Thursday, May 27, 2010

Debra - Back from the grave or “I’ve been hijacked!”

(Friday-even though I can’t get Blogger to admit it.)

No, no.  Not physical death.  Not car hijacking.  

We’re talking computer death and browser hijacking.

I’ve spent the last two days with Bijan.  Nope.  Not a contracted individual from another country.  But a nice American, flesh-and-blood person from a computer support company without the word “geek” in their name.

Anyone who knows me will confirm I run a tight ship.  Never had a virus infection that didn’t get caught by my obsessively up-to-date virus/security/spyware all-in-one mega-defender of my faith in safe surfing.  I’m talking in 20+ years of computer, I have never had anything.  That all changed Tuesday when I was following up on some piracy due diligence.  (which point forces me to post the lovely visual reminder of our books to illustrate this blog.  Not my fault.  Really.)

I noticed the tiniest of “blips” when I hit a site.  Even now I can’t tell you what happened because nothing happened.  Other than my feeling like something did happen.  I left the site immediately.  My mega-defender didn’t squawk.  My mega-defender was up-to-date.  My mega-defender was on.  So, I closed up shop and began again the next day, reasonably certain that all was well in Debra-Land.

But, no.

Suddenly, about mid-morning, my browser went to a website other than the one I thought I clicked.  After a moment’s consternation, I said, “Oh, wait.  There’s my website in another tab.  I must have accidently clicked a Google ad.”  And then it happened again.  And again.  The Google listings were false.  I wasn’t allow to manual start mega-defender scanning.  I wasn’t allowed to go to “cleansing sites” of the mega-defenders.  Any attempts to type direct URL’s were met with maniacal virtual laughter and a browser redirect to another “Buy it now, dammit!” site.

Fine.  I’ve never met a fight I didn’t enjoy.  “Bring it you slimy rat bastard.”  I switched immediately to Mozilla Firefox.  I managed to get to mega-defender, but by then Rat Bastard had caught up to me and began redirecting me off the mega-defender page.

Fine.  I go to AOL, its sweet little browser probably forgotten in the evil Rat Bastard programming.  And score!  I get back to mega-defender and run an online scan.  It found a virus.  I wrote down the name.  But the evil program stopped me from “buying” and downloading anything from mega-defender and locked up my computer.

I reboot, foolishly believing that mega-defender will catch this on start up.  Not only did mega-defender NOT do diddlily, it let the Rat Bastard disable my mouse usb port.

Fine. “You want to play that way?  You want a piece of me?  You can’t HANDLE me!”  I rebooted in Safe Mode and fetched my wireless keyboard and mouse.  Poof.  I was back in business.   But who wants to live in safe mode?  And I didn’t trust the Rat Bastard not to do more unfathomable bad things, so I went to a command prompt.  Yes, DOS.  I speak DOS.  It’s  little embarrassing to admit, but there you have it.

I backed up all my data (pretty much all current, but I never take chances).  With DOS.  A job I hope never to have to repeat.   The next morning, Bijan entered my life.  About 3 hours and a Diet Dr. Pepper later he pronounced me risen from the dead.  And left.  About 3 hours after that my computer threw down again.  ::sigh::  Rat bastard.  Sneaky Rat Bastard.  This time he took my mouse out first thing.  Now that’s scary.  A browser hijacker that LEARNS on the job.

Bijan came back this morning.  Did many more exhaustive things.   And trust me, I was yanking registry entries and services right and left the night before.  It wasn’t like I hadn’t tried to get a handle on it.  But it was SOOOO many places.  Bijan took it personally.  He was a man on a mission.

In some ways I have to thank SRB (slimy/sneaky Rat Bastard) for this experience.  My computer has never run faster.   Interestingly enough, through it all, the other three computers in the network were unaffected.  I fed them extra canned air and told them how proud I was of them.

How about you?  Are you ready for a crash?  Got that data backed up?  Got that book backed up?


Heather Webber said...

I'm impressed you speak DOS, and with the way you took on SRB. I'd have been a blubbery mess. I'll be going to back everything up now...

Helen Brenna said...

Deb, you're my hero! I'm knocking on wood left and right. Haven't been hit, don't wanna be hit, try to back up my current wip every day ... but I would sooo, just like Heather said, dissolve into tears if something like this happen to me.

Terry Odell said...

I've had crashes. We have an external hard drive but it's not hooked up in the new house while everything is in chaos. I use Dropbox to back up writing files, and I email my books to my daughter in Ireland. I use flash drives. I keep files on my PC AND laptop.

But I don't back up enough. I know it. I'd have been a blithering idiot.

Playground Monitor said...

I used to speak DOS. I used to speak German too. But when you don't use them, you forget them.

I have an external hard drive that has my documents, pictures, music, spreadsheets, etc backed up on it. I also use flash drives.

It's scary what these SRBs can do. If they're ever caught I think they should be made to spend the rest of their lives doing community service. And that community service would be cleaning up computers infected with viruses. Either that or drizzle honey on their private parts and stake them to a fire ant hill.

Glad you had Bijan to help you out.


Leanne said...

Deb, you are such a warrior woman! I want you on my side!!! Last week wasn't my funnest either. My hard drive crashed. I had not backed up appropriately, but Bill-the-computer-guy was able to save my stuff. That's the good news. The bad news was my hard drive had a blip and couldn't be brought back to life. I had to buy a new laptop and I didn't want to have to do that. I'm now making friends with my new laptop. I like windows 7 much better.

Michele Hauf said...

Deb, I just backed up all my writing files!

I tend to think I'm safe because I'm on a Mac. Never had a problem, ever. But like you, I know it can happen. Urg.

Glad things are back in order with you computer.

Debra Dixon said...


Thank you! And I'm glad I'm inspiring you to polish up those backups.

Knowing my backup situation wasn't a mess made the incident easier to deal with.

Debra Dixon said...


Our computers are part of our sense of "self." It is so personal in addition to torpedoing your productivity.

I think the accountant in you is who backs up everyday. (g)

Debra Dixon said...


I applaud all your back up resources!

Yes, we use an external hard drive and we have offsite back up, since we have folks in different locations, but it's not a daily backup. The external is the daily. In the event of a fire we can grab the external and go.

We also park things on Google which provides software in the cloud.

Debra Dixon said...


I vote for the fire ant hill. My production guy said that if he was every on a jury for one of these guys he'd have a hard time being objective about anything. Recommended punishment would be very bad.

Re: Dos
I knew there was a reason I immediately liked you!

Debra Dixon said...

Leanne-- Yikes! I'm sorry you had to deal with that last week. I totally feel your pain.

I'm hearing good things about Windows 7 but we have too much legacy (old) software to switch.

The company would have to invest in a completely new publishing operations and royalty software.

Debra Dixon said...


Bijan was talking about that. Lots of Mac folks are less obsessive because they don't have as much virus activity, but where they get slammed is on hardware failure.

That sneaks up and bites them in the butt. Mac's a good product but all hardware fails and corrupts from time to time. So, he does see Mac folks in the same situation.

Plus he told me about the manual update routine since I didn't know that Apple wouldn't do every update automatically.

Michele Hauf said...

I love macs, and will always have them. But you're right about the hardware. Once something goes bad, it's dead. But then that's just a great excuse to buy a new computer! :-)

Michele, who doesn't need a new one, because this current one is only a year old.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Deb, I just just signed up for external backup through comcast. i was going to use the service Ed Schultz advertises on the radio, but figured that since I'm already with comcast, might as well use that. It runs backup daily. I'm not good about cleaning old stuff off the computer. Kind of a pack rat on all frints, I guess. I have used PC Web Doc a couple of times--remember, a guest on out blog ages back--and that really speeds things up.

Cindy Gerard said...

go, Deb. Get that Rat Bastard!

I have Carbonite for backup and I'm praying that's enough because I'm really lax about backing up on a flash drive. I must get better!!

katsrus said...

How awful for you. Glad you got things working now. I just had my LCD screen quit working & had to hook up an older smaller screen. Hate when stuff happens.
Sue B

Debra Dixon said...

Sue B-- Old monitor! Small screen! How easily we become spoiled. I'm right there with you.

It's like being given scissors and told to cut the yard.