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Monday, November 10, 2008

VIRUS ALERT!

My gentle readers, it is only through God's Providence and my dear brother's wisdom that I can "speak" to you this evening. And because of this, I'm going to give you a warning in the hopes that you don't get the scare that I did (and still somewhat have...).

This afternoon I was scanning the web while working on my papers, and clicked on a link that highlighted the search term. Something TOLD me not to click on the link...something looked fishy. But no, I didn't listen to that little feeling and as the web page loaded, I can't really say I was surprised when my AVG anti-virus window also popped up, advising me that my computer had just been infected. It highlighted three nasty-looking viruses, and advised me to act immediately to remove them. It gave me instructions to click on "save" or run" in order to erase the damage. (And I was especially alarmed as one of the "viruses" or malware it was naming had the word "porn" in it!). YUCK! YUCK! PANIC! GET IT OFF MY COMPUTER NOW!

But I knew something was wrong. Something didn't seem right. My anti-virus software is up to date; a download seems inappropriate. I remember that when I worked for my previous company, they said that if a virus is detected, to shut down immediately and contact tech support.

Well, I still wasn't sure if this was my own anti-virus, or if it was something else. I wasn't willing to download something I couldn't recognize. I didn't recognize the name of the program it wanted to install in order to clean my computer, even though it APPEARED to be part of AVG. In fact, it APPEARED to be the AVG page and had their logo all over it. It APPEARED to be a reaction to the link I clicked!

So I didn't shut down or disconnect from the internet....I picked up my cell and called my brother. Cool thing; I called his regular number, but apparently he doesn't normally have it on him during the work day. And I didn't have his work number. He just HAPPENED to be walking past his jacket when he heard his phone ring...and picked it up.

THANK GOD!

I told my brother what I did, and what I was seeing. He explained that it was in fact, NOT my AVG anti-virus software reacting; it was the virus itself. And if I downloaded it, I'd have to get a new computer. He deals with this nasty thing almost every day, and quite literally worked HOURS to get the bug off different customer's computers, to no avail. He had to advise his customers that the only way to fix it was to replace the computer, which he was doing for them.

IF THIS HAPPENS TO YOU:

These are the instructions my brother gave me:

* Shut down.
* As the virus-window wouldn't close, he said to hit Alt-F4, which also didn't work.
* I was able to disconnect from the internet with no problem, and THEN the virus-window closed.
* Restart.
* From the START menu, go to My Computer
* right-click on the (C;) drive.
* Click on "scan with AVG" (I imagine that if you use a different anti-virus it will name it as Norton or what have you) The scan took about 45 min.

I had a Trojan type virus, which the software quarantined, and one other problem, which was also "healed" in AVG-speak.

WHY THE VIRUS DIDN'T DOWNLOAD COMPLETELY

My brother configured my computer for me a couple years ago when I purchased it. He was, in fact, my "broker" and custom-designed it for me through Dell. This work he did was part of a Christmas gift for me (I paid for the computer, but his time and effort at a very professional level was his gift.)

It's configured to have a user account and an Admin account. The user account has massive firewalls that require permissions in order to download things. The Admin account has a different type of firewall, and is basically the "permission" account,which he advised me to use ONLY for installs; ie yearly software updates, etc. There are SOME things that can be downloaded on my user account; for example, I can download songs from itunes. I can't update itunes to the next version, however, without logging in as Admin.

The accounts are separate, which protects me from....viruses. I also run a spybot check every so often, and have NEVER had to erase one. So the system works.

Today, the virus was probably "frustrated" because it COULDN'T do the damage it wanted to do; my brother protected me well.

And so, the moral of the story is this: if you are as dumb as I was to click on a questionable link, you better hope your brother set up your system to protect you from your own stupidity.

The nice moral: IF YOU CLICK ON A BAD LINK....shut down, call someone who knows more than you do, and DO NOT be fooled into downloading the virus! This is a nasty, nasty thing, and there must be a special place in Hell for unrepentant virus-progenitors. And hackers. But you can protect yourself and save your computer by simply not allowing downloads that you did not initiate.

I DID have a virus on my computer today, and had I let it download, I might be looking at getting a new computer, in spite of my firewalls. As it was, it was contained by my REAL software and eliminated. It ended well, and I'm thankful.

I don't even want to think about how I would reproduce all my papers due ths weekend...all the work not backed up that I did today....oy....!

God is good. And so are computer-geek brothers!

(P.S. - I think this makes up for all the terrible things he did to me when we were growing up. It's hard to be the little sister!)

3 comments:

Melody K said...

Thanks for the heads-up. I have no understanding of cyber-vandalism, what does it gain them? They'd probably be rich if they put that much effort into making an honest living.

sr mary said...

As a professional in the IT field, THANK YOU... and nice job. And you are right that you are very lucky to have your brother. Another helpful notice: Make sure your back up system is in place, and ALL Essential files are backed up somwehere. OFTEN, a trojan is not erasable or fixable, and the only solution is to return the system to factory condition. YOu loose all data doing this. BACKUP or be sorry.

Adoro te Devote said...

Melody K ~ I don't understand what it gains them, either. The same thing it gains any sociopath, I guess.

Sr. Mary ~ I don't know what I would do without my brother!