“Viral” Can Be a Bad Thing

I used to offer quarterly recommendations on my blog, regarding backups. You know about the 11th Commandment, right? Blessed are the prudent, for they have created backups. 

The only reason you’re reading this now is that, here at A&A, we’re rather religious about backing up our files. Go ye and do likewise, people.

Just like “patient zero” in a disease contagion, the first few machines to get infected with a new software worm or computer virus have about zero chance of getting over it and even less of a chance that your antivirus or anti-malware software has a clue about how to deal with it. We became unintentional “early adopters” of  the AV Guard Online worm/virus when I looked at a news video of the Occupy Wall Street protest.  It was embedded in the video.

AV Guard Online is a variation of the Netsky Virus, and is a nimble beast. My webmaster (and white hacker) husband scoured the internet for clues on how to extricate our computer from its dastardly clutches. It randomly hid in approximately eight different places. It randomized its name—made its name into a random string of letters and numbers—and  impersonated valid system processes such as service host. It shut down all antivirus and all anti-malware programs and, most insidiously, blocked all access to sites that would have the resources to repair it. And it blocked system restore! The only way to turn off your machine was to physically hit the power button, or pull the plug! Not good for your computer, people.

The task manager always showed that AV Guard Online was there, because it acted as a “super-user” with domain/admin privileges

My web guy was able to share the infected drive across a network and scan it using an uninfected machine. After that failed to detect any fixable problems it was wipe and reinstall time. So we are a bit late publishing this installment of Abyss & Apex, but it could have been worse.

Backup your data, and make sure you have copies of your software—like your operating system—ready to reinstall, as needed. The files you save may be your own.

 

Wendy S. Delmater, Editor

Abyss & Apex Magazine of Speculative Fiction

October,  2011

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