After having written about how the malware managed to make me steal my own BCH it is now time to write about how i managed to ultimately free myself from the malware itself and quite possibly the threat of future infections.
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the first instinct i had after having confirmed that the addresses i copied were not the addresses that were pasted when i was doing withdrawals (not counting the instinct to throw the pc out the window without opening it) was that deep scans of my antivirus and antimalware software would root it out and remove it real quick. I figured, that's what those expensive suites are made for... right?
I scanned my system with avg, malwarebytes, avast, kaspersky and of course windows defender. The only one that found anything was avast, but having confidence in the product (I've used avast as my main protection for years) i was confident i was good to go.
After the scans and the assurance of Avast that the malware had been removed from my system i rebooted and tested if in fact i had been freed from the malware. To my great surprise when i copied a bch address and pasted it into a notepad it was the same address, but when i tried the same in a transaction on coinflex the pasted address was again a different address than the one i copied.
That was the moment that, actually for the first time in the existence of Microsoft Windows (i started using it with version 3.something), i decided that it lost confidence in the Microsoft product. Despite my earliest pc memories being inextricably linked to Microsoft (ms dos) and my entire career having been built on the foundations of my knowledge of the Microsoft OS's, which 90+ percent of the worlds business computers run upon it was time to say goodbye to what felt to me like a best friend. It had betrayed me one to many times. Little did i know what it would cost me. Well, to be honest the reliability of some hardware did contribute to the miserable time i had migrating to linux, but for my mental health i think it is better to blame it all on Microsoft.
Having made the decision i decided to go about it in a considered and sensible manner. No hasty actions, no short cuts. First inventoried what I had, what needed to be saved and then plan on how to go about performing the actions so that nothing could go wrong. So first thing i did was invertorie what I needed to save. Booting from a live usb (ubuntu) i meticulously went from drive to drive and noted (on paper... what century is this??) every folder I wanted to backup so I could retrieve its contents in the future if I needed it.
After that I went ahead and designated one of my harddrives to be the backup drive. It was a Seagate 500gb drive that had performed without problems ever since I've bought it and after deleting the partition on it, created a new partition and formatted it on ext4 i went ahead and started copying the folders I had noted down on paper from their original locations to the freshly formatted drive. All throughout the 400gb of data I never once had any inclination of the disaster awaiting me.
Besides the question of how that could have been possible as those three all lived at the same time, one might wonder how i figured that much was needed to deserve the misery bestowed upon me. Well imagine me finally (took me over 5 hours to copy the data to the backup drive) done with the backing up of the data i wanted to save. This included 10+ years of pictures, the ones NOT on google photos and all the other online cloud storages that automatically backup your pictures, all the writing i have done in the past 20 years (some so old they're fortunately part of the txt file archives of bbs systems project but most aren't), ALL the videos I have made on my phones in the past 10 years and the recovery phrases and codes that I've accumulated over time. That last one includes one particularly important one i failed to write down from the metamask add-in account import that (i found out later) held the EBEN tokens and well, basically everything on Benswap i owned. Save games, appdata and all those other things that when lost means hours and hours of work/play to get back if at all possible.
If you got that in your mind then imagine rebooting, after disconnecting that backup drive from the system just to prevent accidentally formatting or DE partitioning that drive, and after the reboot going on to remove all partitions from the drives, and then proceeding to the installing of the operating system. I will spare you the heartache i had convincing the damn grub2 to allow me to have 2 different OS's dual-boot (I curse the inventor of UEFI!) but eventually i had Plop OS and Parrot working and even managed to have a fresh windows 10 pro installation ready for those moments that gaming on Linux systems like proton and the others weren't able to get a game i wanted to play (like cyberpunk 2077) running.
Imagine then reconnecting that backup drive to have all those important files be placed in the locations you'd expect them to be. Then imagine, while copying the pictures, the firs file type i chose to copy back to "pictures" folders hearing the sounds
I know many of you have no idea but i know also that there are some of you that are facepalming right now. Trust me when i say that these sounds, besides the loss that the sound implies, cost me a monitor. It cost me a monitor and a trip to the emergency room (damn screen sliced through an artery) and thinking back to it angers me more than anything in the past should. For those who're still wondering what the hell i am talking about, those sounds are the last sounds an old school hard-drive based on spinning discs and read/write heads makes as it dies. It is the sound of a head burrowing into one or more of the discs and completely destroying the hard-drive and the data stored on it.
Those ticks, more specifically that trrrrrrrrr sound followed by the tak signaled me loosing everything. At least everything i deemed important enough to spend hours to copy to a dependable safe storage location before formatting and installing new operating systems. Pictures, videos of my kid, my friends, my family.... fiction and fanfiction writing i did decades ago that is not available anywhere else... (screw stackstorage!! Curse be upon you!) scanned documents from court cases that only existed digitally because of the fire of 2007 and so on and on...
And yes i can hear you from here, screaming at me for not having backups on offline media or in the cloud of everything.
But how many of those of you screaming that to me now have 3 decades of those kinds of files?
Right, until you have no budget for tapedrives or cloud subscriptions and still have backed up those 3 decades of files than shut up!
i have sent out the drive to be evaluated to a recovery company and had them send me an estimate of the costs and recoverability and they told me 60% of the data could be recovered... for €1250,-, no guarantees. Needless to say that is beyond any budget I'll be having for the next 10 years at least.
I've literally walked away from the computer and cried for a day before i fell asleep, and for the first time in decades slept more than 10 hours without interruption. I guess this issue and the roller coaster life of the past 10+ years finally ratchetted up the exhaustion above the mark where the body shuts down and takes the rest it needs to survive or something. Not that waking up was anything like a pleasant experience. It was horrible. Even worse than having the worst hangover that I've ever had. And trust me, I've had hangovers that would make the movie series seem like boy scouts waking up after a jamboree.
So it took me another 2 days of wallowing in self petty, occasional bouts of crying but mostly hiding from the universe in my bed before i could bring myself to sit behind my computer once more and try to put it all into perspective.
In some way what happened, both with the copy paste malware as with the crashing hard drive can be, and i choose to view it as, an analogy for my life. Everything is smooth going and working better than i had any right to expect it to. Until the moment that, i guess, one could say it really mattered. That's when it crashes and fucks it all up. And as it was in my life one could argue that throughout my digital life, the time i spent behind the computer and the "important" data i collected, i could have (yes should have) done more in terms of securing the files both offline and in the cloud. But other than in my life the means of backing up the files in question costs money. Either in terms of hardware or in terms of subscribing to cloud storage providers, but either way it comes with a price tag. And i couldn't fit the bill. So i did what i could, storing the important files periodically onto the most secure medium available to me. Over time though, decades in my case, that is a lot of data that you need to secure.
But, after a couple of days, i came to the final stage of trauma which is acceptance. It is what it is and no matter how much i cry and bitch about it, it's not going to get me the data back. It was at that moment i won. I won the battle and the malware had lost. Because though the loss of the data was, in hind sight, not truly the fault of the malware. And if one takes out that desperately saddening cost out of that equation, i did accomplish what i set out to do. I now have a computer system that is sectioned into 3 parts, two of which are exempt from the threat of being infected in the same way as the system i had before. As i am using only one of them to do anything even remotely serious, like mail, handling crypto, writing and other even remotely important data (the parrot os installation) which i keep completely separate from the other 2 installations (plop os for my daily driver os, including most gaming, and a windows 10 pro installation which is only used for those games plop os still refuses to handle acceptably) i have little to fear from the bulk of the malware that is out there, most of the malware being targeted at windows environments.
So even though most of what i had was lost to the copy/paste malware (which remains unidentified and could still be out there praying on anyone with Windows) and the little i had left besides that is now unattainable to me because i lost the imported account code in Metamask, i am invoking the phrase i have written on a plaque that i have fixed on my front door. I see it every time i go out my front door. It reads.
Translated it says "Chin up, chest forward, smile and keep fighting"
I'm never getting back most of the early pics or vids that i lost, nor am i ever going to get the crypto back that i lost. I'm starting from scratch now. But i started from scratch before and even though it took me a long time i did get to the point i was at before i lost it all so i can get there again. And this time i will not be loosing it to malware, because I've got wiser and no longer use Windows. So I've turned my view from the past to the future and start again. And i am confident that i can regain what i had, and do it quicker than i did before because i am now wiser for it.
In the end i still have my son, I have a good house i live in, I have a good internet connection and I have a computer system that can run most games at mid to high settings. I have my health and i have a future. So I should be ashamed of myself for complaining about loosing a few files... right?
With read.cash i still can make a few bucks a week so i can make my son a little more happy once every two weeks with a happy meal. BCH, despite my experiences, is still the best daily use crypto currency i know of, and for BCH the same goes as for my life:
And i am going to be there when it comes to welcome it into my life!
Thank you for reading this.
Stay safe and stay happy!
P.S. i heard Marc de Mesel was arrested from his home! Anyone got any news on him? The vid on youtube has been deleted. I hope he's okay!