I just lost 50 hours of my life, and almost 4 years of development work, contracts, proposals, and email, because of two things:
1. My generally lazy approach to backups. Really, 350GB drives are dime a dozen these days but I still rotate 3 year old archives on and off aging 20GB hard drives and a set of scratched DVDs…
2. The MOST EVIL and heinous combination of spyware and computer viruses I have ever seen. I have NEVER encountered a spyware infection I wasn’t able to clean off a computer in 2-3 hours. Somehow somewhere a particularly virulent strain of two separate viruses infected my U3 FLASH ROM DRIVE !!
YES, they were able to compromise the potentially useful, but dumb in implementation, auto-magic loading U3 utility built into my jump drive, infect the READ ONLY HIDDEN PARTITION upon which the U3 software resides, and infect my personal laptop when I transferred my jump drive to it.
Then both viruses added an annoying 9kb signature to EVERY EXECUTABLE FILE on my system. Yes, each file was infected with two viruses. THEN it downloaded an ANNOYING strain of the Smitfraud spyware and within a couple of days the computer was a mess.
I lost 50 hours so war over a two week period, while also undergoing some other personal crap, heartbreak, and a death in the family. Highly aggravating.
WORSE, and I kid you not, I suspect that the damn thing somehow seems to have affected the bios of my computer. Yes, I believe it actually flashed my bios.
After cleaning it from my computer twice, and somehow missing some tiny portion. suddenly my CD Rom drive was rendered ineffective, Yes, I can not boot from the cd rom, and the device can not be accessed in windows. Remove the hard drive and set the CD Rom as the first boot device and guess what? Nothing can boot from it, the floppy can still boot oddly.
Highly suspect, the hardware’s healthy but aging, a 3 year old Pentium 4 laptop, the odds of the CD Rom drive hald dying (the bios recognizes it, and windows sees the device but simply can’t mount any media inserted in it, or read from it) in the middle of this infection boggles my mind. If its a co-incidence, and I doubt it, its a rather annoying one.
In an odd coincidence my friend Abu Abdullah, a computer tech with 21 years of experience, was hit with the SAME type of infection independently of me within the same 72 hour time-frame, in spite of our having no connection or meeting within that period.. Being rather more 3r33t than I am it only took him 30 hours of labor to get rid of the damn thing.
Hmm.. he and I were both working on some international business opportunities.. hmm. An associate of mine in Australia with whom I’m doing business has been repeatedly hit with nasty viruses and spyware as well as heavy port scans of his computer in his home subnet..
Anyway the moral of the story is: External hard drives are as cheap as candy now, buy one or if you have the cash buy an external USB raid volume, a mirrored drive external unit. Backup, constantly, with obsession.
Two, be VERY careful. I’m usually careful enough I haven’t been infected by anything in years. And now *pow*.