Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Virus and the Damage Done

(Apologies to Neil Young)

Okay, folks. I am back up and running Everything is back to hot, straight, and normal.

The 'virus' that hit me was not technically a virus as such but a Trojan. It truncated all by .xls, .doc, .txt, and .jpg files and was attempting to hold me hostage, wanting me to but their virus cleaner in order to get my files back. This particular Trojan was so poorly written, however, that it only made one attempt to take me to their web page and then gave up. It all happened so quickly I could not even capture the program name. This one is so new it hadn't even been picked up by Norton or Trend or any of the big anti-virus makers. If I had been able to capture that web page info I could have reported it to Trend and they would have been able to research it and make a fix but without it I was dead in the water.

Lazy and feeling incompetent, in spite of the fact that I have been working on computers since the days of an abacus, I originally took my box to a computer store to be reformatted and have everything reinstalled but friend Scott talked me out of it. We installed it ourselves but with one mistake and later in the evening I redid it myself.

Everything of importance was finished by this morning. There will be more programs to install but they can be done as I need them. I will also probably make an adjustment here and there as I go along but basically everything is copacetic now.

Well, sort of. You are never able to get your computer back to exactly how it looked like and felt before something like this happens. The timing of when things are installed make a difference how they appear on your screen. For instance, I installed the software for my Creative Zen MP3 player after I had gotten a SP 3 update months back. This time I installed it before I had gotten the SP 3 back in. Before there was an icon for a directory with all the programs in it. Now, due to when I installed it, it has thrown 3 icons onto my desktop. Nothing serious. It is just the feng shui of the thing but it feels disruptive.

What has been lost is incalculable however. All my Jpeg photos that weren't on Multiply are lost forever including my middle daughters wedding. All my documents and spreadsheets containing information needed and information stored are gone. All my databases for my library are gone. This all is quite disheartening.

Now, of course, you can say it was my fault for not having an up-to-date virus checker and that is partially true. Not entirely, however. I had all of my stuff on my C drive backed up onto my D drive. That should have spared me. Most viruses and Trojans will not jump across physically separate drives. This one did.

The only fortunate thing in this mess was it did not touch my MP3 files as some Trojans have been known to do. I have tens of thousands of Old Time Radio shows, hundreds of gigabytes. I would have committed ritual suicide if I had lost those.

The people who make these malicious programs need to be hung from the balls. Sadly, as ubiquitous as the Internet is, government does little to prosecute those who use it to attack others unless it affects them, Big Brother, or unless it is a high profile case of hacking into a potential vice-president's Yahoo account. Why don't they prosecute those scores of hackers sitting in Yahoo chat rooms who are forever hacking into users email accounts?

I do have a new virus and security program. I is provided free by my ISP saving me $69 during the Christmas season here where I have enough expenses without this. I do not much care for it, though, and come January I will buy a copy of Trend PCcillin Pro.

And in the meantime I will be backing essential files up nightly from now on onto my external USB drive even though that is painfully slow.
I do not want to go through this again any time soon.

(Originally posted to Multiply December 3, 2008)

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