Retirement Community Computers, brastk.exe and AntiVirus 2009

Malware shows up in the most unexpected places. One of my previous colleagues regularly considered the idea of computer infections ridiculous, but wired Windows systems really are ubiquitous. And this last week’s Thanksgiving trip provided another location to observe computer malware effecting unsuspecting Windows users.

This year’s birthday celebration for our 92-year old grandmother was fantastic at her new home. Singing, dessert, multiple generations of our family were together for the holiday and grandma was in a great mood in her new digs.

In the meantime, a few of us celebrants, full of pizza and cake, left the party to check out the community building — the pool table on the fourth floor, pianos on the first. After knocking an 8ball around the pool table at 8 p.m. in the relative quiet of the home, we noticed a computer center along the way back to the elavators. The monitors in that center could not have displayed a more disappointing screen.
Next to a little “M” square in the system tray (a competing AV product that will remain nameless here), was a large red circle with a white X through it and a familiar fakealert bubble caption containing a frightenting message about an infection and loss of privacy: “Privacy Violation Alert! Antivirus 2009 detected a Privacy Violation”.

A quick look at the registry and taskman showed a spambot, the brastk.exe fakealert downloader, AntiVirus 2009, and a vundo component all installed and running. The brastk.exe downloader, one of the most familiar fakealert components that is being prevented in the ThreatFire community, was running full bore. And the Vundo dll locked up the CPU from within the explorer process. Add a half dozen ads open in half a dozen hung Internet Explorer windows, and the system was unusable.
There were various poker game shortcuts on the desktop, so I’m guessing that one of the senior citizens looking to play a game mistakenly installed a package of malware on the system, assuming that the free software game was innocent and the system was protected.
For a group of elderly that don’t know much about technology but want to use it, this is very disappointing and discouraging.

Along those lines, the recent unusual and severe Mytob infection bringing down several british hospitals (the London Chest Hospital, the Royal London Hospital and St Bartholomew’s) highlights the need for layered security as well. Malware is as ubiquitous as the PC itself.

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