Merry Christmas/Happy Hannukah/Hail Krampus/Praise Mithras/[insert other two-word-capitalised-Seasonal Greeting]
What does your family do at Christmas time? The general tradition in our family is for everyone to get together, eat a lot of turkey, and then go: “Hey Dan, how are you? Say, I’ve been having some trouble with my PC…” (cue me spending the next two days dismantling machines and pouring the software equivalent of bleach over family members’ hard drives.)
Being both a nerd and a pedant, I do actually take a lot of satisfaction from a repair job well done. Most of the problems can be fixed with a healthy dose of CCleaner (‘Crap Cleaner’), TuneUp Utilities and Avast! Antivirus. ((Or, if I can get away with it, a complete format and the latest Ubuntu distro.)) Computers have always been a hobby of mine and I enjoy fixing them, even if it does mean that while the rest of the family are sitting with their feet up sipping Bucks Fizz and playing with their new presents, I’m on my knees cleaning cigarette ash out of my grandmother’s Sony VAIO.
Today I got around to looking at the machine my teenage sister uses. It was the first rig I built, back when I was 18, and was already well-armed with maintenance and protection software when I gave it to her so it rarely has any problems. But I have just finished wrestling to the death with one motherbitch of a virus that crept onto the machine, and am now full of both disgust and a little bit of admiration for whoever wrote it. As part of my catharsis, here is a brief explanation of what it is and exactly how to kill it.
The Motherbitch Virus: Softwarear
The reported problem was “everything is going slowly and it’s making weird noises from inside the case.” I immediately saw what she meant: just turning the machine on had the CPU fan sounding like it had a dying pigeon stuck inside it, and the machine would intermittently make a weird alien bleeping sound I have never ever heard it make before. Something weird was going on, and before I went any further I cleaned and re-seated components inside the case in case something had come loose or clogged. Made no difference.
I booted up and got this message:
I’ll admit, I skimmed it and clicked — expecting Security Centre to pop up. What I should have noticed from the outset was that Avast! Antivirus had been disabled (the icon to the left, with the red x) and I have never seen that white and green icon on any Windows security thing ever. And, if you actually read the text, you’ll see the tell-tale sign of a scam: Engrish. The fact it was a scam became apparent to me when I saw what was brought up:
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