I work in a federally regulated industry. I’m just the administrative assistant, a newfangled term for “secretary,” but I’m still under regulatory strictures.

Then there are corporate rules that sometimes go over and above what the government says is needed.

According to the Home Office, all advertisement must be vetted prior to using it. All literature handed out, all presentations, all things associated with the customer/client must be approved prior to using the stuff. They are regulated and then paranoid about promising things that cannot be delivered. They are careful. This is good because I’m not just an employee, I’m a client.

After being vetted by the FBI, I was given my position. I take my job seriously and try to behave in an appropriate manner. I don’t surf the net while at work. I work while I’m at work. I figure that is a good idea, since they pay me to, you know, work.

But yesterday, my job was to do a Google and a Yahoo search against our office phone number and against each boss’s name. Then, I was to ask the unsolicited sites to remove our listing from their pages since it was against our company policy to have them where we didn’t say they could go.

Great. It was a terrible job. I entered the phone number (you cannot use dots in a phone number, just dashes) and got lots and lots and lots of hits. So I would make sure they were approved sites – the company listing and the white and yellow pages were okay. If they were something else, I was to ask the listing be deleted. I printed out a paper trail of all this. Documentation is a wonderful thing.

Three hours later and I was done with the phone number and one boss. I entered the other boss’s name and got nearly 7,000 hits on Google alone. I just wanted to cry. It was slightly easier to keep going because I already knew which companies and which sites I had asked to be removed from. I won’t remember this in a couple more weeks.

There were also more important things to do. Things that needed to be taken care of so the office would continue to run in its usual high-efficiency state. Okay, I found other work instead of the 7,000 hits because my brain was fried and I couldn’t stand another minute of it. Luckily, there were actually things that needed to be done in order to meet deadlines.

My hero. Thanks, Ryan.

Today, I got to work on time. I fired up the computer. I entered my password for the encryption program. I entered the password to start up Windows. The next step is to enter a password for a VPN or Virtual Private Network. (I have two more passwords to enter before I can even start to work. Data is sacrosanct and highly protected.)

The VPN didn’t load. Instead I got an error message. Since my password has to have upper and lowercase letters, a symbol, and numbers it is easy to mistype the thing. I tried again. No go. I t-y-p-e-d  r-e-a-l  s-l-o-w and it still didn’t work. I knew I entered it correctly.

I restarted the computer and went through the same process, again with the error message appearing. I didn’t shut the error message box out this last time.

Next popped up something that did not say either “Symantec” or “Norton’s” on it but told me I had a virus. Luckily, just at the point, Boss A entered the office. She thought perhaps asking Boss B, our tech person in the office, would be a good idea. I called him (he doesn’t come into the office on Fridays). He wanted me to close the window without touching anything. Alt+f4 does that in Windows. I started Symantec, did a quick scan, got the same looking window with the same Trojan name appearing. Symantec offered to get rid of it for me. I accepted their kind help.

I tried the VPN again. Nope. I restarted the computer and three passwords later, still couldn’t get in. I’ve been told shutting down and rebooting is slightly different than just a restart so I tried that. Nothing.

I called tech support and told Jessica what my problem was. She tried to help but the biggest thing she could do was pass me along to the Spyware team. Ryan could be given control of my computer if I cooperated and I was more than willing to do that.

Ryan did all sorts of things. He placed some cool looking software on my desktop. The ice sword was the neatest looking. I have no idea what it did. The clean computer thing emptied my recycle bin (good thing there wasn’t anything essential I mistakenly threw out) and reset some other things. All my files, easily accessible from the Word or Excel menu were gone (just from the menu). The programs out of my start menu were gone. The quick launch was gone. The Trojan was gone.

It took Ryan about 50 minutes to fix my computer. It was almost noon by the time I got my computer back, and a little longer before I found where to get my quick launch thing back from. I also talked to the corporate person who told me of the necessity of checking all these websites and asking to be removed. He realized it was a conundrum but had no real solution to our problem.

Ryan assured me the Trojan hadn’t launched and no data was lost. No keycapture program had initialized. All my data was safe. My nerves were frayed, but other than that, all was well.

It was a rather disconcerting morning and I must say, I wish all sorts of evil on those who go out of their way to make life difficult for the rest of us. Apparently, this program steals data and then transmits it to a designated place. Once it arrives there, these people sell it to other nefarious scumbags.

I have no idea what would be appropriate punishment for these authors of doom, but hope every iota of it befalls them.

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