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Not my week, really

Eh. Now I’ve picked up a virus on my principal laptop. One of those cutesy deals that drops itself into the system tray and pretends to be a virus checker. I think I’ve managed to scrape it out of my system without too much fuss, but now I’m having to run all the inevitable scans and checks.

If I didn’t have this trusty old Linux box, I’d be gefukt.

Especially on account of my increasingly erratic desktop computer has now ceased booting at all. For months, I could wobble the heat sink and get it going after a few resets — so, building on that logically, I took it apart this morning, cleaned all the bits and put it back together again. Now it’s a paperweight.

What gripes me about that is the money I don’t have, of course, and the fact that I’m going to have to learn stuff. It’s been a long, long time since I spec’ed a machine — godnose what the current state of play is with motherboards and processors and RAM and sech. It’s been a much, much longer time since I actually found hardware interesting.

Oh, well. I checked my records and I built this machine in March of 2004, so it sure as hell doesn’t owe me anything.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 11, 2010, 10:26 pm

I’m hoping I can get away with a barebones motherboard, memory, case and powersupply, because the rest of my stuff is okay. In fact, to be honest, I’d like nothing better than to have this machine back just the way it was — it might have been six years old and underspec for today, but it did everything I wanted and then some.

Please god my Windows XP will boot off the old hard drive without giving me grief.

Comment from JeffS
Time: August 11, 2010, 11:27 pm

Jeez! I picked up a malware at work today, a virus checker that is holding my machine hostage. I reported it to IT, and then went home. The malware gremlins must be screaming around the innertubes at warp speed.

I like your option (c), but I would add kneecapping the bastard in both legs with a .357, applying tourniquets, handcuffing him/her to an anchor, and finally leaving him/her out in the wood, listening to a recording of Obama’s most popular speeches….set on REPEAT.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: August 11, 2010, 11:29 pm

Nothing is more awful than having a computer go thbpt and fizzle. . .Last June our secretary’s computer gave up the ghost. Abruptly. The sales rep at the company we use for IT said he’d get back to me about when he could get me a replacement (I wanted it with XP, so she could continue to use WordPerfect 8). . .after 3 computerless days she was looking at me in a way that made me quite nervous about turning my back in her direction, so I went out and just BOUGHT a computer. Forgetting, of course, that it would have Vista installed. So we got past that (it meant in effect buying a new WP license, because they didn’t consider Version 8 upgradeable and we had to replace her EXCELLENT laserjet because there was nowhere on the new computer to plug it in and, well, the whole thing was just ugly). And about two weeks later Windows 7 came out.

So this June our server started acting squirrely, and my partner’s computer slowed to a virtual crawl. . .

I am enslaved to my computers, but there are times I fantasize about throwing them all out of windows. On the third story or higher.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 11, 2010, 11:30 pm

Yeah, that’s the one. The cool thing is, Microsoft Security Essentials found it and has just informed me that it’s a new one on them.

I’m patient zero!

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:00 am

A distinction one could cheerfully do without!

Comment from JeffS
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:06 am

I’m patient zero!

I must be patient one. Although our corporate IT is probably behind the power curve, if it’s a new one to Microsoft.

So I expect the response to be slow. Yay, I’ll have to borrow an unused computer tomorrow…..if my profile isn’t bollixed up as well.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:07 am

Malwarebytes. Probably the best freeware utility around.

EXCEPT that it DOESN’T have your kick-ass options menu…..

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:09 am

Well, I think there are a lot of programs that work like this one. The last virus I got pretended to be a virus checker, too — and that one was an absolute ASSHOLE to get rid of. First thing it did after reboot was disable task manager, so you couldn’t go in and kill the running process. Then it recognized the name “Malwarebytes” and wouldn’t let you run it unless you downloaded it to another machine using another name (I used “thing”). Oh, it took me days to get rid of that sonofabitch.

This one came off relatively easy, but it has somehow buggered my security services so that my browser is blocked by the firewall, but the firewall says it can’t load itself. So it’s gone, but the heartache lives on.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:13 am

I shudder to think of the day when people start writing them things fer Macs. Until then, however, I’ll retain my smugness.

I do not understand why people do this sort of thing…it proves, what? That you’re an amazing dude with code? There are many much better ways to do that without making other people’s lives a mess.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:19 am

This series of trojans is actually maintained and updated. And so far, it’s been VERY successfull in what it does.

It can be a cast-iron bitch to get rid of sometimes.

Comment from JeffS
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:35 am

Nina, the malware on my machine pops up a website where you can “buy” their “virus protection” software.

In other words, they’re blackmailing you by locking up your machine. It’s purely a criminal enterprise, at least morally. Can’t say about legally, although I suspect that the next step is identity theft, for anyone silly enough to actually enter their financial data. But prosecution would be a pain.

Comment from dude
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:37 am

I recently had a virus like that and, after receiving it a few different times, I came to the conclusion it came from an ad on a certain political web site that I visit. So, maybe that’s where you got your virus. My recommendation is to update Firefox (if you use it) because I had been using an older version that may have been my security problem. And, of course, update Windows and other stuff like flash player.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:45 am

I think most virus writers are Mac and/or Unix/Linux lovers who have a serious hate-on for Microsoft and so spend their time crafting these nasty things to “demonstrate” the inferiority of all things Windows. It’s not that Mac and Unix stuff is really all that better security-wise, it’s just that those platforms don’t have the legions of attackers swarming to take them down.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:45 am

I got that bastard a couple of months ago. Took me almost a week to kill it, but the damage was done to my poor trusty 10 year old beast. I replaced it with an iPad. When my hubby’s computer dies it will be replaced by a Mac.

Comment from dude
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:52 am

If by odd coincidence you have the “Antivir Solution Pro” thing like I had go here for removal instructions.

Comment from Zippit
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:55 am

PMFJI, but check to see if it left you a file named “hosts” in Windows/System32/drivers/etc/. (no filename extension – and much to my surprise, there really is a folder named “etc.”) If it did, rename it to hosts.bak or something and reboot. It fixed my firewall problems.

Works unless ya really needs a file named “hosts” (some folks do).

And watch out for restore points. Win security essentials found the bugger hiding in a system restore point after Malwarebytes got rid of it.

Comment from Randy Rager
Time: August 12, 2010, 1:27 am

MalwareBytes is quite good, but so is Advanced System Care, which is also free, and does a whole lot more.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: August 12, 2010, 4:07 am

Just got done watching Quatermass and the Pit. That movie could REALLY use an update, but I did get alot more out of it than I did as a kid..

Comment from MarkT
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:18 pm

Sweasel, my sympathies, and good luck with your cleansing efforts. I hesitate to jump in the conversation here because y’all know so much about computers, while I happily and simply type away on my Mac (but with my fingers crossed). Enas Yori, you wrote: “It’s not that Mac and Unix stuff is really all that better security-wise, it’s just that those platforms don’t have the legions of attackers swarming to take them down.” I’m intrigued and wonder if you could briefly comment. I’ve heard both of your points made before–and I’m not disputing them–but why don’t attackers go after Macs? I’d think there would be some rather rabid little malcontents who surely by now would have honed their skills and aimed at osx. Also, if as you say, the Mac/Unix protection is not all that better, then why is it we blissfully work without anti-virus software? Again, please consider this an educational plea rather than a challenge.

Comment from Mark
Time: August 12, 2010, 1:13 pm

For those of you who are infected:

For those of you with dead toys:
if ya don’t wanna get yer fingers in its guts.

If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty on computer innards:

They are consistently about the best source of what’s the best value. Obviously, on the Other side of the Pond your pricing may vary.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 12, 2010, 1:19 pm

I think I’m all clean now. This one was trivial to remove, unlike the last one.

Except, on its way out the door, it switched on the proxy server, and I couldn’t for the life of me work out why none of my browsers would work. They can’t write informative error messages for shit, can they?

All better now.

Comment from Sockless Joe
Time: August 12, 2010, 3:02 pm

I’m seeing more and more viruses on computers I thought I had locked down fairly well. These bastards are getting better and better.

I like malwarebytes, also SuperAntiSpyware (with all the settings jacked to the max). It’s been a while since I found SpyBot to be worthwhile, but it does have that free “inoculate” function that might be useful.

One trick I’ve discovered with those fakey anti-virus ones, is to boot into your normal (limited) account (– you do use a restricted log-in for everyday use, yes?), and load the scanner using “run as” and selecting the privileged administrator account.

Of course, now that I’ve posted this, those mutha-frakkers will “fix” that…

Comment from lauraw
Time: August 12, 2010, 4:30 pm

I had to have a tech come and fix my work computer that got absolutely destroyed by that little bugger.

I ran scan after scan and cleaned up lots of bugs, but whatever-it-was would continually drag lots of new crap over and keep reinfecting my computer after every time I thought I had it licked.

The problem with these particular viruses is that they are not really viruses, according to my geek friend.

On the internet I’m running Firefox with NoScript and that seems to be keeping the crap from being able to glom on to me.

Comment from Deborah
Time: August 12, 2010, 6:13 pm

Glad to know you are all better now. A day without Stoatie and Uncle Badger is unthinkable.

Comment from Sigivald
Time: August 12, 2010, 7:50 pm

Big option: i7-920, 6gb DDR3. (9 or 12gb option as needed depending on MB.)

Medium option: i5-750, 4gb DDR3.

Small option: i3-530, 4gb DDR3.

Video to suit preferences (for non-gamers, any old thing works).

I built an i7 gaming system two years ago and it’s still overpowered in every respect except the video card.

Comment from Sockless Joe
Time: August 12, 2010, 7:56 pm

–“On the internet I’m running Firefox with NoScript and that seems to be keeping the crap from being able to glom on to me.”

Yeah, I do that too, but it’s hard to make others follow suit.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 12, 2010, 10:28 pm

It’s tue, Sockless Joe, and I confess I’m one of ’em.

A while back I caught one of the nastier viruses (or, rather, my computer did) and despite Avast and the XP firewall (both running on the machine at the time) and liberal applications of all the fixitware programmes mentioned above (including Malwarebytes), in the end it was just costing me too much time off work, so I whipped out the hard drive and put in a new one.

Of course, that only works if you’re a fanatical backer-upper and have installation discs. I am and I did.

The trouble is, I find surfing frustratingly slow as it is and NoScript makes it even fiddlier.

Have to say, that exerience kinda put me off all the anti-spyware stuff I used to run. When it came to the crunch none of it worked.

I’m quite sure the CIA, NSA, GCHQ et al could track these bastards down if they could be arsed. And it’s high time our governments made them. This must be costing zillions in lost manhours.

Weaselhours too, come to that.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: August 13, 2010, 12:03 am


Sorry I haven’t responded sooner but here ’tis:

but why don’t attackers go after Macs?

I figure the reason is probably along the lines of “Don’t crap where you eat”. Also, since Windows-based stuff is so much more prevalent in both business and home use it just simply isn’t nearly as cost-effective. Not to say that there aren’t viruses & trojans & such for macs, there are but just not nearly as many.

There I’d think there would be some rather rabid little malcontents who surely by now would have honed their skills and aimed at osx.

Oh there are. There’s a big computer security conference in Las Vegas every year called “Black Hat” and all the world’s best hackers attend. They have several contests to see who can hack and crack various systems the fastest. Last year someone cracked the latest and greatest version of Internet Explorer with all the security bells and whistles turned on in record speed. I forget exactly how fast but IIRC it was under 10 minutes. The same dude cracked the latest and greatest Safari browser on a Mac even faster. Granted, a directed attack isn’t quite the same as viruses and such, but I think you get my point – every computer system has vulnerabilities.

Also, if as you say, the Mac/Unix protection is not all that better, then why is it we blissfully work without anti-virus software?

Ignorance is bliss? 😀

To be fair, I suppose I should modify my statement about the Unix/Mac security “not being better”. It is better if only because their exploits aren’t as thoroughly researched as Windows is. But hey, I’m not a computer security expert by any stretch of the imagination, so my opinion is worth about as much as anyone’s. I think the going rate is 2¢. Hope that helps MarkT!

Comment from Sockless Joe
Time: August 13, 2010, 10:36 pm

NoScript isn’t so hard to live with once you have white-listed all your routine sites, which I admit does take some doing. Pair that with the “IE tab” extension for those occasional stubborn sites, and you’re in pretty good shape.

One of the problems with Windows is that too many people run with unrestricted accounts. Not sure how Mac handles that, but with Linux it is de rigueur to have both admin and normal (restricted) accounts.

Unfortunately, quite a few Windows programs practically force the user to run as Administrator. Even security updates for Java and whatnot aren’t automatic if you never log in as admin to clean up that sort of thing.

Comment from J2
Time: August 19, 2010, 4:52 pm

I believe that only governments can f-shit up to the point of no return… if they had any competency at all I would say they(a government turd of some kind)were behind much of this bother… but I’m not a tinfoil hat afficionado so I’ll have to stick with answer c.

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