Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

Discussing Internet security in (mostly) plain English

Has my family learned nothing?

Has my family learned nothing?

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Regular readers of this blog will know that I have sometimes referred to myself as Jack Bauer.  I do this for a couple of reasons:

  1. Some days I am so busy that I am doing something every hour of the day with no rest in between, a lot like an episode of 24.  I call these my Jack Bauer days.

  2. Sometimes I cut through the bureaucracy and in an attempt to get results.

  3. I like the TV show 24.

I am currently back in Canada and I am staying at my parents place.  They have a number of computers: a new Dell laptop, an older Dell PC (circa 2004) and my brother has my old laptop from back in 2000.  The older PCs run Windows XP SP2 while the newer laptop runs Windows Vista.

The older Dell PC is pretty much unusable.  It has a ton of malware on it.  My brother keeps a bunch of data on USB sticks and transfers between the older PC and his even older laptop.  I decided to scan his various USB drives and see if they were infected with any malware.

Well, it did.

I took one drive and stuck it into my laptop and scanned it with my Forefront Endpoint Protection (shameless plug but it is a good product).  The one USB drive had 1400 files infected with malware (fourteen hundred, that’s no typo) and over 75 distinct malware infections!  I gasped.  I could not believe how much malware was on that thing.  Here I am, a computer security expert who preaches about the need for antimalware protection and my own brother is infected like the dickens.  I have clearly failed in preaching my message to the people closest to me.  I cleaned up the memory stick and did the same thing with the other three.

The Dell PC is pretty much useless.  My plan is to backup all of the data onto an external drive, clean it on my laptop, format the hard drive of the PC and then copy everything over.  I’m then going to install Microsoft Security Essentials.  I cannot download anything like that now and clean it because I cannot connect to the web.  It’s way too slow and unusable, and Internet browsers (neither Firefox nor IE) work.  The older laptop does not connect to the Internet (I don’t have a network card for it and who uses dial-up anymore?) but I should get that thing formatted, too.

Remember back to 24, season 5 or 6 when it turns out that the hero of the series, Jack Bauer, has a brother?  And it turns out that his brother was a villain?  The antithesis of Bauer?  That’s kind of how I felt, me being the anti(spam|malware) crusader yet having a brother who is unaware of the security risks he posed.

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I did a little bit of digging and it turned out he fell victim to rogue A/V – a popup that says that their PC was vulnerable to infection and that they should download protection for their system.  And of course, wanting to keep their system secure, they were tricked.  <sigh> Fricking malware writers…

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  • I found that a combination of free AV (AVG, Avira, Avast, MS Security Essentials - pick your favourite :-)), hosts file (http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm) and taking away their Admin account work extremely well for keeping the nasties away.

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