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as seen on phillyBurbs.com

Death to Xupiter
My Web browser has been hijacked and the terrorists are coders in Hungary. This means war.

I've always thought of the Internet as the world's first 24-hour library, next to an all-night shopping mall, which is unfortunately located in the seedy side of town.

It's a rough neighborhood. Just as graffiti, muggers and drug dealers can make a city treacherous, the dangers online - from con artist spam, to viruses and worms - can threaten both you and your computer.

But you can usually find what you're looking for without too much hassle as long as you take precautions.

At work and home I have firewalls and anti-virus programs to protect me and my machines from some of the nastier social viruses that wingnuts can cook up.

But I was still blindsided by Xupiter.

It's insidious.

This nasty piece of work somehow installed itself in my work computer and took control of my Web browser.

And now because of it, seemingly every other page I tried to go to was being redirected to a site called Xupiter.com. In short, my browser was hijacked.

This meant war.

First, I tried uninstalling the program in the usual way - the add/remove program option in the control panel. No such luck, the darn thing wasn't in my PC's registry.

It also wasn't readily visible anywhere on my hard drive. But a search for a Xupiter file (under the start command) found its burrowed folder.

Next, I attempted a lobotomy. I managed to manually delete about half of the files before the "CAN NOT DELETE. PROGRAM IN USE" error appeared.

I tried rebooting and deleting it. No luck.

Damn, it's the program that wouldn't die and I was out of options. Xupiter 2, Dave 0.

That's when phillyBurbs designer Dave Koehler announced he found an interesting article on Wired.com.

Apparently, I wasn't the only suffering through this. One victim is quoted as saying he'd love to use a pair of dull shears on whoever created it.

Wired's writer traced the Xupiter.com Web site to a company called Tempo Internet, in Gyongyos, Hungary and warned that the program's are constantly tweaking it to make it more dastardly.

It did offer one ray of help - a link to a program called Spybot Search and Destroy.

I can't recommend this program enough.

First off, it's freeware (the author created it in honor of "the most wonderful girl on earth" - his girlfriend.) Second, it's very effective.

Spybot not only found and deleted Xupiter, it allowed to me to get rid of a few other nasty creations that have wormed their way onto my hard drive over the years.

Rest in peace Xupiter.

Dave Ralis' Pave The Grass column appears on Mondays. You can send him an e-mail at . To read his previous columns, click here.

Feb. 10, 2003