Blog of Daniel Baxter, now secure! :)

Free SSL from Let's Encrypt!

Archive for July, 2011

What to do when viruses target antiviruses?

One of the main reasons I don’t like running antivirus software is because I usually don’t need to. Recently I managed to install a particularly pesky virus, although mostly harmless, it would insist on closing any antivirus software that discovered it and then changing the file-permissions to disallow access to it. It also had an insistent hatred of Process Explorer and would also terminate that on launch and then change the access to the file to disallow access.

What was most worrying was that the software I was using was unable to protect itself against this – except for SuperAntiSpyware which does have an “alternate start option”. That option, however, did not restore the ability to launch the program directly, I still had to manually change the permissions back using CACLS.

A quick Google revealed that since 09’ everyone who’s been getting infected by this virus (including PC technicians) give up on trying to clean the system and simply reformat or reinstall Windows. At least the ones that seek help on the internet do anyway.

Which brings me to this point: how is it that no antivirus software that I could find has created a workaround or otherwise fixed this?

The virus creates a rouge SVCHOST file which in task manager is near impossible to distinguish between the genuine one (this is probably why it wouldn’t let me run process explorer). On the other hand it has to start it somehow and there are only a handful of ways to autostart a program. Once I’ve determined that it’s not through any of the usual channels I’ve gone to the last place one would instinctively think to look – in the Device Manager.

The Device Manager contains all of the drivers that also “autostart” with windows. If you want to see for yourself what’s in there, open up Device Manager (Start > Run > “devmgmt.msc”). Then click “View” > “Show Hidden Devices”. Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to determine what’s what in there. As you can probably tell if you’re looking at it.

Since I didn’t feel like going through every single one individually, and granted that many perfectly innocent drivers have nothing more than a number or a jumble of indecipherable letters to identify them, I simply deleted the two that looked most likely to be a virus (which of course means I deleted at least one “valid” driver). Probably not a good idea to try at home though, especially if you don’t actually know a rootkit is involved, and even more especially if you don’t have a clue what most of those drivers are (I at least could identify about half with some degree of certainty relatively quickly).

On restart, however, the virus was permanently disabled. What did the other driver do? I don’t yet know – no doubt it was installed by one piece of software and its function may have been as simple as creating a virtual cd-drive or virtual printer, etc. It can be fixed easily whatever it was. A lot more easily than a complete reinstall of Windows anyway, that’s for certain. A quick re-run of SuperAntiSpyware and all traces of it are gone.

All in all I’m unimpressed by the inability of antivirus software to fix a problem that’s 2 years or so old. It’s no wonder people resort to reformatting when they get this virus: how many people are going to be able to manually delete a driver in device manager when they don’t even know what it’s called or where to look for it in the first place?

Well, that’s a stupid question isn’t it when I couldn’t find evidence of anyone successfully overcoming this virus without reformatting!

Of course there is one other way that would have worked to have fixed this: System Restore. I have that permanently turned off, however. And who knows, the virus may have also disabled the use of system restore (meaning you would have to access it from the recovery console)?

Until next time…

How much will we cool the planet?

In my last entry I talked about how climate change is real, but CO2 can only be partly responsible – if at all. I personally don’t agree that CO2 is contributing to global warming at all, and after studying the science I concluded that the most it could have contributed of the 0.7 deg. trend is 0.1-0.2deg.

0.2 IF you take the EGE (enhanced greenhouse effect) and pit the blame solely on CO2; otherwise it’s 0.1, at most. And this is echoed by NASA’s simulations which put methane plus black carbon as contributing more-or-less the same as CO2.

I am not an environmentalist by nature, but I still believe that protecting the real environment is far more important that CO2 emissions and the like. I’m aware that western nations, such as Australia, claim to be anti-whaling (while global whale populations are stable); yet are actively involved in over-fishing the global salmon and tuna stocks (who’s global populations are rapidly declining). This is similar to hunting on land; there are an abundance of kangaroos in Australia and even with hunting in place in certain regions every year government sanctioned culls are put in place. If, however, we were in the situation where there were only 2 million rather than 25+ million, then we’d put real limits on hunting.

Julia Gillard claims that only the “big polluters” are going to pay the carbon tax. Well if you count CO2 emissions as pollution then that would be true; but it isn’t the “polluters” who are going to pay for it at all; it is the CO2 emitters. This does nothing whatsoever to curb REAL pollution, only to curve the political pollution of CO2 emissions!

The atmosphere is 78.08% Nitrogen, 20.8% O2, 0-4% Water Vapour (Average 1%), 0.93% Argon, 0.036% CO2, 0.0018% Ne, 0.0005% He, 0.00017% Methane, 0.00005% H2, 0.00003% N2O, and… finally… .000004% O3.

Out of the minor GHG’s (greenhouse gasses) about 99.5% of our GHG emissions are CO2. 96.7% of CO2 emissions are natural, and 3.3% are the product of burning fossil fuels and deforestation (in other words, caused by mankind).

We, that is – Australia – contribute 1.32% of the man-made total, or if you prefer, about 0.04% of the total CO2 emissions each year. By the way this is what we’re taxing – make no mistake – the 0.04% of yearly CO2 emissions that we contribute. It will do absolutely nothing whatsoever to change the composition of the atmosphere, nor to reduce the continual build-up of atmospheric CO2.

For argument’s sake let’s assume that 100ppm of atmospheric CO2 was caused by humans, that’s 26% or so. Assuming that an increase in CO2 lineally increases its greenhouse effect (this is the assumption made by climate scientists), That would make us responsible for 0.01% of the total amount of CO2, if we had been an emitter since the early 1800’s.

Clearly even those who believe in man-made climate change would know with certainty that any measures we take here to limit our emissions is purely political and is unable to affect the climate in any appreciable way.

Now let’s take those numbers and look forward. We’re supposedly facing a two degree temperature rise this century. Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that climate scientists are right and that the warming trend is solely based on GHG’s. Out of the EGE let’s assume that CO2 contributes 47%, that methane, black carbon and CFC’s contribute the rest. That reduces the amount that CO2 will be responsible for from 2 degrees to less than 1 degree Celsius.

We will contribute, over the next 100 years, 1.32% of that. 0.012408 degrees Celsius. To put it in perspective that’s about 1/80th of a degree, and considering that it’s representative of our contribution towards less than one degree from CO2 and ignores the other emissions that contribute the remainder of the effect; so really the net result is that our part of CO2 emissions account for some 1/160th of the warming trend over the next 100 years. Oh yeah, and that’s IF (a big if) the greenhouse effect is what is causing global warming.

It gets worse. What if these carbon limits only reduce our CO2 emissions by say 80% not 100%? Then it would mean we’d achieved in reducing the overall global warming not by 1/160th but by 1/200th!

The Aussie economy is hanging by a thread. We are bankrolled by our mining sector. It alone is keeping us out of recession. Is it really worth completely fucking up our economy in order to reduce CO2 emissions? I don’t think so.

Yes I’m a climate sceptic; No I’m not an idiot!

Global Climate Scare!

It is a dark day when Australia decides to jump on the world-renowned climate scaremongering team.

If you understand the science behind global warming being attributed to the “enhanced greenhouse effect” then you understand that you don’t understand the science of climate change. Any other position is an outright lie.

Julia Gillard announced a new tax aimed at increasing the cost of using carbon to (eventually) price it out of our economy; she repeatedly used the term “carbon pollution” and she claims that most Australians will not be worse off – although if this were truly possible then it would eclipse the incentive for business to curb CO2 emissions, they are inversely related to each other.

There is a vast gap between “knowledge” and “theory” with this matter. In my series on science I even brought to attention some of these “leaps of faith” in other areas. Let’s have a look at what scientists purport to know with certainty:

1. Human activity has altered the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere (and to a lesser degree other minor gasses).
2. In the 20th century the planet warmed up 0.7 degrees, continuing a warming trend from the 19th century at an accelerated rate.
3. Increasing greenhouse gasses warms the planet.

Let’s first acknowledge these statements as more-or-less true. Statement 3 is a half-truth, but I’ll get to that in a bit. At the moment climate scientists are in denial that CO2 breaks down on its own in the atmosphere; there is some science behind this, but it’s still an assumption. Thus they have a highly developed idea of the global carbon cycle which includes emitters and sinks and precludes the possibility of atmospheric breakdown.

In 2000, NASA founded research officially released a contradicting story where the non-CO2 GHG’s were the real culprit.

In 2004, NASA came forward with information to the effect that areoles are the culprit with arctic warming, not CO2.

In 2005 NASA said Methane may be twice as responsible as previously thought.

In 2011 NASA released information to the effect that removing black-carbon and ozone emissions that are created by humans would reduce the immediate global-warming trend into the future by “about half” over the next 40 years. This follows earlier work where NASA’s computer modelling showed the respective responsibility of the global warming trend to be: 43% CO2, Methane 27%, Black Carbon 12%, CFC’s 8%, CO and volatile organics 7% (funny how this wasn’t widely reported isn’t it?)

No one knows exactly how much the greenhouse effect warms the planet, no one knows exactly how much CO2 is responsible, nor precisely the amount of the other GHG’s. It is well acknowledged that water vapour is the main component and accounts for 90-95% of the effect, but in terms of the atmospheric amount of GHG’s it accounts for greater than 99.99%. The fact that is rarely acknowledged by scaremongering climate scientists is that CO2 already absorbs the vast majority of the solar radiation that it is capable of absorbing (same for water vapour). Just because you can keep increasing the concentration of CO2 doesn’t mean an increase in suitable CO2-absorbable solar-radiation will also occur, in fact this is one of the biggest mistakes in the science: it does not account for the fact that there is (for simplicities sake) a static amount of solar radiation! Therefore, even if CO2 has been increasing its contribution to the greenhouse effect, as more and more of it is added the amount of increase declines rapidly until it can’t contribute any more.