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Thursday, April 30, 2015

A tough lesson


I used to run three internet browsers; IE, the big blue E; chrome; Foxfire. I was urged to switch to Foxfire years ago, to avoid IE security problems.  I never liked Foxfire, starting with their logo. I kept it updated, but only used it to play an online solitaire game.  The author of the game program and I emailed on occasion; I would find problems with the program, tell him, and he would fix them.

I used Chrome for blogging when Google stopped supporting IE. I still use IE for almost everything. I like its bookmarking system, which I can alphabetize in a heartbeat. I never figured out Foxfire bookmarks, and still don’t know how to use Chrome bookmarks efficiently.

Last Sunday evening I was tempted by new bar that appeared on my solitaire screen some time ago, inviting me to download Mahjong, among other solitaire games. Why not, I decided. I know the source; I love Mahjong. Click.

Within seconds my computer was hijacked by an operating system whose name included “trovi.” First it owned Foxfire. It began installing programs. I tried uninstalling and was met with a message that essentially said by uninstalling this program you are agreeing to install a whole slew of other programs. I went to IE to search how to destroy “trovi.” I had to get it out of my browser directories. I could not. It was ahead of me, opening new tabs of itself.

I texted my computer geek, who essentially has not responded. On Monday I called a local service and made an appointment for a service call on Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday morning I turned the box around and decided I could disassemble the puppy myself. I took a picture. How stupid, I decided; I didn't have a computer to put the picture on to study to put all the cords back. But I certainly was thinking through my problem!



From top to bottom I pulled cords and taped them to the edge of a shelf, with a description of where in a bank of slots they went. I could have ruined the phone line connection with all my tugging, except my fingers slipped and dislocated a silly cap covering the regular push button phone connector. Fools. I cannot imagine why it has a cover; no other phone connection in this house has one.



Tom carried the box to my car; I found a geek to carry it into the store. I paid an eighty five dollar deposit and another forty dollars for rush service to jump the eight systems on the bench waiting service. They would call me the next afternoon, which they did.

I learned the aforementioned system installed over two hundred programs on my computer on Sunday evening. Given its druthers, it probably would have pushed on to the blue screen of death.  It was Wednesday afternoon, my computer would be ready Thursday morning.

We looked at the screen in the shop; a couple of icons from the bogus installs remained, and Garrett, the technician removed them. Brought the puppy home, plugged in all the cords from bottom to top and fired ‘er up. Opened Chrome, to make blogger my home page. All the tabs went to “trovi.” Tried IE. It defaulted to Bing, not Google. Sorry Bing, I do not like the program. “Trovi” was in charge of IE, too. I didn’t even go to Foxfire. I called Garrett.

He set up a remote scan and we started over again. “It’s in a registry,” I kept saying. I don’t have a clue what a computer registry is; I only know the internet information I got before I was so hijacked was to remove it from my browser registries. “I know,” Garret said. I wonder if his teeth were clenched. 

I also told him to get Foxfire off my computer; I never wanted to see that little fox again.

In the end Garret ran a half hour scan that found the last two hijackers. One was in a piece of Foxfire code and one was embedded in Microsoft.

Collateral damage is my email account. I am up and running everywhere except Microsoft Outlook, whose registry is damaged. Trying to get to the email through my ISP bombed; my password is no good. I have to call them to answer secret questions. That’s my next project.

And that’s where I've been the last four days. I have lovely pictures of Laura’s jazz ensemble concert Monday night, but first I must get the email up and running.

28 comments:

  1. Aaaaargh. Hiss and bloody spit.
    Good luck.
    And looking forward to seeing those lovely pictures.

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  2. One of the things I like about the Mac is that most (I won't say none) of these crazy viruses attack Macs. and how cruel do you have to be to get your jollies destroying other peoples computers.

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  3. Do you have some kind of security on your computer, Joanne? There are several free anti-virus programs that my computer guru son considers good - Avast, Malwarebytes and AVG. They've saved our bacon a few times.

    As for what happened to you, Elephant's Child has the perfect response and I echo it.

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    1. I have lots of security, including two of the three you cite. I won't even type the full name of this hijack program for fear of downloading it again. It's been years since I was tricked. I would email this fellow and tell him his program acquired a virus except I don't want to run the risk.

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    2. Okay, now I'm getting a little scared too ...

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  4. They should track these pricks down and water board them for a couple of days or more and finally forget to bring them up!

    I will no longer open any website sent to me from email regardless of who it looks like the sender is, and still I know I will be tricked again, they just keep at it and eventually you are not paying full attention.

    Arrrgh, I feel you pain!!

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  5. And I think the benefit to the Mac is the Hackers concentrate on the PC as there are so many more users they get more bang for the buck. Mac users should not get to high and mighty, when their system becomes dominant, they will be hacked as well!

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  6. This sort of thing scares the pants off me. If I see anything I don't understand I call Chris. His yay or nay is the deciding factor. It also means that he'll get the blame. It's a win win for me!
    Jane x

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  7. So sorry for all the problems. I hope you are all sorted soon. xx

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  8. Oh my, sometimes, I think that I should just shut down all this technology and return to paper, pen and pencil.

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  9. Hari OM
    Yup. We all get our dose at some point. This is one of the reasons I back up every two or three days, have two computers ....and still the gremlins slip in. Also all the security in the world is only as good as the last reported infection - like human antivirus, it is retrospective and it is fluke that a lot more of these invasions don't happen actually. As Joeh, said, our alertness is really the only barrier.

    All that aside, I hope the back is holding up under this new and additional 'straw'!!! YAM xx

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  10. I feel so bad for you. My son takes care of a lot of the computer issues. The new Microsoft programs are so protected that I am a little more confident. I know there have been several times with his own computer that my son was ready to throw up his hands and give up but he would finally win the day. Good luck on getting everything working right.

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  11. What a nightmare to deal with! It was amazing that trovi could do so much damage so quickly! I am paranoid about opening up anything but I'm going to be extra careful now after reading of your experience.

    betty

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  12. That is terrible. I know how frustrating and expensive computer problems are.

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  13. Holy Moley!! This makes me very glad I don't play games on my computer, also I have only one operating system.
    it's Firefox, which you don't like and I can see why, but I've had no trouble with it.
    I do have two anti virus programs which I run on a regular basis.

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  14. What a nightmare. If ever I unwittingly let some horrible application in - which I have done several times in the past - I go as deep into the guts of the machine as possible and pull it out by the roots, before deleting it as securely as possible. There are many sympathetic people out there who will tell you exactly what to do online, assuming that you can still independently get online. Just type in something like 'How do I get rid of Trovi?" and they will come to your rescue.

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  15. Well let that be a lesson to all of us. Actually, I am starting to toy with the idea of completely giving up the computer. I'll go have a nap and see if that idea fades away lol.

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  16. Makes a person leery of their own computer - knowing that just hitting a little button can have such atrocious results.

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  17. Egads. That is why I never like to change from anything. I had a similar thing happen to me with Chrome. Thankfully I was able to just take Chrome off and go back to IE. I loved how Chrome worked but not at the expense of everything else. I use a program called REVO that I use when I remove a program. It searches for all the places that program has hidden something and takes it off. I don't know if that would be useful to you

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  18. You lost me at online solitaire. I've always like that!

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  19. This is just awful. I feel so sorry for you, Joanne.
    I use IE exclusively and also subscribe to Norton Security.
    So far, no problems.

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  20. How horrible and upsetting. I once clicked on a program that claimed to do something to fix some problem I had. I believe it does fix the probolem but it hijacked a whole lot of things, and insisted on making my home page Yahoo of all things.

    I wonder if Foxfire is the same as what we call Firefox over here.

    I hope you are totally free of this pest soon.

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  21. Grrr! How maddening, makes you want to crawl through the screen and strangle who ever did this to you.

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  22. oh how frustrating, I have malware bytes which I use once a week for malicious software and I also have piriform cleaner which deletes all cookies and saved info that I have looked at on my computer. also my virus protection has a button which can scan item before download, not sure it would have helped with trovi but good to know I am always hesitant to download anything.

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  23. reminds me of when I got my first computer +/- 1997. Daughter lived in LA and screens were saying, "illegal" and "caution". My daughter's phone response was, "lock your door and don't answer the phone". Will now refresh my security systems currently running and then go outside to watch snow peas popping up. ps. door is currently locked..

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  24. I thank goodness for my partner every day and all her firewalls and whatnots that make no sense to me. She has saved our butts over and over again. So sorry this happened to you!!

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  25. That makes me so mad! I've tried installing several programs and ended up with their own version of whichever search engine, usually Bing, which I also so not like. I also end up with their bookmarks bar and can't get rid of it! I've learned my lesson now about trying to download intriguing new programs and have crawled back under my rock. Not coming out for nothing and nobody! :)

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  26. Things like this are such a nuisance, they take over your life and all your spare time as well as your browser. Hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

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