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Thread: Dormant Worms?

  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    Nov 2010
    Portville, NY, USA
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    My daughter gave her virus-ridden laptop to my husband last year when she got a new one.(Yes she learned her lesson!) He cleaned it up and it was fine until tonight. This all happened so fast that he was a little sketchy on some of the details but from what I could gather he got a notification from Kaspersky, that was there and gone before he could even read it. That was followed by a pop-up ad type of thing telling him he had a worm and that he needed to go to a website and purchase some program to remove it. He couldn't get rid of it, even with CTRL+ALT+DELETE. That was followed by a total inability to access Kaspersky. He shut down and tried to start in safe mode to no avail. He rebooted the normal way and the pop up was still there and he kept hearing weird beeping sounds, presumably from the pop-up. He couldn't even mute the sound. Then the poor computer was pretty much disabled. He decided to trash the machine because he felt the hard drive was shot and the computer had too many other things wrong with it to put any money into it. My question is, can viruses stay hidden and dormant on a machine, later becoming active? After the initial clean-up Kaspersky had always found nothing wrong with full system scans. If we could blame this on a left-over problem from before we would be less nervous about having the same thing happen on my year old Windows 7 laptop. We are both very cautious and try to do everything we know of to prevent problems. TIA

  2. #2
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    California & Arizona
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    Sounds like malware or maybe even a rootkit.
    Not worth the effort to repair unless you have important data that needs preservation and or are unable or unwilling to do a clean install.

    If he can get Windows to initialize and run the os as far as being able to access the start menu, then have him run msconfig and kill every startup item.
    Also have him look through the taskmanager and kill all suspicious processes.
    I would download and run a scan from malwarebytes anti-malware and or Spybot - Search & Destroy from a USB thumb drive.
    You can no longer rely on Kaspersky, so don't make any other attempts to use it for now. Just because an antivirus or antimalware program doesn't find anything, doesn't
    automatically mean there is nothing still present. There are plenty of things that can seemingly hide, a rootkit is one such thing.

    It sounds to me like an effort has already been made to try and salvage the operating system without much luck.

    If it is possible, and you have the original operating system disk, either guenuine XP or OEM; Do a clean install.
    A clean install should have been done when you first got your hands on the computer, it's the only way to be 100% certain.
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

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  3. #3
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I have to agree with Clint. Any time you get a free PC, especially one with a known virus, start over. Format the HD and start again. If your daughter had an installation disk, get it and the key and reinstall the OS. If not, perhaps there is a recovery partition. Use a different PC and look for the proper method for this brand of PC to use the recovery partition to reinstall the OS. Either way, this will give a pristeen OS without any nasties. You can then load your security apps and begin anew.
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  4. #4
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbn View Post
    My question is, can viruses stay hidden and dormant on a machine, later becoming active?
    In the early days, viruses operated by embedding themselves in executables so they would load when you ran a particular program. Because browsers load programs transparently in the background to render different kinds of content, that's a possibility here. But the more common situation would be a "drive by" attack on some newly vulnerable software component (from a compromised web page), or a bot or "back door" that was left behind on the computer from some previous infection.

    If the machine is quite new, it might pay to replace the hard drive. It's a few years old already, it might make more sense to destroy the hard drive and donate the rest so someone who likes to rebuild laptops can take on the challenge.

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