Why a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing

By adweston ยท 39 replies
Dec 31, 2008
  1. Yesterday we had a client bring in a desktop that wouldn't boot.. His teenager nephew had gotten at it over the holidays...and...well.. Completely destroyed it.

    With the help of bittorrent, limewire, etc, he demolished this guy's previously perfectly working computer. It was filled with infections, he had stupidity like spybot and stuff on it that begged for input if you even sneezed at the computer, the antivirus install that was on it was totalled..

    He put firecrap on it because every teenager wannabe tech has to do that.. Totalled the Internet Explorer browser, totalled the task bar, demoed the control panel, trashed the Windows Installer. Being the brains that every young punk is, he disabled System Restore, disabled several key Windows services and got an infection which stripped the Admin accounts of their user rights. Oh.. And totalled the registry to boot.

    Then.. To top it all off, tried to put SP3 on it. The end result? Because it was an HP AMD computer, it blue screened and started rebooting repeatedly (Intelppm.sys)... Which ultimately totalled the partition.

    The long and the short of it? After hours of work, drive repairs, numerous repairs, repair installations, etc trying to undo all the damage the nitwit did, it still isn't perfect and will need to be backed up/reinstalled.

    So.. Yeah.. If any young kid tries getting on or at your computer, professing to be a tech.... Lock your computer down. Keep them far, far away...

    .....because a little knowledge is absolutely dangerous.
  2. Ididmyc600

    Ididmyc600 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,415

    How very very true, this is prevalent in all walks of life, ive seen houses burnt down because of bad wiring because someone told then it was easy to do, ive heard stories of failed DIY causing untold problems in homes requiring expensive professional repairs.

    I blame B+Q and the like for their attempt at making DIY easy for everyone, when all they did was make trouble for people who start a project that they cant finish.

    PC's are as complicated as fitting 3 phase wiring but people still want to have a go at doing it.

    My advice for this chap is to charge his nephew for the damage and hope he learns his lesson.
  3. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    spybot is actually a very good program. I am not sure if you mean firefox, but firefox is far superior to IE.

    Any use of torrents or P2P software is highly dangerous as most networks are unsecure. System restore should also be turned off as many viri regenerate themselves. To properly backup, backup to a second device.

    SP3 SHOULD be installed. You need a bios update and/or additional SP3 updates in order to have a properly working system.

    In short, reformat and reinstall the system. Install spybot, install a anti-virus. and install firefox, and install SP3 complete with all updates and ensure your bios is up to date.

    Then lock the kids account out as a user, not an adminstrator - that way he cannot install programs and particularly destructive programs like p2p programs (bit torrent, limewire etc...).

    Not to be rude, but yes the kid jacked it up, but he also knew about some of the proper software and updates that you should also know to have on there.
  4. adweston

    adweston Banned Topic Starter Posts: 242

    First, Spybot is so 2005. It was good years ago. It's useless now. We see tons of computers infected from users using the Spybot/Ad-aware/Firefox combination.

    Second, Firefox is a pain in the tush, causes lots of grief, doesn't display half the webpages properly and is completely unnecessary. This "Firefox vs. IE" stupidity was only really valid with IE6. Since then it's been relegated to fanboyism. One reason for that is the latest infections are cross platform because they don't use ActiveX to infect your computer.. Which again is so 2005.

    Third, yes, SP3 should be installed... but not after you completely jack your system.

    Fourth, NEVER disable system restore if you want to fix problems. A proper malware solution, like AVG and Malwarebytes, actually scan the System Restore folder and remove infections. There comes times when recovering old registries is useful (like this time) and if you jack your SR then you're screwed.

    Fifth: BIOS updates should not be done to address security. They should be done to resolve system problems. There are times when a BIOS update will actually break your system, rather than fix it. It should be used with prejudice.

    There are right, and wrong, ways to address problems. This was a very good example of the wrong way. :(

    edit: The right way

    For effective security, the following:

    Free Antivirus: AVG 8. Paid Antivirus: NOD32 or Kaspersky
    Antimalware: Malwarebytes and Spyware Blaster
    All Windows Updates
    All Java Updates
    IE 7 or IE 8 Beta
    A tuned HOSTS file and Restricted Sites entry

    For more info, see this thread.
  5. MetalX

    MetalX TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,388

    He might have just been very unlucky. I run without any protection at all, and I download torrents beyond the point of sanity, and I've never had an infection like that. I haven't had a single infection in over a year now. I DO scan for them, I just don't have any real time protection whatsoever. Sometimes you just get really unlucky. I say this from the perspective of a teenager.

    However, I cannot say that poor luck was all of the story here. Disabling system restore was a terribly stupid move, as was disabling key Windows services. I bet he disabled them because he read somewhere that they gave a supposed "performance boost." As for getting infections from P2P/Torrents... they CAN be navigated safely, if you know what you're doing, and with a bit of luck. So that's why I say he might have been really unlucky and downloaded a masterfully concealed piece of malware.

    But I agree with Ididmyc600, you should advise the guy to make the kid pay for it.
  6. adweston

    adweston Banned Topic Starter Posts: 242

    It certainly is possible to download and not get infections if you're careful. I'm not going to go so far as recommending it or running unprotected... But it is definitely possible.

    I think he should make the kid pay for it too. The problem with many of today's kids is that they aren't made to realize and pay for the consequences of their actions. Thank that in part to this "feel good" stupidity, such as "no losers, no discipline" etc.
  7. ptitterington

    ptitterington TS Maniac Posts: 255

    Sorry to be a bit stupid, but surely when it is all messed up, you just wipe and start again, ok so you lose some stuff, but you make it sound like you had to have cancer treatment. Its just a PC to be played with. It is useful for work, it is a frustrating and evolving bit of kit but at the end of the day it is just a toy.
  8. Ididmyc600

    Ididmyc600 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,415

    what utter nonsense, to some its not a toy its a business tool, with accounts, payroll and banking details on them, its not a case of delete all and reinstall as you say ptitterington,

    To make a post like that is childish and immature and gives no valid input into the thread.

    If i was a mod i would i would gladly remove your post.

    Its people like you that no doubt gladly screw up PC's and then say its ok i can always just reinstall it all, dont worry about the non replaceable family photo's and videos that were on the HDD they werent important
  9. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,486   +45

    I never realized how important family photos and videos were until I got a little older, I'm 24 now and I even see the issue there.

    We also have to think about the majority of pc users have specific task they do on their pc's, they dont have to sit at them for hours. They check email, manage accounts, update information.

    To a person like me that sits here, reading books, playing games, studying for school. Sure if I get a virus I can just reinstall everything. I also have a back up drives now. I'm sure some of the more informed members of TS do have them as well BUT, the majority of users do not, Which to me makes this thread all so more important.

    Reinstalling everything is a pain for the everyday "simple" user. It shouldn't be considered easily as an option.
  10. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,177   +989

    a) ALL accounts need good passwords
    b) kids should only have LUA sccounts.

    btw; Use Safe Boot and change/add a password to the hidden Admin account
  11. adweston

    adweston Banned Topic Starter Posts: 242

    Good advice if you use Home Edition. Pro Edition asks you for a password during the initial setup.
  12. corbett_1989

    corbett_1989 TS Member Posts: 54

    I would defend ptitterington that it is a toy. Sure that computer he messed up was not only a toy, which then he should pay for the damages. But by damaging computers that's how I learned to fix computers sure it wasn't the family pc or anyone's pc but my own computer that I broke. It can be a safe bet to say that most people learn about computers by breaking them first
  13. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    True, but this wasn't his own PC, which is why he was so careless with it IMO.

    The gene pool seems to be growing very stagnant these days...
  14. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    Since joining this club back in sept, I have seen a few ill concieved posts on here but nothing quit like yours ptittergton, a few years ago, my brother in law who as Moiz might put it 'comes from the shallow end of the gene pool' decided to help himself to my "toy" ...you know, the toy that without i would not be able to do my job, the toy i do my taxes with, the toy I use to keep photos amd memories of friends and family. and he happened to do this the day after i had put the last photos we would be able to take of my wifes dying grandmother (who died of cancer interestingly enough). seems he took it on himself, without permission, to visit some porn site and download a program that sumarily destroyed my boot partition and and everything on the HDD. man I hate it when my toys get broke!
    But to show im a sport, i accept your opening apology.
  15. ptitterington

    ptitterington TS Maniac Posts: 255

    Yes this site has changed over the years, it is the aggressive attitude of you high posting newer members that has caused a lot of the older folk to stay away.

    Anyway, I think that anyone that uses a PC for any purpose where there may be a time or cost implication when data is lost, is a total fool if they do not have the data safely backed up.

    Without a kid fooling with the machine, a HD can just fail and then you have no one to blame but yourself. A home PC is still in my opinion as much a toy as a boat, a tv or a private jet. They have their uses in their different ways but no one is going to die if they get taken away.
  16. Ididmyc600

    Ididmyc600 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,415

    As one of those "high posting newer members" i can tell you that i would disagree with the points you raised (see my earlier post) im a high poster because i answer and inform people with a high degree of accuracy and although i may be new (ish) too this board ive been working on them since DOS was first introduced both to the workplace and the home.

    I do agree that people do need to learn to backup sensitive data, however this is only done by those who are taught to do it or know better.

    As for putting cancer into your ill conceived post this is something that i hope you never have to deal with as many do, because when the time comes you'll understand why.

    This is all i have to say on the subject.
  17. ptitterington

    ptitterington TS Maniac Posts: 255

    If i was a mod i would i would gladly remove your post.

    Where to start

    Well I wont bore you with the detail but I refer to cancer as it is a daily companion now.

    The reason for my post was, as I dont post often but hang around here, the use of phrases like
    Completely destroyed it.
    he demolished this guy's previously perfectly working computer..
    demoed the control panel, ??? what does that mean English maybe second language?
    He put firecrap... there was a time here when that would have been deleted....

    )... Which ultimately totalled the partition.

    To most folk, it would sound like a kid stoke a computer, drove it around like a car and basically wrote it off possibly killing some innocent folk...

    Er no He messed up a P.C.
    There was a time when folk were asked to post accurate info.... ahh the old days.... Boby come back
    Ta Peter
  18. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    Just because forum lingo has changed (and you haven't, apparently) doesn't give you an excuse to bash the mods and what they do on these forums. If you don't like it, stop bitching and go away.
  19. ptitterington

    ptitterington TS Maniac Posts: 255

    Who is bashing the mods, I have only offered an alternative viewpoint from the perspective of a long time member. I am sure that eventually everyone will converse in a bastardised version of the English language that was once great!
  20. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    To paraphrase ptitterington;

    Surely, if you have been responsible and backed up your data routinely and passworded your access properly and it STILL gets messed up, you just wipe and start again.

    Ok, so you lose some stuff, but you make it sound like rocket science! Its just a PC. It is useful for work, it is a frustrating and evolving bit of technology, but at the end of the day, if properly used, it is just a tool.

    You folks with the fast tempers wanna jump on me too?
  21. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,334   +36

    The kid had enough knowledge to press keys on the keyboard, nothing more.
    But I have to take you to task for this very thing:

    For instance:
    I think "your" lack of knowledge may be dangerous! I've been using Firefox since the public release- over 4 years. It has not caused me either pasin or grief! It works very well and is very safe> v3 came with the 'no redirect' feature. While this may be a minor nuisance at times, it is also a safety issue- you have to SET IE not to allow redirects!

    The comparison of Firefox and IE is valid through IE7 also. While IE7 may be somewhat better than it's predecessor, it is not as customizable as Firefox.

    As for the kids trashing the system, he didn't even have a 'little knowledge'! He had no respect for someones system, wanting to do only his whims. He showed gross lack of knowledge in the things he did. As for trying to get SP3, he likely found himself in such a mess that he was reaching for anything he "though" might fix it!

    To the person who said this:
    I hope someone has the sense to take your "toy" away! Maybe when you're gown up, learn respect and get some sense of value, you can get it back!

    CCT, I'm surprised at you for 'paraphrasing' this comment. Toys stopped with Fisher-Price! Am I the only one here who known the value of a computer system, has respect for what it can do and treats it well?
  22. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,177   +989

    Opinions: Like a nose, everyone has one.

    Not everyone chooses to pick one :)
  23. Technochicken

    Technochicken TechSpot Paladin Posts: 729

    If that were true, i'd have screwed up a lot of computers pretty badly by now :rolleyes:
  24. computernerd

    computernerd TS Rookie

    It's understandable that you're annoyed about having to fix a screwy computer, but the "oh these kids today" bit is very, very unnecessary. You sound exceedingly arrogant. It's the 2000's, your age has very little to do with your intelligence nowadays.

    For instance, I could go on endlessly about your ridiculously misguided opinions about Firefox and Internet Explorer, and blame it on the fact that you're old and out of touch or something, but I won't. Because it sounds stupid.

    Don't be so quick to get angry at people on such thin grounds. You say Spybot is 2005? Well, "stupid kids don't know anything" is 1955. If you hadn't started blindly screwing around with computers at some point, you would have no idea how to fix them today. Be less hot-headed and more open minded.
  25. corbett_1989

    corbett_1989 TS Member Posts: 54

    What about the uncle? You all get pissed at the kid for messing with it and keep saying that the pc is a fragile little thing? If it is that important don't you think the uncle would keep better taps on it? Sure I consider my pc a toy and a research tool but I lock it down before I leave the PC everyday from my famiy. As for kids mess everything up. I have seen grown adults format their enitre harddrives because they could not connect to their work places servers. So its not just a age issue here.
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