about through in the towel… You’d a thunk a Belkin USB C ethernet adaptor “sanctioned” by Cupertino, and purchased in an Apple store, would be plug and play wouldn’t you??? WELL F–CKING NO! You counter-intuitively have to actually go into the “+” thingie in the network thingie in the system preferences thingie, to add the “plug and play” USB device!

FFS! On Linux - if the USB device is supported (kernel drivers / objects) and the ethernet port connected to a switch - you plug it in for the FIRST TIME EVER, and it WORKS without intervention broadcasts a DHCP request, gets an IP and you’re online… on a Macintosh? YEAH (queue sarcastic laughter)…

Having written all the above, I rarely encounter issues like this on my personal MacBook Pro M1 - I mostly blame the VPN client and SOE “assimilation” (Big Brother) enforcement on the work MacBook Air (it’s also a diabolically slow piece of crap compared to my M1).

All that trouble-shooting I did - and it somehow renamed my MacBook back to the factory default of “MacBook Air” (yeah - a f-cking POSIX compliant system that has a space in its name? POSIX my ARSE!). And I can’t get it to rename again to my preferred name!

Had to break out some CLI to force change the hostname :

sudo scutil --set ComputerName $NAME

Intuitive? My arse… Easy to use? My arse!

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This is not exactly an ad-blocker but it does a good job in general. Highly recommend: https://someonewhocares.org/hosts/zero/hosts

I can vaguely remember a similar solution on Windows (hosts file)… Then I got hit by some kinda trojan/virus (it was EMBEDED using ActiveX into a Windows Media Player video - I actually still have that video file [Rocky Horrow Show] - no danger of infection if using VLC, or a non Windows machine) - and unbeknownst to me, an “undocumented feature” (read: major flaw) of Windows XP (not sure if it was in Win2K or NT or 95/98) - is that it would also read a hosts file located in C:\Windows\help - WTF? Really? Yeah… So - not just C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc !!! DIABOLICAL!

That solution looks unmanageable - quite happy with Brave, as SBS On Demand doesn’t detect I’m running an ad-blocker…