Like a Cross Between Ballet and Speed Chess

I knew I might be in trouble when I clicked on a Google search result and the page that opened was crawling with ads. Then the page clicked-over to a different site on its own: To an article in Vogue I believe. The article itself didn’t look especially threatening, but that’s not a site I visit – and most importantly, I hadn’t done anything to be taken there.

OUTLOOK.EXE MalwareEverything seemed fine after that, but later I clicked the icon to open Microsoft Word and received a UAC (User Account Control) warning from Windows indicating that a program it didn’t trust was trying to start. Any time a Microsoft application isn’t recognized by a Microsoft operating system, something is clearly amiss. I’ve used Word zillions of times with no issue like this, which reinforced that something was wrong, so I didn’t allow it to start. The same thing happened later when I started Outlook, and then Java, underscoring that I had a serious problem.

I had every reason to believe the computer had picked-up some kind of malware (malicious software) from the suspicious web site, so my first move was to let my security software do a full scan. Sure enough, it found suspicious programs on my machine and deleted them – but it mostly made the malware mad. I knew it was time to call in the professionals, so I opened a trouble ticket.

It was Friday night in the US and a technician in Asia sent me a message that he was ready to connect to my machine remotely. I granted permission and he IM‘d me with a few questions about what I’d seen. As he warmed-up his keyboard for the fight, I got to watch the action on my screen

ChessThere was something surreal about watching someone halfway around the world fighting the bad guys in my computer. It was like watching a game of speed chess as the tech opened various windows to see what was running, what files looked suspicious, which items were configured to start automatically, and more. From time to time he typed a question about whether I recognized a particular file or directory. At one point he typed something like, “This one is hard!” as the battle went on for over an hour.

Ultimately my knight in shining armor was victorious, but not without a great struggle. He worked hard to contain and remove the bad stuff while dancing around the good stuff. My experience gave me even more appreciation for the folks who sit in front of a computer all day, taking care of our issues. My hat is off to the tech I will never meet. Even though I never saw his face or heard his voice, he gave me a great customer experience.

Does any of this sound familiar? What’s your story?

6 thoughts on “Like a Cross Between Ballet and Speed Chess”

  1. Sounds very familiar with my Dell laptop when I first had it. Since then I have System Mechanic, (about $35/yr) SuperAntiSpamSoftware (FREE Version) and CC cleaner (FREE) all recommended by them. Haven’t had that problem anymore as long as I run those programs daily – they only take a few minutes. It is amazing what they can do when they get into your machine via the internet. Hope you don’t have to go through that again soon.

    1. I appreciate the sympathy.
      Certainly the infection was painful (even with anti-malware installed), but I have a new appreciation for the clean machine now. I hope yours stays clean too!

  2. I would post a lengthy reply from my laptop but I am waiting for that guy in Asia to unlock my account. I have no idea why it’s locked. 🙂

    1. I have a healthy respect for RTC (Round The Clock) support – especially when it’s my computer that needs the support. 😉 I hope you get to share a happy ending too!

    1. Thanks, Audacious.
      I really do think the “hidden helpers” (the ones we only notice when something needs attention) are some of the most important folks.

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