Ramblings From the Ragged Crumbling Edge Of The Reality-Based Community

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Say Hello To My Little Friend - The Rootkit Files 

...for Tony Montana (aka "Scarface"), it was an M203 grenade launcher attachment to his M16. For me, it has been KillDisk burned to a CD and launched from the boot menu. There is, it turns out, one surefire way to deal with a Win32 rootkit virus: scrub the hard drive and start over...

The freeware version of my little friend doesn't offer the full-on Department of Defense 5220.22 M standard of recovery-proof disk wiping that its own purchase version and some other disk wiping utilities provide, but it's good enough for my purposes. After spending several hours every single night for the past two week trying every imaginable thing - including sinking to the pits of desperation and calling the Dell tech service line - a few facts began to emerge from the inky blackness of my dilemma: my creaky old laptop probably wouldn't support the smallest readily available hard drive; the Dell-provided operating system reinstall disk (instead of real live XP CD's) wasn't bootable in the presence of an existing operating system; nobody I know had an XP operating system disk with a valid key; and my last straw-grasping idea of buying and installing Windows 7 was defeated because the old girl's architecture can't handle the required 1 gig of RAM. Since I really wasn't in the mood to buy a new computer right at the moment (a gadget guy I am most certainly not), I seemed to be at a technological impasse because of my inability to reformat the hard drive. That's when the light bulb finally went on...

Anyway, I'm back after many, many hours of installing and downloading, including a second rescrubbing and a second reinstall of the operating system (a word of advice: never install
everything that comes on your recovery driver disk, especially if you are using an aftermarket wireless receiver), sailing the treacherous seas of Blogtopia in the company of an entire armada of freeware and purchased antispyware...except for McAfee. McAfee is bad juju on my laptop in any case (it came as part of the software bundle and I couldn't successfully reinstall it when I put in the new hard drive a couple of years ago), and Thursday's little update oopsie would have pushed me all the way over the edge if it was working and I had installed Windows XP Service Pack 3 on it, which I hadn't. Anyway, we'll see how this goes. So, anything been happening?

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