Home > Computers and Internet, Technology > Entry 03/20/2011 02:39:24 PM – Mentat 606

Entry 03/20/2011 02:39:24 PM – Mentat 606


Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.” – Oscar Wilde

Sunday here in the Tundras of New England, and at the moment I’m rather annoyed by the fact that on Thursday we had this wonderful teaser of pleasant spring-like weather that had reached the more than comfortable temperature of 70 F (21 C). I had the windows open and enjoying the warmer than usual breeze coming into the house (while also listening to the workers across the street changing out the siding o the house). Even the Hellbeast enjoyed being able to lay under the window and get a bit of heat from the passing sun before I had to close the windows when the temperatures dropped back to chilly. Now as I’m sitting here, temperatures outside are below freezing once again, and the cat’s looking toward me as a sort of portable furnace as she’s not happy to being cold. Particularly sad really given that today is supposed to be the First Day of spring, and impending weather reports through the week indicate that we’re expecting snow showers for two out of the next seven days.

“Don’t worry it’ll change soon enough,” friends and family say.

Definitely not soon enough for the likes of me. I want it to be a bit warmer now so that I can make sure my bike’s properly tuned up for the coming spring through autumn months of riding experience. It’s a bit too cold to be taking a quick spin on the bike when the temperatures are below freezing and the last thing I want is frostbite on my face.

Much earlier in the week as I was sitting here chatting with friends online, my aunt had stopped in and asked me whether I was doing anything and whether I had time to take a look at our neighbor (and distant cousin’s) computer as she was having some sort of computer woes on it.

Thinking that it was probably something minor, I responded in the positive, locked my computer and trudged on over.

What I was met with is the sort of amateur logic that only comes from people that think that when tech supports says, “unplug everything”, they mean everything.

The power strip was unplugged from the wall. The coaxial from both the cable modem and the wall outlet where it had come in and even the CAT-5 from the PC and Cable Modem.

Sighing to myself, I asked what the problem was.

My neighbor tells me that the computer just started acting funny and after calling Cox, they were told to unplug everything.

Well all right, can we get everything plugged back in so that I can look at the problem?

My neighbor got the power plugged back in while I had plugged the rest of the equipment, and after it had booted up and got past the welcome screen saw all too keenly what the problem was.

Ransomware. A piece of Ransomware that I haven’t seen in a couple of years: Total Security 2009 and it working rather well (at being completely bogus and annoying) on a Vista Machine.

So, booting up into Safe Mode, I was able to load in Spybot S&D and with AutoRuns also installed, I was able to find the source of the malware’s loading up (in the HKCU Run area, of course), delete it and remove the malware from the ..\ProgramData area of their machine.

All in all, it took me about half-hour to clean up their machine and as a precaution for the next two (hours), while the anti-virus chugged along, explained the dos and don’ts of malware and the ilk. Along with a healthy explanation of what to do and what not to do when calling tech support and they tell you “unplug everything”.

Following are some of the things that I had covered with them.

  • Always be mindful of your surroundings. Yes, just like how our parents try to teach this to us when we’re younger so that we can avoid harm, the same can be applied to the Internet on the whole. Stick to familiar places, look for such things as locked padlocks in your Web browser (which indicate a valid SSL/TLS certificate, and a site that could be considered “safe”*). Even use the mouse-over function of the browser), not to mention many e-mail clients to see what the link is to see where it’s going. If you don’t recognize it, don’t click it.
  • Have a modest array of protection software. Face it, no one product is the be-all and end-all of anti-virus/anti-malware catching. My advice is, choose one Anti-Virus Solution (AV-Comparatives is a good place to start to see how well one’s current AV solution is, and/or whether one should consider upgrading when shopping around), and maybe one or two different anti-malware/anti-spyware solutions to run occasional and routine scans. Be mindful of running anti-malware solutions along with AV Solutions in the background, as some do not always play nicely with others. On my particular system I run NOD32 (always active) with Windows Defender set to weekly scan and Spybot S&D once in a while for scans/check-ups, and HOSTS update as catch-all solution for sites on the questionable list. For those without experience with such solutions or not very mindful their surroundings, I tend to suggest one of the various flavors from WebRoot. It’s all dependent on how much the person is willing to invest, and how much learning the person is willing to do.
  • Even with solutions in place, the weakest link to system protection is the end-user. As the Greek once said, “ρῇρά ṯοί μαθήσίος ἀρχά” (Experience is the beginning of knowledge, and also known by the idiom “experience is the father/mother of wisdom). There are plenty of e-mail newsletters, news sites, blogs to subscribe to and twitter accounts to follow that cover a wide assortment of news and information about malware (and how to remove them if the solution(s) chosen can’t), viruses in the wild, sites to avoid and various sorts of methods (and solutions) for getting around code injections that can cause a computer to become infected with malware, ransomware and viruses. Such sources of information can be (and often are) geared from the novice/acolyte to the expert/technomage of all things Personal Computer. Don’t be afraid of asking questions and getting involved in the forums, they’ll point you to other resources as well. Finally,
  • When you get an IT Professional involved in fixing the problem, be as truthful as possible. At this point, the damage is done. You went somewhere you weren’t supposed to go, you clicked on something you weren’t supposed to, or you even downloaded something that the Anti-virus didn’t catch, installed it. So, the last thing you should be doing is sitting there with the IT Professional who’s turned on the computer and is asking what you did, is saying “I didn’t do anything…” or “…it just happened.” Tell them as best you can where you were, what you clicked on, or what you downloaded. As a gay man that’s been out of the closet for 31 years and been working in the IT industry for more than 21 years, I can tell you that there is very little that will surprise me in what people find and see in their journeys online. And I know from experience dealing with folk that work with computers and within the IT industry, they know as much about what and where as I do. If you need to be discrete, I understand, but don’t cover it up with “I didn’t do anything… it just happened.” We want to be out as quickly as possible, and if you explain what happened, will speed up the process of getting your system up and online all that much quicker.

[Last Edited: 03/21/2011 11:34:12 AM]

Heh, it would seem that I had forgotten I was working on this entry.

I had decided on taking a break from it as Glenn wanted to listen to Orson Welles’ radio play of War of the Worlds which could be picked up at Mercury Theater and after that ended up finding myself knee deep in the usual drama that only chat can provide. And by the time I went to bed and woke up this morning (to fold the laundry I didn’t fold yesterday), remember that this was being worked on.

Moving on now.

Quite a bit of news from the Apple Front since the last time I sat down and wrote a journal entry. iOS 4.3 for the iPad Touch, iPad and iPhone had been released thanks largely to the release of the iPad2. Seems that all the various news sources were chugging along rather nicely with the advent of the iPad2 and just how much more wonderful things were now that it had been released when low to my wondrous eyes a snag seems to have hit one of the arms of Apple’s commercial hydra. It seems that with the newest operating system, certain iPod Touch displays have been showing pixilation and display degradation along with power consumption problems as reported here. So far, I’ve been fortunate with the upgrade. I have yet to see the pixel/display degradation that has been shown at the various news/tech outlets and with the exclusion of the DI.FM applet that I use to listen to various trance channels that they have offered, power consumption has been as expected.

However, for those that might have experienced either, following are the instructions that I’ve come across in order for those in Windows machines wanting to roll back to the previous version to see if that will fix the problem.

Well that’s about it for the time being. I’m off to rant about the latest episode of Fringe with fellow Usenetters. Until the next time.

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