I spent most of the day surfing around, downloading user-made game mods for Oblivion. Some are just loose data files that you put into the right directories. Some are nice, self-contained files. Others have their own self-installing executables.
I messed around today, installing, uninstalling, downloading, and generally feeling free to run whatever the internet gave me.
Then later I rebooted and suddenly AVG (my anti-virus software) couldn’t start. One of the key files was missing. Oh crap.
ohcrap ohcrap ohcrap
I managed to re-install it and it is currently doing a scan. The system files seem ok but I’m still paranoid at this point. DLL files don’t erase themselves. That file was missing for a reason. Something I ran – knowingly or unknowingly – caused it to go away. One common tactic of spyware / malware / virii is to go after your anti-virus first, so I suspect foul play.
I have no idea if it is in any way related to the Oblivion mods. It could be something else. I was on some of those pay-to-download sites, like fileplanet. You know, the ones where you have to follow ten links that all say “click here to download” before they finally get around to giving you the page where you can join (for a fee) and download the file, or you can wait half an hour for your file. Not really worth considering for a 300k file. Anyway, while I don’t suspect those sites of being directly evil, they are bathed in dozens of popups and little ads, any of which might be trying to cause mischief. I don’t know.
I haven’t had a virus yet this century, and maybe I was developing a relaxed attitude towards danger. I think I need to rekindle my sense of paranoia and suspicion when it comes to downloading software.
AND LATER: So what happened? I have no idea. The system is clean and running fine, no further weirdness. It probably wasn’t a virus or other malicious software, but SOMETHING strange was going on. I’ll probably never know what really happened.