Writer vs. Malware: A Cautionary Tale

November 29, 2011

Yesterday was a dark, dark day. There was rain. There was lethargy. And there was malware. This is a cautionary tale.

Monday’s suck as a rule, but the Monday after a holiday presents a whole new level of suckage. Of course, I face a post-holiday Monday with my usual Pollyanna attitude. Yeah! Time to eat better, get back to exercising and writing. And while some post-holiday Mondays end up productive, most tank…hard. (Those Mondays you’ll find me under a blanket on the couch watching a romantic comedy and eating junk food.)

Yesterday started off like any other post-holiday Monday. I had big plans…HUGE! After all, I FiMyFuNo’d my way to the end of my manuscript, leaving three measly chapters to write. If I pushed, I could make my goal. I woke, ate an apple and a handful of almonds, did two miles on the treadmill while watching Kyle Chandler, showered and then sat at my desk where I scored some Cyber Monday deals (all good so far). I posted Tari’s blog entry and shopped some more when suddenly an error message popped up, claiming I had critical hard drive issues. Listen, you DON’T tell a writer who is a half-assed backer-upper that she has hard drive issues unless you want panic to ensue. So I did what they told me to do. I scanned my system with their nifty looking “System Fix,” and yep, you guessed it…it was the wrong thing to do.

Fortunately, I didn’t buy the full version, which required a credit card number. (Nice, huh?) But I didn’t have time to celebrate my savvy. My computer was hijacked. Dozens of official looking popups warned me of my hard drive’s impending doom. Worse, files disappeared. Entire programs no longer showed up when I clicked “All Programs.” Seemingly, my writing was gone.

I do backup. I have a stick in the F drive that I save to when I remember (once a week or so). I also save to Dropbox when I remember, which is even less frequent than a week or so. So while I knew I had some of my writing, the most recent—and in the middle of drama, seemingly most important—chapters weren’t there. Oddly enough, I didn’t panic. I used my iPad to research this “System Fix” infection, and I got to work.

Hours and hours later with my computer still hostage, I panicked. I waited for my husband to come home before I really lost it. He walked in, and I assaulted him with techy words. Rootkit. Malware. I poured wine and continued the assault. Full system scans. Logs. TDSS. I drank wine and my words returned to normal. I’ve lost everything!

He kissed me soundly on the forehead, told me to order pizza and sat in my red velvet desk chair. A couple hours later, my writing reappeared. (Not magically…it was totally him. I was on the right track, but I was tired and too close to the situation to think straight so many hours into the event. It’s not a man vs. woman thing. It’s not about being rescued…oh fine. Yes, he rescued me and my files, and I am so not ashamed.)

Last night as we watched Drew Brees manhandle the Giants (and I ran yet another malware scan…just to be sure), we pondered the where of this infection. I have updated antivirus. I am careful not to visit seedy sites (no, ManCandyMonday sites do not count as seedy). But somehow I wandered into the malware spider’s sticky web. Would you believe that somewhere could have been Google images? *nods*

Go ahead and read more about how thousands of images are infected with malware. (You better do it before you procrastinate by playing around with image searches to populate your site, blog or Pinterest account. It’s a scary cyber world out there, people. And as writers, we’ve got a lot to lose. (While you’re reading, I’ll be scanning AGAIN for malware…and shopping for a Mac.)



4 Responses to “Writer vs. Malware: A Cautionary Tale”

  1. katysmum Says:

    my DH definitely knew what he was doing when he bought totally no-techno me a mac. I give thanks for it daily!

  2. OMG, I got up this morning and got a mallware message. I shut down the computer, turned it back on and got the same message…this time it let me bypass the instructions, so being in denial I did just that and the computer seems to be working okay, but I am having one of my techi sons take a look at it!!

    I wonder if we both clicked on the same link or something??

  3. Oh good god, I feel for you. That happened to my old desktop years ago. I did get rid of it in the end, but it was a complete nightmare! Hope you get it sorted.

    *shuffles off to back up right now*

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