Prevent Autorun-driven Virus Infections

USB flash drives and portable hard disk drives are commonplace today as PCs and digital media are conquering the market. But, while ease of use and portability of the UFD and HDD [as well as their digital content] increases, the spread of malware on them also increases. There are several ways to prevent this from happening, with or without the help of an AV product.

USB flash drives and portable hard disk drives are commonplace today as PCs and digital media are conquering the market. But, while ease of use and portability of the UFD and HDD [as well as their digital content] increases, the spread of malware[1] on them also increases. There are several ways to prevent this from happening,[2] with or without the help of an AV product.

Case 1: Clean PC+AV, Infected UFD/HDD; Automatic

This is the easiest, though not necessarily the best solution[3] to detect and clean autorun-driven malware.

  1. Update the anti-virus product on your computer before plugging in the portable drive.
  2. Do not open your drive contents after plugging.
  3. Scan your portable drive for malware immediately.
  4. Clean all infections found by your anti-virus.

Case 2: Clean PC, Infected UFD/HDD; Manual

In some cases, an anti-virus product or an update is not available, or the anti-virus product is just not strong or smart enough.[4] We could do a manual search and destroy for the malware.

  1. Plug on the drive to your computer.
  2. Use the Folders Explorer Bar[5] to open the drive contents on Windows Explorer, instead of double-clicking the drive icon on the main window; or
  3. Right-click on the drive icon on the main window, and select Explore or Open, and not Autoplay or Autorun
  4. Look for the file named autorun.inf.
  5. Open the file using Notepad or the text editor of your choice.
  6. Take note of the line that says, open=<path\filename.ext>, where <path\filename.ext> is the location of the malware itself.
  7. Locate the malware and delete it along with the autorun.inf file.

Case 3: Infected PC

You would know if your PC is already infected when it copies the malware and the autorun files to your portable drives automatically. If your AV software couldn’t handle cleaning your system from it, or if you have none, consider browsing the Web for manual detection and cleaning procedures as different variants and, therefore, locations of them would be hard to summarize in this post. Try Trend Micro‘s Virus Encyclopedia.

Case 4: Clean PC and UFD/HDD; Prevention

Here’s the nifty part, this is based on a hack from a friend who works on an anti-virus company.

  1. Create a folder on the root of your portable drive.
  2. Rename it as autorun.inf.
  3. Right-click on the folder, and click Properties. Alternatively, select the folder, then go to the File menu, and select Properties. KB shortcut: [Alt]+F, R
  4. Under the General tab, on the Attributes section, check Read-only and Hidden. KB shortcuts: [Alt]+R, and [Alt]+H, respectively

The above instructions would prevent other infected computers from copying an autorun directive to your portable drive. It doesn’t necessarily mean an instance of the malware itself would be prevented from being copied as well. It just protects you from your own muscle memory of instantly double-clicking the drive icon to open the contents, but instead, running the malware to be installed on your clean PC.

Footnotes:

  1. ^ malicious software; collective term for viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, et al.
  2. ^ Cases assume you’re on the virus-prone Microsoft Windows platform.
  3. ^ Your AV would probably delete only the instances of the malware and not the autorun.inf file for it is intended as a convenience feature for legitimate software manufacturers. You could safely delete the autorun file manually.
  4. ^ This pertains to my experience with a fully-updated AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition on my classmate’s notebook, which was not able to detect a simple autorun-driven malware.
  5. ^ If not visible by default, go to View on the menu bar, locate Explorer Bar, and then check Folders. KB shortcut: [Alt]+V, E, O

UST Web Site Redesign

I was trying to check the University calendar on the UST Web site for the preliminary examinations schedule when I noticed the redesign and restructure planned for it has already been implemented. Excitedly, I saw some of the things I’ve dreamt of doing for it accomplished on the reboot.

I was trying to check the University calendar on the UST Web site for the preliminary examinations schedule when I noticed the redesign and restructure planned for it has already been implemented. Excitedly, I saw some of the things I’ve dreamt of doing for it[1] accomplished on the reboot.[2]

These include:

  • Porting the site from ASP to PHP; and,
  • Complying with the XHTML 1.0 and the CSS 2 recommendations.

A very clean design added to its beauty and usability. And, scripting features that makes the layout fluid or fixed, as well as changing the font size according to the users’ preferences, made it more accessible. Two very good steps to have been taken, IMO.

I remember checking it a day after the said reboot, the news roller was a bit misaligned in Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Safari,[3] but was rendered as desired in Internet Explorer 7. Now, four days later, after browsing it again to continue writing this post, I see they’ve already fixed the alignment problem for the major browsers with the exception of Safari/Win—now I have nothing to rant about the site being made with only IE anymore. Heh.

The new design also features compliance badges from W3C, which results to only a single markup error that is, IMO, fairly forgivable for an elaborate design and a complex site structure. That error may even be caused by the CMS[4] itself for one of its modules automatically placing a <link /> to a style sheet wherever it was inserted.

I haven’t seen much improvement in a single reboot for the site as far as I could remember.[5] The move to open source software, Web standards compliance, and accessibility with usability is, IMO, the best direction any Web site could have taken. Kudos to the Webmasters of the new UST Web site!

Footnotes:

  1. ^ when I volunteered to be a TomasinoWeb member
  2. ^ another term for redesign; from CSS Reboot
  3. ^ all on the Windows platform
  4. ^ namely, Joomla!
  5. ^ with three designs, as of now

Transformers

Ok, ok … I won’t be talking about my past EE lessons here. I’ve just watched Transformers with my uncle and cousins yesterday. I must say it was great! The action scenes, camera angles, and effects are just astounding—thanks to Michael Bay. The realism put into the mecha CG animation was amazing as well!

Transformers
Electrical Engineering. Devices used to transfer electric energy from one circuit to another, especially a pair of multiply-wound, inductively-coupled wire coils that effect such a transfer with a change in voltage, current, phase, or other electric characteristic.
film. A 2007 live action film directed by Michael Bay starring Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox.

Ok, ok … I won’t be talking about my past EE lessons here. I’ve just watched Transformers with my uncle and cousins yesterday. I must say it was great! The action scenes, camera angles, and effects are just astounding—thanks to Michael Bay. The realism put into the mecha CG animation was amazing as well!

I really cannot comment about its deviations from the original animation storyline,[1] though, for I was just a little kid when I’ve watched it. Nevertheless, it really caught me with my mouth open for the mixed comedy and action it brought on the table. I really liked the scenes where Sam Witwicky was trying to catch Mikaela Banes’ attention that Bumblebee started playing on its radio songs super fit for the scene. It was a laugh trip! 😆

BTW, Sir Abe announced about 10 hours ago that he is giving away free Transformers T-shirts! And this post serves as my entry. (email address: ajalapus at ajalapus.com)

Aside from Bumblebee,[2] I really like Starscream. Since the F-22 Raptor is also my favorite, there isn’t really any competition. I think he was the one who got me interested in watching Transformers in the first place. Add to that Starscream’s agility being capable of transforming mid-air—being disguised as one of the allies, he then transforms jumping from one Raptor to another. Oh, the deceit! 😉

Footnotes:

  1. ^ If there is any.
  2. ^ Who is probably the majority’s favorite.