It started with small things like falling asleep with the Atari Console running the Donkey Kong song over and over again. The tune stuck in my head until lunch the next day. Humming the song, whistling the tune, catching the odd stares out of the corner of my eye as others presented a contorted look on their face that questioned my sanity, or my I.Q. But I was young then with no sense of mortality or insanity, resilient. And I didn't have hair growing on my body in places it shouldn't. So I didn't care what others thought. They were crazy, not me. The denial led me to Play Station abuses, which I won't go into here, but even they seemed trivial at the time. How was I to know that these things were foundational building blocks?
I remember the first time I got infected. It was early 80's, home on leave from the Navy a friend of mine gave me a floppy that installed the "Boogie Man" in the boot sector of my Dad's gigantic computer. Every time we would boot, the scary creature would appear. And scared I went running. Right into my Dad's anger for having messed with his box without his permission. But then it was funny, a joke was all it was.
Fascinated though, I began to read about self replicating programs that would later be dubbed, "Virus", for their self expanding abilities that were likened to biological cells that self replicated. The story of "The Creeper" virus was first detected on ARPANET, the forerunner of the Internet, in the early 1970s. Creeper was an experimental self-replicating program written by Bob Thomas at BBN Technologies in 1971. Creeper used the ARPANET to infect DEC PDP-10 computers running the TENEX operating system. Creeper gained access via the ARPANET and copied itself to the remote system where the message, "I'm the creeper, catch me if you can!" was displayed. "The Reaper" program was created to delete Creeper. Or, how about A program called "Elk Cloner" was the first personal computer virus to appear "in the wild"—that is, outside the single computer or lab where it was created. Written in 1981 by Richard Skrenta, it attached itself to the Apple DOS 3.3 operating system and spread via floppy disk. This virus, created as a practical joke when Skrenta was still in high school, was injected in a game on a floppy disk. On its 50th use the Elk Cloner virus would be activated, infecting the personal computer and displaying a short poem beginning "Elk Cloner: The program with a personality." A practical joke. There was a sense of immunity and lack-a-daisical foolishness created in me back then that just went too far into the future. I never saw the train come into the station that brought characters like the Farooq Alvi Brothers from Lahore, Pakistan. Who found and incorporated legitimate uses for writing viral code that resulted in more than a mere joke, it accomplished a business purpose. The first IBM PC virus in the wild was a boot sector virus dubbed, "Brain", created in 1986 by Farooq Alvi Brothers. Their purpose, reportedly to deter piracy of the software they had written (wikipedia.org). And you thought Sony was the Genesis of such trickery. Albeit, the Japanese program was much more sophisticated. But true to form, the Japanese never invented anything, rather perfected everything. No, leave it to two guys with such names from such a place to initiate the "in the wild" element to viral code. Unfortunately, about that time I had turned my head from fascination that informed, to getting married, raising young kids and fascination with saving a buck to make the ends meet.
Today, the kids are grown and apparently, at my own peril, I am still fascinated with saving a buck and have become an insidious fool who has ran without antivirus all my "User" life. So, this is where I stand up in front of the group and I very humbly admit, "I am a "Viruholic". Yes, I made the word up. Because I had to. I am probably the only one like me. Well, at least with my motives anyway. See, I have killed hundreds of virus and used the worms fishing for my own one of a kind ability. And I must say that I rather enjoyed the thrill it presented me while running through the Piranha buck naked. While I got away with it. Reminds me of the Elvis song, "I did it my way". Well, he sure did, God rest his soul. But in today's day and age I find that my intention to run with after the fact utilities has put me on the wrong side of the curve and become akin to catching Whale with Bamboo. And all it took to get me to see it was a simple Root Kit contraction that has resulted in the loss of two desktops, one Laptop, two cell phones, three new desktops (returned within the grace period, of course), and "yes" I told the store they were infected (can't beat that WalMart return policy), and a fourth new purchased Dell with one replaced "can't fix a 'Bios' Root Kit no how" hard drive, a $239.00 Dell Solution Station Software Support can't fix a Bios Root Kit no how Policy, a $199.00 Geek Squad Tech Support "can't fix a Bios Root Kit no how" Policy, $200.00 worth of "software cant fix a Bios Root Kit no how" purchases, and last but not least, the wife is fixin' to throw me ( better get this Bios Root Kit out the house) curbside. Whew, did I say it was a "simple" Root Kit? I did. I was referrin' to the contraction.
Anyway, about this Crossroad I'm standing at; a friend (which he will no longer admit) has referred me to "Bleeping Computer". He, along with circumstance, has convinced me that;
without help this Root Kit is too much for me. But that there is One who has all power - that One is Bleeping Computer and the fine force of under appreciated, overly dedicated Guys with the "know how" that B.C. has been graced with. Which, is far better than the "no how" I have experienced of late. Humbly, I admit that half measures have availed me nothing and I stand at the turning point. I ask for your protection with complete abandon.
Below, please find 12 steps that I am willing, ready and able to take;
1.) I admit that I am powerless over this Root Kit and that my "User" life has become unmanageable.
2.) I have come to believe that a power greater than myself can restore my computer to sterility.
3.) I have made a decision to turn my will and my computer over to the care of Bleeping Computer as I understand them.
4.) I have made a searching and fearless inventory of my personal technical abilities.
5.) I readily admit to Bleeping Computer, to myself, and to my friend (which he will not admit) the exact nature of my wrong half measures.
6.) I am entirely ready to have Bleeping Computer remove all (well, most of it hopefully) of this Root Kit.
7.) I humbly ask Bleeping Computer to overlook all of my technical shortcomings.
8.) My wife has made a list of all persons I have harmed with my half measures and preceding foolishness and I have become willing to make amends to them all (curbside motivator at work there).
9.) I am willing to make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so may violate my 5th amendment right to not incriminate myself legally.
10.) I agree to continue to take personal inventory of my technical ability, rather disability, and when offered antivirus or monitoring softwares, promptly purchase them, or at least trial them for 30 days.
11.) I have sought through mediation (wife) and meditation to improve my conscience reliance with Bleeping Computer as I understand them, asking only for knowledge of their will for my computer and the utilities they recommend to
carry that out.
12.) And last, but far from the least of any of this experience, having had a Technical awakening as the result of these steps, I will try to carry this message to other Viruholics and to practice safe and responsible computing
principals in all my user affairs.
Looking forward to working with you all and wishing you could say the same. I will post my particulars in what I perceive to be the appropriate virus removal forum tomorrow.
Sincerely, Brad Schmidt
Edited by BradleyBoy, 30 April 2012 - 04:15 AM.