Monday, August 10, 2009

Word of Warning RE: the Microsoft Network

Goodbye Again Friends,

Something is fishy in Denmark.

I can but can not access the internet. My machine has been experiencing some very odd behavior that I feel anyone using a PC should be made aware of. Obviously right now I am online, as I have posted this, but to do so I am forced to reset my security settings so low that any of those invasive malware programs that do not exist in MSN's browser software et al have free access to whatever servers they do not connect to from my system. This is unacceptable. And I'm more than a bit miffed at the situation, which I shall outline in more detail below.

Long story short Microsoft (as I previously mentioned they are my Internet provider) somehow got through my firewall and installed something on my system that I never gave permission for them to do. Considering I do not use their MSN Browser, instead preferring the simplicity of logging in via IE or Firefox, my initial discovery of an inability to log in had me calling tech support. Despite assurances that all I needed was the newest version of the MSN Browser and everything would be fine once I downloaded it- which is a load of BS but then that's the problem with outsourcing to foreign countries, these people don't speak English as a first language and thus are incapable of comprehending simple facts spoken to them in simple terms like: I'VE TRIED TO UPDATE AND AM UNABLE BECAUSE I GET MESSAGES SAYING MY OS IS NO LONGER SUPPORTED. They keep insisting. So all you can do is let them feed you their line of BS and hope.

But that's not what really annoyed me. What annoyed me is discovering, after a bit of kludging around, that Microsoft managed to hack past my firewall and install something on my computer. Let me repeat that. . . My service provider, the people who take my money every month, appear to have hacked into my system to force an "update" on my machine that effectively CRIPPLES my ability to access the service they are taking my money for.

I could be paranoid but the facts seem to support the theory that a forced "update" was executed on my machine to disable it. My first clue, as I may have mentioned in my earlier post, was noticing something trying to load on my system. It was attempting to force, I thought, a shockwave update. Now I've never figured out how to block these. These updates circumvent my firewall, actually they don't even register they just seem to start and my only clue is everything suddenly slowing down to a crawl. I've observed this many times, usually only during those few times I am forced to lower my security settings. Thus my only, and best, defense against them has been to surf the net with my security settings set to high. Alas when you log in to check e-mail and such you have NO CHOICE but to compromise your system and lower your security settings. My best guess is Microsoft used one of these times to hack into my system.

Now "hack" may seem like a harsh word to use. But read on.

Long story short a program downloaded onto my system in the Shockwave directory a few weeks ago. I discovered it was there because it was loading during boot-up and instantly attempting to access the internet. The only reason I was aware of this is because I have dial-up and have my system set up to manually dial in, thus the dialogue box for dialing out kept popping up for no reason. Took me a while to figure out what the problem was. What I had to do was manually find and delete this mystery file, including it's registry key. I forget exactly what it was called but I think it was something like POSTUPDATE.EXE. Shortly thereafter my problems began. Obviously I did not find and remove this invasive program in time.

Currently there is a way for me to access the Internet, but it's round about. Considering this is a paid for service which is suddenly being denied with absolutely NO forewarning AND my IP installed something on my system without my consent I find this disturbing. I am NOT a happy customer.

For those thinking this is a overreaction consider this: There is a program that now wants to run on my system: LOADQM.EXE. This is an important fact because I stopped using MSN Browser because it had too many programs wanting open ports through my software firewall. (And I don't use IM.) Now the most invasive of these programs, one which I PHYSICALLY REMOVED FROM IT'S DIRECTORY AND PLACED IN A ZIP ARCHIVE was, you guessed it, LOADQM.EXE.

So since I removed this program it shouldn't be running on my system. So how did it get back ON my system? Remember my OS is no longer supported. That means no updates. If I can't update then how did this program get back on my system? I do not know.

Nor do I know what the purpose of this program is. I do know it kept crashing my system and giving me blue screens as it was constantly trying to worm it's way through my firewall, despite me denying it access, which was why I removed it. Yet now it's back on my system. It is, I think disabled again. And, surprise surprise, that seems to be what was slowing everything down. Was it because it was forcing ports open through my firewall and doing. . . Something?

Again I do not know. According to Google this is a program associated with IM. But that' a load of BS. IM is non-functional on my machine. I do not use IM. But even if I did IM appears to currently be disabled. Besides the information I can find claims it's some sort of auto-updater, again BS as my OS is no longer supported. A fact Microsoft seemed intent on driving home to me by crippling my system. Which makes me wonder what other invasive programs they might have placed on my machine, all while CONTINUING TO TAKE MY MONEY for a service they seem to not want to provide to those of us using older OS platforms.

What's up with that? I paid good money for this computer and the software that came with it, brand new I might add. The OS has never really worked. Has Microsoft ever apologized for releasing barely functional OSes that crash over 50% of the time? Issued a single rebate? Used any of the information that we are forced to provide them to contact us, the people they ghettoize as "end users" to help us in any way? No.

They take our money then, when you try to set up YOUR OWN PROPERTY to be as secure as possible they hack into it to install a backdoor to CRIPPLE it because they decided that it's time for you to upgrade to the newest flavor of barely functional OS? Am I the only one that has a problem with these heavy handed tactics?

Honestly if not for the fact I kind of sort of need my e-mail addy I'd have canceled this service in a heartbeat. Probably will. In the meantime look to your own systems. Be sure that your service providers haven't installed something nefarious on your machine.

Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius

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