Attacked!

Something has happened to my laptop that has never happened before. It has been infected with a virus. I “caught” it through an unsecured wireless connection at my favorite coffee shop last night. The first symptom was an Internet Explorer window kept opening and going to various sites wanting to sell me things. I don’t use IE, and actually had an active Firefox window open at the time with tabs open for gmail, facebook, my local television news, and a writing forum I was posting on. In the course of an hour, I had three of these Internet Explorer executions.

No problem, right? I finished what I was doing and went home, got distracted with family stuff and whatnot, and did not do much looking around to see what was going on. I used the laptop a couple of times, and noticed the fan was running pretty hard, which is unusual. I shut it down and went to bed. This morning I turned it back on, and started up email and a bit of surfing, when I realized the computer was playing audio. It sounded like music, so I turned it up, only to hear much more than music going on. There was a lot of ahhing and oohing too. Ouch. Opened up taskmanager and found something called zwp.exe running in processes, along with some other things. I immediately booted up Windows Security Essentials and did a complete scan. I ended up with a vobfus.m worm, and two alureon trojans (CT and CO). Nice. Turns out that all three infect via network, especially wireless networks in unsecured locations.

Someone sitting in that coffee shop with me last night was massively infected, and sharing their infection around willy-nilly. I had my firewall engaged, but that was obviously not enough. I’m going to have to look at some alternatives, as I am likely to use this coffee shop in the future when working with clients. After years of using computers and never getting a virus on one that only my hands touch, I’m embarrassed and unnerved to have gotten infected so darned easily. And it’s taken me several hours this morning to get it all cleaned up and back to normal, hours I could have surely spent doing something else. Not to mention that since I was stupid enough to use the laptop this morning on my own home network, I probably shared my infection with at least one other PC in the house, which will also need the deep clean treatment.

No wonder common users just cannot keep up. I have fixed one desktop this week that had a trojan infection the user could not fix, and last night rebuilt a netbook that had gotten infected as well. Both of these were friends’ machines, not my own. Both of these friends were so frustrated they were ready to give up, and I can’t say I blame them. I don’t know what the solution is, because it seems like even if you have all of the stop-guards in place, there is still some hole somewhere that a bug can get in, and ruin your whole day. It stinks, I tell you!