Hardware-ally transmitted disease

Yesterday I was fixing a friend’s laptop mounting Windows XP (TM). The usual software maintenance: delete ad-ware, uninstall useless software (“But that got a nice animated icon!“), and teach why a not up-to-date antivirus is like no antivirus at all.

While checking an USB flash drive I noticed a strange software. I missed it in the first time: its icon is like the Security Center icon, but when I plugged the drive in the USB port, the system gone crazy spamming “can’t find <path>” warnings.

The problem (but not the only one) was a software, Disk Knight. It was a process in the PC, it was listed in the Control Panel uninstall section and it was in the USB drive as Knight.exe (and called via the autorun). This software auto-install itself in every USB drive connected to the PC, and in every PC where you plug an infected (yes, it’s like a virus, IMHO) USB drive.

If you are unlucky and you got it, you can follow the instructions to remove this software: in English (I didn’t checked all the page content), in Italian (I used those).

It seems that some antivirus software now correctly recognize Disk Knight as a virus.

In my opinion, the real security threat is the bunch of users not knowing what they are doing, what they are handling and thinking “it’s only a PC”. To drive a car, everyone must get a driving license and pass a test: the user must know the road rules and the internals of the device that she is using. And there are too many deaths every year caused by car drivers.

But it’s my PC, it’s not a car, can’t kill people!“. Tell me that next time you get an insane bill from your telephone company (i.e. dialer), or next time you can’t access your favourite website (i.e. distributed denial of service). Or maybe tell it to people in Estonia.

Edit: In the old times, 3” 1/2 floppy disk had a write protection device to avoid virus spreading. Unluckily USB flash drives miss that feature.

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2 comments on “Hardware-ally transmitted disease

  1. Here Here, I think everybody could do with a little education when it comes to looking after their computers

  2. J_B says:

    In 99% of cases you don’t need a patent to “drive” a pc. You just need to read the manual (both of the pc and of every single software you install).
    A skilled and expert user can skip reading most manuals but anyone that falls short of being “expert” (and anyone that needs to call a friend to solve his problems surely falls in this last category) should ALWAYS do it. Most of the problems come directly from the fact that the user have no idea what is installed on his own pc, where things are saved and how to get rid of unwanted software.

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