I have an almost fourteen year old who will admit that he is not computer savvy. What he will say is that you can find how to do anything by using YouTube. While I do agree with this statement in general, it is the case that you may not learn to do it right. You can find millions of tutorials on anything and everything on YouTube. It has also become my go to when I want to learn how to do something. What I have learned though is that view count and the correct information do not go hand in hand. Case in point, what happened this past weekend. My son had come to me last weekend telling me he wanted to "mod" his minecraft. I said, ok let me know when you want to do it and we can walk through it. Look it up I said, find how we need to go about it I said. I didn't say to do it without me. Saturday I had just come in from talking with Mom. I had been sick the night before and was still feeling like squished road kill. Suddenly I hear "WhYYY?" What is happening........MMMMOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM". I didn't hesitate but ran to the front room where his computer currently resides. By the time I got there, at least 15 pop up windows were open and more opening. Internet exploring was popping opening and closing as it downloaded more apps. First thing I tried to disconnect the internet, it wouldn't let me. I had to pull the cable out forgetting that wifi exists. It would not let me disconnect the wifi. I next moved onto windows defender where it had already taken it over and became an admin of the computer system. It took me almost 2 hours just to get it to the settings so that I could boot it up in safemode. Really 2 hours. During that time the malware was moving all the applications under the protection of the windows defender and therefore inaccessible to deleting. Five hours later I was still trying to get it under control. At hour six I had it down to 3 programs that were installed in the Apps "roaming" file that were causing all the problems. I couldn't go on the internet either as it had blocked chrome and internet explorer. I gave up for the night. I should have shut the computer down. Damn.
Sunday morning found almost all the stuff I had gotten rid of the night before back onto the computer. Putting it back into safe mode with no internet access I was able to delete the less malicious stuff. All the others were already being "defended" by the system itself. I couldn't delete it but what I could do was change the permissions and not let it get accessed by the system. However about four applications in, the malware figured out what I was doing and started to block this also. I was able to get to everything except one application. I had been able to get Chrome going again but had to be careful how I searched for anything. I could not use the words "malware", "windows defender", "remove", "delete", "virus" or any combination or it would block me altogether. I also found that the malware removal software that Chrome suggested I use could not be downloaded as the malware just blocked it. I was able to go on Microsoft and search there for "malware" without it being recognized. Now supposedly Microsoft has a program that will search for malware outside of windows defender. I was able to download and run it BUT what the malware did was go dormant and as I watch it, kept changing it's name. What it did also though was move itself out of the windows defender. Not sure why but maybe it would have been recognized there. I was able to remove about half of the programs thinking that microsoft would recognize the rest. I let it run for 4 hours. It found nothing. Really! Thank you Microsoft, why could the Chrome tools find it (couldn't remove it but could find it) but you couldn't? Thanks. So again in safemode I continued to remove files and they were hidden everywhere including in documents and in game files. By that time I was sixteen hours in. I finally went to my son and said the best thing to do was just wipe the hard drive and start over. Since the malware had also infected his steam account files, everything had to go. Needless to say he was very, very bummed. Almost 2 years of game saves were going out the door, down the drain, erased. He took it pretty well knowing and admitting that it was his fault. So, that is exactly what I did. Erased the entire hard drive and reformatted, reinstalled the operating system. Now the arduous process of downloading all his games again. We also changed all his passwords.
Now, during all of this I did call some of the "geek squad" type of computer people. Once I told them what was going on the cheapest estimate I received was $550. That was to take the computer to them. I obviously went into the wrong field. They also did not guarantee that the malware would be gone or that I wouldn't have to replace the hard drive. This is a solid state hard drive. The last guy said the same thing and basically said just replace the hard drive. He could sell me a cheap one and install it for "just under a thousand dollars". Ummm, no thanks I can buy a new gaming PC for that. This brought me to some realizations. I know very little about PC's. I hate those people and companies that write and use malware. One of them being Norton. Norton was the main problem, it had taken over and would not let me do anything INCLUDING uninstall the program. It would say "Really you want to uninstall? Sure, here go ahead and try" About half way through, nope sorry the uninstaller has quit, what would you like to do". I called Norton, for a start of "$50 and giving them access to my computer, they would look at "removing" the software, if that's what I really wanted". Really? F. U. Norton. While on the phone to them I decided to check on some settings and realized that the malware had opened up the "sharing" to allow outside control. This is something I keep turned off. I looked also at his Chrome settings and found that it had "added" a "person", really just a set of numbers as able to access his chrome. That is when we got on his phone and reset his password to his Google account. What a nightmare.
Now that his computer is set up again, I wondered why is there so much Malware. Aren't there laws? Seems the answer is Yes and No. Here in the United States there are Federal laws to knowingly write and sell software that can cause harm. The big catch, most of this stuff comes from outside the US. Loophole. There just is no way to prosecute for creating havoc in so many people's lives. So what is malware? It is: Malware is short for malicious software. The term refers to any software that is designed to damage or secretly access a computer system without receiving the informed consent of the owner or user of the system. While there are laws to protect us consumers, don't expect any solution soon.