Mr. Gibbs, let me introduce myself

And now a word from our hacker ...

First of all this week I wanted to correct something I wrote last week: I discussed the technique of "freezing" PCs to prevent malware changes and mentioned a previous version of Faronics' Deep Freeze, which does just that, had been hacked. The current version, which has been out for four years, has not been hacked. Faronics also has an enterprise version, which I plan to look at in a future Gearhead column.

So, where was I? Oh yes, talking about malware. The reader feedback continues. 

Zdravstvujtye! So, my friend, you thought you were going to be reading the Backspin column. Ha! You read about Gibbs' malware problems in Gearhead and Backspin, da? And you read about how he got rid of his little problem? Well, not so fast, Mister Gibbs! As you Americans say “All your base are belong to us!”

Mister Gibbs should know there really is no substitute for the "nuclear" option (you Americans are so amusing with your catch phrases and "sound bytes"). Like we say in my country "As you make your bed, so you will sleep." Well, I think Mr. Gibbs is maybe not sleeping too well.

Now it is time to introduce myself. I am Vladimir -- Vlad to my friends -- but to Mr. Gibbs I am Mr. Vlad, and he owes me money. Yes, for his mistake of not cleaning out my little friend completely I will, as we say in my country, "Pokazát', gde ráki zimúyut" (literally "have to show where the lobsters spend winter" -- it means punish but we have a lobster thing). Let me tell you a little story about how this works.

In the three-ninth kingdom ("V tridevyátom tsárstve," which is like your "once upon a time"), my little friend got into Gibbs' computer from one of the Web sites he visited or from some "interesting" piece of software he installed.

There are other ways as well, but we need not discuss how they work, but I will tell I have zero day exploit I purchase off my friend Yuri that it is better to remain my little secret (this cost me a hundred thousand credit cards, which was a lot but what I got from Heartland Credit Systems was much greater … so what if Yuri was overpaid, he will remember that I am generous when he finds the next great exploit).

Now my little friend is busy. He is sending me everything from Mr. Gibbs' hard drive. I could clean out Gibbs' bank account but what fun would that be? His bank would simply cover the loss. No, much better to just hold Gibbs' computer hostage. He is now seeing a pop-up that says the following: "My dear Mr. Gibbs, I could clean out your bank account. I could send porn to all your friends so it looks like you sent it. I could do anything I want. But this is your lucky day. You will have noticed by now that you cannot access your files. All I want you to do is pay me $10 a month and I will let you have access. Just send me a message at vladimiryourbase@gmail.com confirming you will pay within 24 hours and your files will be made available. If you fail to confirm, if you run any kind of malware removal tool, if you attempt to make any system changes your hard disk will be wiped clean."

Why do I do this? Because I can. I have lots of money and keeping an army of zombies that each drip a little money my way is better than making -- how do you say it? -- too many wave. I have more than 5,000 people doing this so it is good business. Da?

Maybe I will be on your PC next. Will you ever get rid of me? As we say, "Kogdá rak na goré svístnet" -- when the lobster will whistle on the mountain" (I told you we have a thing about lobsters). Or as you say, "when pigs fly." Have a nice day, or as we say, Do svidaniya! ("Till the next meeting.") 

Vlad isn’t in Ventura, Calif. You can send him your thoughts at vladimiryourbase@gmail.com. Gibbs is still at backspin@gibbs.com.

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