A Windows 10 'virus' crippled my Internet connection (and I want it back!)
Ah! The joys of living on a tropical island. The sun. The sand. The surf... ing the web with high latency on a clogged Internet connection while paying through the nose for capped bandwidth. Yes, it truly is "paradise" -- unless, of course, you’re a seasoned Industry Analyst trying to get some work done over said connection. Which is why the latest bit of Windows malware to grace the PCs of my bandwidth-hungry teenagers has me absolutely livid.
Dubbed the "Massive Payload Virus" (MPV) by experts, this malicious code is designed specifically to cripple metered Internet connections by plastering any fully-activated Windows 7 or 8 system with gigabytes (over 3GB per PC, in my case) of data. The enormous download (which also appears to be code of some kind) is then spooled into a single, cleverly named folder in the PC’s root directory, where it lies dormant until triggered by an as yet undetermined external event.
The most insidious part of MPV is how it resists cleaning. Any attempt to remove or delete the mysterious folder results in the virus downloading even more code, thus protecting itself from being exorcised by ensuring the integrity of its payload. Basically, you’re stuck hosting this code until it activates.
Note: Unconfirmed reports talk of massive damage when it does activate. "You won’t recognize your PC" is an oft-quoted complaint. Others have speculated it’s all part of a devious plan to force customers into a schedule of monthly or yearly "ransom payments" -- all for the continued "privilege" of using their personal computers.
And this is where the truly malicious aspect kicks in. Because I live on a small, developing world island (Mauritius), my options for Internet access are limited. I can go with the local telecom monopoly (recently taken over by France’s Orange network) and pay outrageously for a metered (20Mbps Fiber with a 100GB traffic cap) connection, or I can switch to one of the upstart wireless providers (Emtel now offers a fixed line-of-sight solution for a similar price point) and hope they don’t decide I’ve violated some "fair use" policy down the road.
Either way, I’m left counting the GB and playing QoS "bad guy" as I proactively throttle my kids’ Internet usage (a few good Steam-powered gaming sessions by my daughter would easily blow the bandwidth cap in a matter of days). So when something comes along and throws this precarious arrangement out of balance -- like MPV’s repeated 3GB+ downloads -- I’m particularly annoyed.
As it stands, I lost the bulk of my Internet throughput (Orange throttles me down to 2Mbps if I use over 100GB) before the month was halfway gone, and I’ll have to wait until the next billing cycle before I’m restored to full speed. In the meantime, my children’s PCs are effectively held hostage -- even a clean install of Windows 7 or 8 won’t do the trick as the underlying infection vector remains unpatched by Microsoft (Windows 10 seems mysteriously immune to MPV).
Bottom Line: The Massive Payload Virus has ruined my Internet connection. If I leave it alone, it may eventually activate and do irreversible damage (while leaving me hostage to the author’s demands). If I remove the payload, MPV will just re-download it, clogging my already congested Internet connection and eating away at my precious bandwidth cap.
I’m truly at my wit’s end with this one. Perhaps it’s time to start thinking outside of the Microsoft box: "Hey kids, have you heard about this Linux thing? They say it’s all the rage with the super cool hacker types".