Monday, June 12, 2006

Fuxu hax0r

My home PC was compromised again this weekend. I leave it on all day so I can access it from work, so I'm more exposed than your average home user. Of course it's all my own fault for running XP with no proper security. I'm not completely open though: I have Zone Alarm which is pretty good for a free product, but doesn't have the level of control that I need. What I want is a totally separate firewall machine that's harder than Vinnie Jones in carbonite. I can do this pretty easily on Linux without installed any newfandangled software, except that my modem is not supported. Some genius has got it working by fiddling around with Makefiles and building the driver from the source, but following his instructions left me facing a wall. Not a brick wall, but one that would take a whole weekend and lots of Red Bull to punch through. I don't have that kind of free time these days.

So for a while I was stuck with this horrible nagware that hijacked Internet Explorer and launched lots of pop-ups at regular intervals. Luckily I took an image of the whole disk last time I did a re-install using SelfImage [oh dear - site is down]. It's also handy that I have 2 disks in my PC. Using the uninfected one I can boot into a separate install of XP and use SelfImage to write to rollback the infected disk to a safe state (by virtue of the fact that I took an image after installing XP and my fave apps). Had I not had the spare disk to boot off, I would have started looking at bootable Windows CDs like this one.

Tip for if you do have to use SelfImage to restore a disk: I had to disable it in the Device Manager first (requires restart). This hides it completely, but then you enable it again and are able to write to it. Otherwise SelfImage complains that it can't access it.

So I'm off to investigate ADSL modem support in White Box, Ubuntu and SuSE and then I'm just going to buy whatever works.

By the way "newfandangled" is Claire's word. I like it.