Blacch! If you haven’t had a cold or flu in a long, long time, it’s easy to fall prey to the vain assumption that a special invisible shield is protecting your vessel, and no virus can possibly infiltrate your well-run system.

Well, the same holds true when a few years go by, and one’s anti-virus software and firewall have either kept marauding demons away, or caught infiltrators before they could enact any serious system damage.

First rule: never become heady, complacent, or self-assure.

Second rule: back up files on an independent format regularly

Third rule: do NOT click on the smiley face .exe file TWICE, and become a class A dope.

We’re now starting to upload the bulk of articles that have been idling on the hard drive for almost a month because four ugly Trojans – the evil Bagel branch – devastated the main computer that held, well, everything.

The first pair of reviews are up – Wendy O Williams and the Plasmatics, and The Wreck of the Mary Deare – and each day we’re gonna plop another handful until we’re up to speed again, along with three interviews that were held hostage by the Bagel quartet.

For the benefit of those curious or perhaps suffering from the same evil, here are some pointers:

1) if a software patch or plug-in is available gratis from the author or manufacturer’s site, don’t get it elsewhere, particularly if the file size is bigger than what’s available from its actual creator. Bigger means a potentially malevolent strain of cyber-DNA that waiting to hurt your computer

2) if you suddenly discover your antivirus software won’t load or displays an error message, you may have the sneakiest version of Bagel. Here’s what this non-poppy seed Bagel does:

- it knocks out your resident antivirus software
- it prevents the re-installation of the software and installation of any new software by corrupting the installation process as it nears completion
- it places an entry in your boot.ini file preventing you from rebooting in Windows Safe Mode
- it hijacks the browser by immediately loading it after a reboot, and forces it to go to a diverse array of junk sites mostly in Germany and the Czech Republic

In terms of your data, it seems to attack just the system files, and not your personal data (which you can still save before you decide to reinstall the whole operating system (as we did, over an entire week, due to software and antivirus re-runs for added safety and redundancy) or begin a Google search.

Type in the symptoms your system is experiencing, any error messages when the antivirus software fails, or the names of those sites you’re being hijacked to, and some primary tips should pop up from various sources.

We found info at the following links,27725,backpage=

but there’s a major caveat we gotta impart: some help posts will name other antivirus software that might fix your problem, and you’ll note you’ve never heard of them before. Some offer free scaled-down versions and might find one facet of the infected files or infiltrators, but the results may not help. Some of these companies you may not recognize, and your radar should go up if you notice they don’t offer precise steps to fix a problem, or offer to scan but don’t really describe what you have. In the latter case, they take the hopeful one (you) through various hoops and laborious scans that will either find a problem but not offer the ability to address it, or they will end the scan on a subscription page for further assistance. Worse, some may force a Yahoo toolbar into your browser, as some online scanners mandate the use of ActiveX. HomeSite’s online scanner is safe, but others tend to take advantage of those with infected machines.

Lastly, the main problem often lies in the registry, and while even a handful of programs might find one or two traces of the virus, the registry entries will ensure it will re-propagate after a reboot, so any changes to the registry should be made with great care.

And lastly, if you have XP, do not manually force the computer to reboot in Safe Mode, because the virus prevents it from following through the boot stages and running in Safe Mode. All that happens is your computer gets stuck in a perpetual reboot, and you can’t return to your desktop. Without Administrative privileges or the exact password, you’re screwed. If you attempt an XP reinstall or repair, it has a good chance of failing because that manual by-pass still stands, and the reinstall can’t complete because the system is still being forced to boot in Safe Mode courtesy of your manual fiddling; XP can’t install or re-install in Safe Mode, so, well, you’re screwed.

If you use XP, and your hard drive was formatted in NTFS, Windows 98 (either FAT16 or FAT32) will NOT see that drive, so you can only retrieve data using a system with NTFS. Our decision was to buy another hard drive and reinstall everything, as our decision to force a Safe Mode reboot made it impossible to access the damaged operating system.

We hope the above info will help others who have succumbed to the ills of the smiley face Bagel, and wish them luck, because boy, you’re gonna need it!

Coming next: A 4-disc doc on the Black Panthers, Crank, Saw III, and more!

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