Close Encounters of the Malware Kind, or: How to Kill your Computer…

IMG_0562Tuesday morning started off like any other Tuesday morning here in N.E. Switzerland. By eight o’clock I was at my desk overlooking the woods, sorting through the new emails, deleting the junk ones, saving those that had to be answered. First on my main email account, then on gmail.
Then I turned my attention to the spam folder. Six emails were here, more than usual. One wasn’t spam so I shifted it to the proper place, and then…

It was Catherine Aird who said: ‘If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.’
Last Tuesday morning I managed to be both. Almost simultaneously.

The horrible warning bit first. We all know how to empty the spam folder, right? We use Ctrl A to mark the emails, and then we hit Delete. People, do not ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, do what I did and start deleting them per mouseclick. There I was, half my brain switched off and the other half thinking about something else, click-click-delete, click-click-click – ‘Oh *?*! – that one’s opened, OMG what have I done – quick, quick, delete, delete…’

Too late.

11899896_10205030912188841_6289837572035845758_nEvery last file on my laptop was mashed. Instead of the photo of Maroni on the desktop I had the black screen of death with dozens of weird icons. The dropbox was mashed too, and so was the memory stick from my camera which I’d left in the pc. Panic ensued. Time to phone my son, a qualified IT technician.

Son 2 was on side immediately. It isn’t every day your mother calls with such an interesting problem at breakfast time. He had a look using one of those remote team programmes, then rolled his sleeves up.

IMG_0561Now for the good example bit. As well as in the dropbox, I have my writing on sticks. Six of them. (Okay, maybe six is a wee bit OTT.) One is backed up every day, another two every couple of days, the rest every week or so. So in the middle of being totally stressed out, I knew I still had my important files.
And of course, mashed files are all in a day’s work to the dropbox support team. As long as you can provide a link to the ‘event’ – I wouldn’t have known where to start with that, but Son 2 was onto it straightaway – they can do a Rollback and return your dropbox set to a time in the past. Huge thanks here to Piper and Dean at Dropbox Support for their excellent work.

So what did I lose?
My photos. Many are also on WordPress, FB, Twitter, or with other people, so they’re not gone forever.
My list of useful websites. Several hundred of those to re-find, if I need them. My list of favourite music on Youtube. My collection of bits and pieces that was only on the desktop of the infected computer.
And most of all, the TIME it’ll take to get things reorganised.

Is the laptop dead? I don’t know. Son 2 says not. We’ll see. For the moment I’m working on my netbook which has a screen the size of a postage stamp, but it’s #allmyownfault.

Never forget: Ctrl A – Delete. You have been warned…



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23 Responses to Close Encounters of the Malware Kind, or: How to Kill your Computer…

  1. jenanita01 says:

    Thanks for the warning! And thank God for flash sticks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Helen Pollard says:

    Oh, Linda, what a nightmare! Glad you’ve got back-ups to your most important things, but it’s so annoying to have lost the other stuff. What a useful son to have!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Susan. says:

    If you use the google chrome browser it can save your bookmarks for you when you sign into it.


  4. Bummer. Last time I had something similar happen, well, it was quite a while ago, I was in California and took my laptop to the Microsoft store. And sure enough, a virus, in spite of virus protection. Anyway, the good people at the store got it fixed. I’m pretty good about backing up, too, so no data loss, thank God. Hope everything is okay again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindahuber says:

      Thanks Christa – it will be. I was going to have it reset and upgraded to Windows 10 in the Christmas hols anyway, so that’s just come a bit sooner and a lot less controlled than it would have been. It could have been so much worse!


  5. Oh, how scary! Thank god that you regularly back up your writing. Imagine losing everything, every word. Well, I can’t quite imagine it. And sorry about losing your photos. We are all so vulnerable with our electronics, and so trusting. Glad you have a son in IT (my son isn’t in IT but he’s a computer whiz, which is a big, big help). I still don’t understand the purpose of computer viruses. I mean, why would anyone want to destroy someone else’s computer files? Just because they can? Anyway, glad it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Cheers and hang in there.


    • lindahuber says:

      Thanks Cinthia! I think it was one of those nasties that encrypts your stuff and then you get to pay to have it back. No way. Apparently they’re seldom viruses nowadays, and apparently too Windows is more susceptible to this kind of attack than, say, Linux. I’m just glad it wasn’t worse!


  6. Oh gosh Linda. How awful. I always thought the spam links were annoying but not catastrophic – thankfully I’ve always got rid straight away. Thank goodness again for IT son! Hope you recover your files X


    • lindahuber says:

      Thanks Susie. My son found out it’s quite a new kind of malware and there isn’t a solution yet, but he’s saving the lot in a safe place so maybe one day he’ll be able to fix them all. Meanwhile I have everything important again. Onwards and upwards! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So glad to hear that you have all the important stuff Linda. My hard drive recently died and my computer is currently being backed up in the local computer shop. I have to alternate between my husband and my daughter’s computers…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mercy. I had a stupid moment yesterday at work when I clicked “don’t save” instead of “save” on a last-minute assignment from my boss and had to redo the whole thing, and I thought that was bad… I am glad to hear Dropbox has that kind of recovery system. I’ve heard of malware that hijacks your entire system and requires to to pay a ransom in bitcoin for a key to have it removed, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what you had to deal with. Good luck in the recovery and thank goodness for the backups you had!


    • lindahuber says:

      It was some kind of ransom malware, Paula, apparently it’s doing the rounds here in Switzerland atm. It was horribly stressy even though I knew I was backed up. It’s so easy to click, isn’t it, and then a micro-second later you REALLY regret it. I hope you could redo your assignment during working hours, at least!


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