Thursday, May 10, 2012

Back from the (almost) dead

Friday night I went out to see a friend's band in Scranton. To hear them, too, though I wish I had followed my own advice and taken earplugs with me - they were good, but loud, and standing directly in front of one of the speakers didn't help.

Within an hour of getting home from the event I managed to unleash a virus onto my computer.

In retrospect I think I know what happened. A pop-up window appeared while I was bumbling around the internet and asked me if I wanted to install a certain program. I was given options of "Install" and "Cancel" - and like an idiot, I clicked on the one marked "Cancel", instead of x-ing or Ctrl-Alt-Deleting the browser out of existence. As I have just learned, when these pop-ups pop up, often the entire thing is one big button, and clicking anywhere in it will install the program.

The first sign something was wrong was when I was attempting to open some trusted sites in Chrome and was informed that the sites - like Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and even Google - had suspicious-looking authentication certificates. I decided something was wrong with Chrome, and had to open IE to get to Google so I could research the problem. The official Chrome support sites were less than helpful, consisting mostly of people posting precisely the same problem I was having, followed by requests for more details from the Google techs. It took a lot of digging and a lot of false leads, but I finally came across one explanation that should have occurred to me from the start: malware.

Not to worry. I had Malwarebytes, and I had (had being the functional word; I don't see either of these now!) Spybot Search and Destroy (I think that's what it was called), and I had a top-notch antivirus program...which should have protected me in the first place.  Malwarebytes revealed a collection of suspicious-looking things that I removed. Spybot spotted a few others. My AV was able to target one program as the source of the problem, but couldn't remove it.

Fine. Screw it. I had a virus problem almost exactly a year ago, and took my computer to one of those big box electronics stores to have it deloused, and while I was electronically pouring money into their pockets,  I decided to spend a little more for the extended protection program. So I knew I was covered. Unfortunately, I didn't haul my computer up there until Sunday afternoon, and they told me that turnaround time would be about 48 hours, as I expected. But they didn't actually get things wrapped up until late Tuesday night, so Wednesday was the earliest I could pick it up.

In the meantime I had online obligations I was shirking. I should have written up the NEPA Blogs Blog of the Week for Tuesday, but I didn't, and dumped it in Michelle's lap. I also should have changed the NEPA Blogs header image on Wednesday, but I had had the foresight to send a bunch of header images to Michelle a few weeks ago, so she was also able to take care of that - and get the story behind the image from the person who submitted it.

Meanwhile, the weather conspired against me. We have had copious rain the past few days, but Wednesday started off sunny and clear - perfect grass-growing weather. I was in work during the day and couldn't do anything about it, and the forecast had suggested that rain would be coming later in the day. But it stayed dry into the afternoon, and conditions were perfect after work for mowing the lawn. So I did. By the time I was done, I really didn't feel much like taking a trip to pick up my computer. So I let it go until today.

Now here I am. Hundreds of emails behind, dozens of Facebook updates and tweets and blog post updates to catch up with. Several deaths have passed without my comment - George "Goober" Lindsey (whose hat on Hee Haw was a prime example of the lost art of repurposing a used-up fedora - and a real-world version of the "crown" worn by Archie's friend Jughead), Maurice Sendak (who was haunted all his life by the fact that he accidentally brought about the death of one of his friends as a child during a simple game of catch, when the friend ran into the street to retrieve a ball Sendak had thrown too far - and was hit by a car), and Vidal Sassoon (who had the most amazingly kickass biography you could imagine - how many people were both anti-Nazi street fighters and revolutionized women's hair fashion?) I also failed to commemorate the anniversary of the passing of Franco Kossa, the founder of the Sideshow Gathering. My own blogiversary is in here somewhere - either I have just missed it, or it's just about to happen.

So now I'm back. It will take some time for me to catch up. I've just re-installed Malwarebytes on my system, and a scan came up clean. Spybot Search & Destroy is installing as I type these words. This post is (almost) my first signal to the world that I'm back online. We'll see what I missed in the past few days!


hedera said...

Wotta bummer. Glad you got it fixed. I had a virus myself recently - blew right past Norton Internet Security which I am considering replacing with one of the freebies. What AV do you use? By the way for the most comprehensive list of how-to-remove-viruses that I've ever seen, I recommend (love the name!). I used their instructions to clean one of those popup viruses off a friend's computer.

D.B. Echo said...

I use Webroot SecureAnywhere. I haven't had an issue with anything getting through in nearly a year, and I've been pretty happy with it.