Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Someone should be put in jail.

Monday, I was infected with a virus. I received the virus at least half a dozen times, but was infected only once. Once was way more than enough. The particular variant that hit me was the new Bagle.AQ worm. According to the current press, the worm started about 8AM yesterday. I had it by 1PM local time.

What I found very annoying was the infected machine (we have two computers here at the house) had updated virus definitions on August 6. The last full scan of my machine for viruses was the same morning! And none of it made a difference. Norton AntiVirus did not find or stop the problem and was soon disabled by the virus.

Some online searching, done before the press even had articles out about today's problem, gave me some clues to look for, but not enough. I spent a couple hours running virus scans, editing the registry (not recommended for the faint of heart), and restarting the machine. I tried to use TrendMicro's excellent HouseCall program--an online anti-virus program that runs from the browser--but the virus disabled it too.

The answer finally came from loading the excellent avast! 4 Home Edition anti-virus software package. I had to do some of the work in Safe Mode, but it was worth it.

ASIDE: If you do not have an anti-virus program, I recommend avast! 4. Why? Well, the other machine uses this program, and it was not infected. In fact, the other machine has not been infected by any virus while this program was running, though it has caught some viruses. It updates itself regularly and unobtrusively. It gives very clear warnings when you do have a problem. And it's FREE! Yes, for home users it is free. First there is a 60-day demo, but it's free even after that; how much cooler can you get?

Another option you can use is to download McAfee's Stinger program. It doesn't do everything, but when viruses disable the main program, the latest version of this gem is usually updated to fight back.

Anyway, it has been 13 hours since I got the virus and the machine is finally getting cleaned by avast! as I type. The whole idea that I have wasted this much time is truly annoying, which leads back to the title. People who write and release computer viruses should be put in jail.

Update: Due to the way a virus replicates itself, you can have multiple versions on your computer. I just received a report indicating 159 versions of this 1 virus was on the other machine. This in addition to the tiny percentage I was able to get rid of on my own. Grrrr.

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