Saturday, March 31, 2012

System Check? All Systems Not Go.

I'm late with Friday Photo Fun again, but I have a really good excuse this week.

My computer got knocked out last week by System Check.  I'm still not sure if it's a virus, a trojan, a worm, or what, but I do know it's a big pain in the ass.  It hides all your files, and keeps opening pop-up windows that say you have critical errors in your hard disk.  Then it tells you your hard disk can't be found.  If you try to close the window, more windows pop-up...it's kind of like driving around with the check engine light on, except that at least that light doesn't tell you that your engine is gone.  Then again, if your engine were gone, you'd probably figure it out without needing a light to tell you so....

But back to System Check.  After it supposedly scans your computer to find the errors, it tells you that you need to buy a program to "fix" the problem.

When I saw that, all the alarm bells started going off in my head.

I rebooted in safe mode, and managed to get on the internet to find out what was going on, which wasn't easy, because this virus, or whatever it is, blocks the web pages that contain any information on how to get rid of it.

Clever little bugger, isn't it?

And it didn't come alone, because in the process of fixing it, I discovered several more virtual pests hiding out in my hard drive.  I ran several different scans, that found at least four or five trojans, some backdoors, and a few rootkits to boot.  It was like opening a seemingly bottomless can of worms...and, in fact, there were a few of those in there as well.  Worst of all, I have no idea where it all came from.  I have a good antivirus, my emails pass a virus check, and I haven't visited any strange websites.

But I guess it's like using a condom...they're only effective 98 percent of the time....What?  You didn't know that?  That's why you should always read the fine print.

I finally did manage to get several clean scans in a row, but System Check hid all the program folders in my start menu.  After poking around a few computer forums, I did find a way to make the folders visible again, but they kept showing up as "empty", even though all the programs were still on my computer.  I tried everything, but there was no way to fix it, at least I couldn't find one, even after visiting all the pages I could find on the subject.

My only comfort, I was not alone.

From what I've read, more and more of these malicious programs, that hide all your files, and tell you that you have critical errors in your hard drive, are popping up all over.  They come with different names, but they are basically after one thing...your money.  And once you have one, it is extremely hard to get rid of.  And even more fun, they usually come with a whole host of other nasty critters, that, if you manage to delete parts of them, will fix themselves by connecting to the internet and downloading the missing bits.

After reading that last part, I decided my best option would be to reinstall my operating system again, because even though I think all the bugs were gone, I really couldn't be completely sure.  And my *$%& start menu folders still wouldn't work properly, no matter what I tried.

And besides, I would never trust this computer again for doing online banking or buying stuff online.  You can't be too careful with these things, which is why I recommend reinstalling Windows if you ever run into this virus, or any similar ones.  It actually takes less time than running all the anti-malware scans, and it's the only way you can be totally sure that your machine is clean.

So, I've finished reinstalling, but I've only just managed to get internet up and running, which is why Photo Fun is a little late, but I'll get right to it.  I'm going to do it in a separate post, though.

So, hang on, I'll be right back with this week's photo.....

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