Last night I booted my home machine. It started ok, but once I logged on it was dog slow. “Whut”, says I, “this is strange”.
Task Manager showed that one process, InoRT.exe, was using 99% of the CPU, but there’s no hard drive activity. InoRT.exe, that’s supposed to be the antivirus program. Hm, this is suspicious. I reboot, and still see the same symptom. At this point I’m more annoyed than worried, because I actually backed up everything interesting just this weekend.
Now I disable the network connection and let the process run for a while. No change. I then kill InoRT.exe; start Spybot S&D to scan; enable the network connection again so I can get updates for Spybot S&D (when did I even run that last? Can’t remember); disable the network connection and start scanning. The scan shows one entry I’ve never seen before:
n-Case is it? Never heard of. I start my second machine to do some research, and find plenty of references to it – turns out it some kind of spyware. How did that get there? I’ve applied all patches; I don’t run as admin, and my surfing habits aren’t very… interesting.
I keep reading and learn about the expected symptoms, how to remove it manually etc. Only what I read doesn’t match up. I haven’t seen any unexpected ads on the machine. The reg key that was reported, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServices\schedulingagent, points to C:\WINDOWS\System32\mstask.exe and I can see that this file hasn’t been tampered with. I start looking for the other files that should be involved in n-Case, but can’t find them.
As I’m looking around, I notice that I’m kinda low on disk space though – only about 2GB free on a 120GB partition. Ok, let me delete some F1 races I recorded this summer…
…hey could that be the problem, low disk space…?
…so I free up 30GB in a few minutes, reboot, and – fancy that – all seems ok.
Lessons learned – 1) having a recent backup helps preventing panic, 2) don’t assume the worst, 3) don’t save old F1 races when you know that you won’t watch them more than once…
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