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Can't Detect Hard Drive...VIRUS?

by satish_997 / April 24, 2008 5:29 PM PDT

Last night, an employee in the company I work for started a Microsoft windows update download for the all the computers on the server before leaving. Today, my boss came in to find all of the computers mysteriously powered off, and one of them (a Dell Desktop using XP Pro) he can't even boot up anymore as it cannot detect the IDE hard drive. As this was all the information we had to work with, we both were forced to assume that it was the Microsoft update that did it. Upon further inspection, however, I found that the firewalls on all the computers were off, and there was absolutely no form of internet protection on the pcs. Seeing this and considering the strange way the computers shut themselves off without being told to, I thought it highly likely someone kind of virus or worm made its way onto a computer and then the server .

Is this a logical or at least plausible assumption? Any ideas? He started a virus scan with Avast before we both left and will try Spybot tomorrow, don't know the results yet. Even if it does find a virus, though, is there anyway to tell if that's what caused this?

In the meantime, what could we try to make the one computer read the IDE hard drive? It's not showing up in the BIOS.

I would greatly appreciate any help!

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"It's not showing up in the BIOS."
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 25, 2008 12:26 AM PDT

It's a wonder that a company would retain an IT staffer that claims MS would be at fault for this. Think about this long and hard. No MS software is at play at this point.

Hard drives, cables, motherboards do fail. It's the IT staffer's job to maintain backups and repair if that's in their job description but I hope my comment here will help save some IT staffer's job. They should know better.

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PS. Try clearing the CMOS
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 25, 2008 12:31 AM PDT

And try again. Try another hard disk in that machine, connection to sniff out where the failure is.

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good idea
by satish_997 / April 25, 2008 2:11 AM PDT

Yeah, he said that when it got shut off, which was never supposed to happen, it had passwords they had forgotten to boot it back up so I cleared the CMOS to get rid of those. That got rid of the passwords, but the hard drive still isn't being detected.

Thanks for your input!

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Enclosure time
by James Denison / April 25, 2008 2:19 AM PDT
In reply to: good idea

Pull it, put in USB enclosure and try to access. If it won't shove it in refrigerator (not freezer!) for a bit, but leave hooked to USB on computer and eventually you may be able to connect and pull files. Sometimes a drive is failing and instead of working when cooler it only works when warmer. If the refrigerator trick won't work, then place in warm location (like 100 degrees or so) and try again. Get what you can off it, then sledgehammer it and toss.

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so it's the hard drive?
by satish_997 / April 25, 2008 2:08 AM PDT

I know! I was shocked it wasn't on and had no protection apart from the router.

So you think it's the hard drive then that failed? Not any kind of virus?

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Just checking.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 25, 2008 2:11 AM PDT

Let me try this. Why not pull the hard disk and test it in another machine? Why not pop in a new drive and see if the machine has problems with all drives?

What happened to this company's IT staff? Did they cut off the brain juice? (coffee, etc.)

PS. There was only ONE virus that affected hardware. Don't hire IT staff if they don't know this one.

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Definitely the next step
by satish_997 / April 25, 2008 2:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Just checking.

Yep, that's definitely the next step. I suggested that to my boss, but it was already super late so we had to go. I'll remind him to try that next I see him. The hard drive could possibly have a worm though, right? So I would want to try it on one of the really old computers that's not connected to the internet and is about to kick the bucket?

I don't know who's their IT guy, and I'm not even 100% sure they have one. I did my absolute best to warn him of all the dangers having practically no internet security could be. He did say he pays a ton extra for a dedicated IP address that supposedly helps protect sensitive data. I've never heard of a 'dedicated IP address.' I looked it up online but still didn't really get it. Do you know what it is and how effective it is?

Are you saying you do think it is a virus?

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dedicated IP address.
by James Denison / April 25, 2008 2:27 AM PDT

Worst thing in the world if you are targeted by someone. They can always find you, target you, DoS you, without even taking time to DNS where you are if running a domain. Basically it means you always have the same Internet Protocol Address for your business. If he's running a domain, he might think about renting server space elsewhere than his main business, that way they can target his domain server, but not the ones at his main business area, and usually those servers are better securitized than he obviously does within his own office.

For instance, GoDaddy or Network Solutions, or any number of good companies are out there providing server space for very cheap prices and any jerk can hack all day at one's domain site and it's up to those providers to worry about the security and keeping things running, not you. It also means unless the person targeting the business is getting updates from a trojan or emails giving the office IP address currently being used, then the hacker won't be able to find the main office computers as easily.

My opinion, the most secure setup for a business office isn't a dedicated IP address, which is only needed if running a domain server, and not absolutely necessary even then, but more secure is a rotating IP address, one that changes from time to time. I'm sort of lazy, but I cycle mine to get a new IP about every week, and I'd prefer every day actually.

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by satish_997 / April 25, 2008 2:49 AM PDT
In reply to: dedicated IP address.


That makes sense. I'm such a noob though when it comes to internet terms and stuff. What's a 'domain' and a 'domain server?'

My boss assured me that the dedicated IP address was there to greatly increase the security. Perhaps I or he misunderstood what was actually set up, but you're sure a 'dedicated IP address' (his exact words) provides no protection?

How could we set up a rotating IP address and would it cost anything?


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What the difference is
by James Denison / April 25, 2008 3:29 AM PDT
In reply to: ohhh

Most of the difference is being sold on the cost and getting a dedicated IP address provided. Beyond that there is little more to it. Here's a good mention of the "advantages". That part about domain propagation only applies for about the first 24 hours after someone buys or transfers a domain name, that's all.

Dynamic IP hosting account lets the IP address be left up to the server and instead of being available by putting a static IP address into a browser location line, you can only use the domain name and that then searches a DNS (Domain Name Server) for the current IP location on the internet and then delivers the site to you.

If you run a domain (like mydomain.com) and have it completely disconnected from the office system computers accessible only by FTP, then it's fairly difficult for someone to figure out a correct IP address to attack the office computers.

You can look up most terms here. http://www.webopedia.com/
On the right hand side they have already sections for DNS and IP.

If one doesn't have a static or "dedicated" IP address, but still want to have their server "in house", ie run it themself, then it can still be done using A Dynamic DNS tracking setup. Basically when the IP changes the DNS changes to reflect that. If one has their domain hosted at a major service provider then that is done by them anyway.

I myself wouldn't pay extra for a static or dedicated IP address, and actually prefer one that shifts once in awhile, (especially for home connection with teens online who might run afoul of RIAA tracking of downloaded music without my knowledge.)

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by satish_997 / April 25, 2008 3:41 AM PDT
In reply to: What the difference is

I'll let him know.

Thanks for your help!

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how to check security
by satish_997 / April 25, 2008 3:12 AM PDT
In reply to: dedicated IP address.

I strongly warned him that his security was lacking, but I'm don't think he is convinced. Is there some program or way to show him how easy it is to get into his computers with his extremely little security? When I googled it, a site came up that claimed to be symantec that could run a security scan on the computer. I wasn't entirely convinced it was legit though so I didn't try it.

I'm sure he would much rather be shown than experience it the hard way.

I'll also try this post in the Software Spyware, viruses & security forum.

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Plenty of them
by James Denison / April 25, 2008 3:33 AM PDT
In reply to: how to check security
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Other choices
by James Denison / April 25, 2008 12:54 AM PDT

For the one computer with possible failed drive, you can try a DOS based NTFS reader to see if it recognizes and allows access to the drive.

Another method is to use a Live CD from some Linux version (I prefer Knoppix)and see if it finds and can allow access to the drive.

Bob already mentioned opening and shorting the CMOS, but may not reset the BIOS if it resides in a hidden harddrive partition.

You may end up having to copy the files off using the Live CD to another drive and then running the Dell Recover CD on it.

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Can't Detect IDE Drive
by geaway / June 21, 2008 6:14 PM PDT

On 1 June I ran the Automatic Windows update on my HP Laptop. It installed the updates and rebooted. Everything worked fine until I powered off for the first time. The next time I turned it on it would not recognize the hard drive. As this laptop was 6 years old I never thought anything about it. Now, on 21 June I ran the Automatic Windows update on my desktop PC. Exact same thing. It rebooted to finish the Windows update and everthing worked fine. I turned the computer off later that day. Now, I tried to turn it back on and I get the same thing as my laptop, it can't find my IDE Drive. I can not access the BIOS on neither the PC or the laptop. I am convinced now that this has something to do with the Microsoft updates. What can I do to resolve this issue?

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Call Microsoft to ask for a fix.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 21, 2008 10:11 PM PDT
In reply to: Can't Detect IDE Drive

If not then you will likely have to take the machines to a shop as the drives no longer show in the BIOS boot screen.

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Re: can't find drive.
by Kees Bakker / June 21, 2008 10:14 PM PDT
In reply to: Can't Detect IDE Drive

It can't find the drive and you can't access the BIOS. That are two serious problems.

1. Test the drive in an USB-enclosure on another PC.

2. I assume you know how to get into the BIOS-setup (pressing del or F10 or whatever key it is with your motherboard at the right time). All you can do if that doesn't work and you are convinced you're doing it right:
- disconnect from the mains, remove the battery for half a minute and insert it again
- flash the BIOS by booting from a diskette with a new version
If it's still dead, I'm afraid you have to buy a new motherboard.

Unlikely this is related to MS updates, really.


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