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Coffee Break with Liz and Kate » Headline, »

liz and kate cup beigeI can’t imagine anything more technically challenging, mood-altering, or generally uncalled for than waking up on a Monday morning only to discover you’ve been hacked.

As in by a hacker. An internet bully, if you will.

When I jilted my computer screen out of sleep mode (they get tired, too, ya know), the first thing I saw was a full-size image telling me my security had been compromised: “Click here to clean up your computer NOW!!”

Needless to say, I tried to “x” out of the box, knowing full will that clicking “OK” or “Cancel” would do me more harm than good. No go, though. Another window popped up, then another. And no, Alt F4 wouldn’t work, either.

I wanted to cry. The worst part, though, was the fact that I’d left my free virus program running while I slept.

“Thanks for nothing,” I screamed at the program.

I’d had another issue along similar lines only a couple months earlier, which required a new hard drive, and the wish to walk that path again was non-existent. One way or another, I was gonna solve this one.

The first thing I did was to grab my laptop, run the “you pay for what you get NOT free virus protection” and do a search for the rogue program now running roughshod on the desktop.

It wasn’t looking good. Total Security and the hackers who invented it obviously knew what they were doing. Turned out, this program can, within 20 hours, totally wipe out your computer. In many cases, depending primarily on how long it had been infecting the system, it could be impossible to stop.

I was beginning to feel as if I was detonating a bomb and the countdown clock was doing double time.

I tried a couple of fixes that involved more of a leap of faith than computer expertise, renaming the task manager to iexplore to find the sequence of numbers intent on shutting me down as it were.

That little trick worked for about half a minute.

So I headed to my favorite office supply store (the same place I get the canned air, for those of you who read my Palooza column).

Not one to mince words, I blurted out “I have a serious issue and I need help fast.”

The always-helpful employee asked if I knew the name of the program. I told him. Which was when he informed me I was the fifth person that morning, who’d come in with this issue.

It’s little things like this that can send me over the edge, even more bent on destroying the enemy. I needed a plan.

My faithful office supply friend gave me two things to try. After asking my typical “what if” questions, he even gave me a couple of “then do this” avenues.

I had a plan now. Best case, I’d get it fixed myself. Worst case, I’d drag the hard drive to them for a full system recovery.

And for any of you who might be thinking, “why didn’t she just use a system restore date from a day or two earlier?” my answer is simple. The virus had rendered the option void.

Almost six hours later (tick tock, tick tock) I was finally running “Malwarebytes” which seemed to be scanning at the speed of snail. It took almost an hour for the software to uncover all the infections and rogue actions. But in the end, it would appear, at least, that I beat the clock.

I then went to my second task, enabling ZoneAlarm, which blocks all internet downloading (even Windows updates, etc) if there’s been no action on the internet for more than five minutes.

As I was completing this task, a Windows pop-up informed me in no uncertain terms that my firewall had been turned off. Guess I should’ve seen that one coming.

After fixing that little issue, all systems seemed back to normal. Until I sat down to answer an email and realized my keyboard no longer typed letters, choosing instead to type out gobbledy-gook.

Let me just say to any budding computer hackers out there, get a real job. Put your internet expertise to productive use, (assuming you know what that means…)  instead of seeing how many strange computers you can attempt to destroy. And if I ever find out who you are, I won’t get mad. I’ll get even.

liz pic-Liz

Enjoy your Coffee Break!

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