I'm talking about the last 24 hours, not just today.
Yesterday afternoon, I was in the mood for some inspirational music, the kind that makes you feel like putting the pedal to the metal and flying down the road. Wind in your hair and a smile on your face kind of music.
My daughter has some playlists on her computer, so she sent me to playlist-dot-com, where I started building one of my own, starting with Crazy On You by Heart. It's not quite a driving song, but it's my all-time favorite of theirs. Barracuda and Kick it Out are Heart's driving songs. And of course, there's Radar Love by Golden Earring. That's cruising music. (nodding head to the beat...)
Then I looked around for other non-driving songs that I liked, but they didn't have a lot of my favorites. They seemed to always have the song by a given artist that I didn't like so well. For example, for Gary Lewis and the Playboys I always liked (She's) Just My Style the best, but Playlist only had Everybody Loves a Clown. Ick. In the instrumental guitar category, my favorite was Apache--forget Wipeout. I found Apache by Jurgen Ingemann, played it to be sure it was the right version (they had it by The Ventures too, but that one suffers in comparison), and then added it to my playlist.
And then my daughter and I had to run off to a meeting, but before I shut down the laptop, I noticed that pop-up warning box that signals the invasion of the virus that had completely disabled the desktop computer. It says that my system is at risk and invites me to run "Antivirus 2009." I have McAfee. I closed the pop-up and shut down my laptop.
We got back home pretty late, but I got to work on a seek-and-destroy mission before the virus had a chance to invade every crevice of my computer. I got the latest updates from McAfee Anti-Virus and started running a scan, but partway through, some warning message showed up that I thought was from the virus, so I went to Task Manager to stop that application, but it shut down my virus scan at the same time. Oops.
McAfee's Security Center had a link somewhere (I have no idea how to find it again) to a Microsoft Nasty-Virus Removal Tool (my words, not theirs), and I had to have it. I downloaded it, but I couldn't make it do anything. There was something on the Microsoft website that said it updates it every Tuesday with the latest info, so maybe it will run itself sometime today. But that didn't help me yesterday.
There was another link on the Microsoft site that was a free scan of my system for viruses, so I got that running. They said it would take 80 minutes, and at 11:30pm, I didn't exactly like the idea but I really wanted my computer cleared of its invading hordes.
I waited up for it, in case it found something and wanted me to tell it what to do (destroy it, of course!).
As background, my daughter is the one who first introduced the virus to the now-dark desktop when she clicked on a stranger's message on her MySpace page. She normally will only correspond (or whatever you call it--I don't do MySpace or Facebook or their ilk) with people she knows in real life, but this stranger caught her at a weak, brainless moment, and she clicked. The message was just a series of dots, and not too long after that, we started getting pop-up anti-virus messages, and not too long after that the Blue Screen of Death came to visit and then to stay.
She recently bought a laptop with Windows Vista (my laptop and the desktop are XP), and that one got the Antivirus 2009 pop-up, which caused her much alarm, since she didn't open any stranger's message on MySpace. But within a day, her computer told her that it had found a Nasty Virus, called "Antivirus 2009" and had it trapped and what did she want her computer to do with it? She told the laptop to obliterate the darn thing, and then she sent a message to all her MySpace friends (no strangers) telling them she was deleting her MySpace page and asking them to email her their email addresses so she could stay in contact. MySpace just isn't safe anymore, and now neither is Playlist.
Well, about an hour after I started the Microsoft scan, another vile-looking thing popped up (an ad for Bank of America), so I killed it with Task Manager and killed my scan in the process. Aargh! So I restarted the scan and decided to let the ads show themselves and hope they weren't malicious.
The scan finished about 3:20am and found nothing wrong with my computer.
I got the latest McAfee updates, ignoring the Antivirus 2009 pop-ups when they came, started McAfee's scan, and went to bed.
This morning (I didn't wake up until 10:00), McAfee told me it found nothing wrong with my computer, and then Antivirus 2009 popped up in front of the status display to mock me.
I shut down my computer by way of the power button, just to make sure I didn't encourage the stinkin' virus any, and after I rebooted, I tried to check my email. But all I got was Google (my home page), and when I entered the yahoo mail address, Internet Explorer wouldn't go there. It wouldn't go anywhere. So I opened McAfee's Security Center and found something that looked like it would help, and it took me to the internet to McAfee's website, where I found virus-removal options. I chose the one where you call them up and they take control of your computer and remove the virus. It costs $89.95, and I was happy to pay it.
I waited on hold for about 5 minutes, then I was connected to Daniel, in India (do they have their Customer Service people take American-friendly names the way we had to take a French name in French class?). He helped me help him take over my computer, and while we were working on that, my house started shaking. It did three or four lunges side to side several inches then slowed to a light shifting/rolling of the ground, and then it lunged again a few more times and shifted/rolled, and then it was over. Nothing fell, not even the loose papers hanging over the edge of the desk, which is good, because I've opted not to have earthquake insurance. I heard that it really doesn't cover minor damage. It's there in case your house gets flattened--then you're covered.
I was a little too shaky from the adrenaline to type well, but I eventually got my composure back, and Daniel ran some special tools that found the "infected" files so he could delete them. One of the first tools he used showed a list of 3 bad things. The first two were Trojans, and the third was either Adware or Spyware, named, "Apache." I'm not sure I had all of those or if it was a list of what they were looking for, but that Apache was suspicious...
The infected files fought him for a while, but he had some tricks up his sleeve, and then he brought out a sword (the software has a big sword logo) and destroyed them all. After he rebooted, I gave control back to him, and he did the last little clean-up. He told me that if the virus shows itself again in the next 48 hours, I get to call back and have them finish the job.
So then I came here to tell my story and to warn you away from MySpace and Playlist. Anytime a website becomes popular, the bad guys in the world will take advantage of that popularity to use it for attacking the unsuspecting populace. And their desire to remain in your computer is so overwhelming that they'll even bring on earthquakes or other plagues to keep you from removing them.
Don't say you haven't been warned!
Update (nearly 10:00 pm):
At 9:50 pm, when I was in the living room reading a book and my daughter was playing the piano, my laptop in the family room started singing and playing music. I hadn't been on the computer since before we had watched Just Like Heaven earlier in the evening.
There were two ads displayed, describing the joys of something I was too annoyed to look at, and a pop-up warning box, which I closed. Then McAfee popped up to tell me it found some Ad-ware and gave me a few options, and I chose the one that most closely resembled total destruction. Then I used Task Manager to close the ads.
If ads reappear, I'll call McAfee's Technical Support again and see if Daniel or his colleagues can root out the rest of the evil and throw it into the lake of fire where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. If they can't, the weeping and gnashing of teeth will be in my house, and that's not something I want to contemplate.