Strange message appeared on screen

Discussion in 'malware problems & news' started by pcalvert, Mar 17, 2007.

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  1. pcalvert

    pcalvert Registered Member

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    My mother has been having trouble with her computer for several weeks. It's an old Compaq Presario with Windows 98 SE. My brother was thinking that the hard drive might be going bad, so he suggested that she run scandisk. She tried to do so, unsuccessfully, and then she sent me this message:

    "I tried to do a thorough scan disk in safe mode but it stopped 10 times
    so I canceled it. Scott said that I have to turn off my screen saver.
    How do I do that? Also something very weird happened. When I came down
    to check on my computer, the screen was blank and it said DO YOU KNOW
    WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE in large letters about 1" high. It disappeared
    right away and COMPAQ came up and then the scan disk thing came back. I
    was not on line at the time. Mom"​

    I had her run HijackThis and sent me the log file, but I didn't see anything unusual. Anyone ever come across anything like that, or read a similar account anywhere?

    Phil
     
  2. Tarq57

    Tarq57 Registered Member

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    Hmm.
    Most likely (and hopefully correct) possibility is that the screensaver is active, and that some previous user, ie someone with access to the thing has typed that into it as one of the user defined screensaver options. (Under text, I think, on XP the option is "3d text, can't remember what it was for '9:cool:
    A way to find out, right click the desktop, select properties, screensaver tab, anything that looks like "text" or maybe "user defined" in the drop down menu, select settings, and see what's there. (I'm a long way from expert on screensavers, I don't use them. Ever.) It may be a bit far-fetched, but maybe during the scan process this old screensaver may have been caused to become briefly active.
    Anyone more expert have any thoughts?
    I 'spose the other option is some kind of malware.
     
  3. pcalvert

    pcalvert Registered Member

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    You might be right about the screensaver. However, my mother is the only user of that computer, and she is the only person in the house who knows how to use it. In addition, the HDD was formatted, and the OS reinstalled, in early January. So, looking at the situation from that perspective, the probability that the message is the result of a intrusion or infection is very high.

    Phil
     
  4. Tarq57

    Tarq57 Registered Member

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    I'd get her to try running Superantispyware (free version).
    It's compatible with '98.
     
  5. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    It seems to me that this is malware with a sick sense of humor, where else could it come from and you don't need to be on-line in this case.
    Keep in mind that screensavers are executable programs and not images.
    A program can do anything with your computer.
     
  6. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    It's possible that it came bundled with some legit program. I'm only guessing though.
     
  7. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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  8. pcalvert

    pcalvert Registered Member

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    Unfortunately, none of those links are helpful. "Do you know where your children are?" is an old and common saying. I believe that it was commonly announced on radio and/or TV years ago as a kind of public service announcement every night. It went like this: "It's ten o'clock. Do you know where your children are?"

    Anyway, a friend tells me he remembers this from a scene in a horror movie, so it seems highly likely that its appearance on my mother's computer is the result of malware or a prank program. In fact, my friend thinks the computer's BIOS was hacked. However, I think it's too early to draw conclusions.

    Phil
     
  9. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    Oh, ok. But i'd check her programs anyway. There are programs that place screensavers.
     
  10. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

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    When you say "COMPAQ screen" are you referring to the red on black screen that comes up prior to Windows start-up? If so then you are dealing with a BIOS problem as that particular screen is on the chip not on the hdd.
     
  11. pcalvert

    pcalvert Registered Member

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    ThunderZ:

    Yes, that is correct. Since the computer wasn't booting up at the time, I was thinking that the screen might have been a screensaver, or one of the screens that a screensaver displays. I need to get my mother to check on that. If she can't find a screensaver like that then I think you are right-- it's a BIOS issue. Since her computer has been having trouble starting and has displayed other strange symptoms pointing to a hardware issue, a messed-up (hacked) BIOS seems like a definite possibility.

    Phil
     
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