creepy man stuck in computer, help delete him!
April 16, 2013 10:54 PM   Subscribe

My daughter was using her computer yesterday, taking college placement math tests that she downloaded from the college site. As she continued working a creepy male voice came over the speakers. It came on randomly, she thought it may have been a monitor, but realized it repeated itself. It overlaps the music she was playing, meaning it didn't stop what was playing, just played along at the same time.I listened tonight, it's scary. Male voice, sounds of gun mechanism, shooting, heavy breathing, chanting, prayer like words, it's breathy-like winded or possibly sexual. Has anyone heard of a computer virus like this? What do I need to do to get this creepy man out of the computer? Thank you for any help you cam offer.
posted by jennstra to Computers & Internet (26 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Have you rebooted? I know it's obvious, but I'd try that first.
posted by LukeLockhart at 10:55 PM on April 16, 2013

Has she played this music before or was it the first time? Was it music she downloaded from somewhere or purchased from iTunes or Amazon or was it from Pandora/Spotify/other internet radio provider?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:01 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Contact the college, they might have been hacked.
posted by vrakatar at 11:05 PM on April 16, 2013

Turn off the computer, take out the battery, and take it to the Apple store/geek squad.
posted by amaire at 11:15 PM on April 16, 2013

Is this a Mac? I had someone once call me complaining of "the weird Russian man who speaks in my computer."

He had inadvertently turned on OSX's VoiceOver feature for the blind, which speaks everything aloud. Hitting Apple-Function-F5 will usually turn it on or off. Or go to System Preferences -> Universal Access, and turn it off there.
posted by MonsieurBon at 11:15 PM on April 16, 2013 [12 favorites]

Does she maybe have another browser window open that's got an ad with audio playing? Sometimes you won't even notice a pop-up. The gun sounds makes me wonder if somehow she's a got a browser open that's stuck on a movie or video game ad. (I have totally done this and been briefly weirded out.)

Have you rebooted? Run a virus scan?
posted by Countess Sandwich at 11:18 PM on April 16, 2013 [10 favorites]

If you have external speakers, they may pick up radio transmissions. I used to get the occasional CB traffic over poorly-shielded computer speakers.
posted by mumkin at 11:23 PM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

It sounds like someone may have infected the computer with a remote administration tool. Here is an article about it. I don't know how to get rid of it personally, but the info there could help get you started.
posted by ltisz at 11:25 PM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I have turned off and on again the computer.

Closed out everything, logged out of everything seemingly possible.

It's not an ad, it's as if someone is talking about assault or suicide. It's scary sounding, but not live.

it's not associated with her music, it happens with nothing playing too.

I'll contact the school tomorrow, to see if they have had other reports.
posted by jennstra at 11:30 PM on April 16, 2013

You could go one step more and reinstall the whole operating system, but my guess is some nut at the school hacked the math department. Is it a small school, or a large one? Do they have a robust comp. sci. program? Make a recording of it, if you can. It may help in case there is something criminal going on.
posted by vrakatar at 11:39 PM on April 16, 2013

I think this might be an old, known virus - that's a link to the fix.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:52 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Check if a startup sound has been set.
It's an old prank to set a weird soundtrack (possibly front loaded with a few minutes of startup sound) as a startup sound to freak people out.
posted by Simon_ at 12:40 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't know how to get rid of it personally

Wipe it. From orbit. It's the only way to be sure, if you have been RATted. But that's not certain yet.

It's not an ad, it's as if someone is talking about assault or suicide.

Does it react in any way to what she is using on the computer OR (important) doing that may be visible to a webcam (red activity light be damned)? In other words does it sound live, or does it repeat the same pattern every time she boots?

Have you googled any of the dialog to see if it's an audio track from a movie? Does it persist whether or not she is connected to the internet? Try to disable wi-fi, boot w/o networking enabled, etc. Do a search for large or long audio/video files on the computer that could contain this dialog to see if it's something conceivably running locally.
posted by dhartung at 2:55 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

MeFite deezil's profile has a pretty good list of things to do to clear malware off your computer.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:09 AM on April 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

Sounds like your daughter has been a victim of 'ratting'. There was a very informative article about it recently. If I were you, I would backup important documents and do a completely fresh installation of her operating system. Before you do anything else on a new machine you should install a spyware avoidance program. On a PC I'd use Spybot : Search and Destroy (completely free and necessary software). If it's a Mac, I'm afraid I can't help.
posted by 0bvious at 3:18 AM on April 17, 2013 [8 favorites]

If you disconnect the computer from the internet (wired / wireless) does the voice continue?

Is this windows or mac?

Are you sure it’s coming from the pc? I ask this because at work we have a little quarter size annoyance bug that can cricket or play spooky voice randomly. Since it's so small we hide it in each other’s cubes and at times it's really difficult to find.
posted by bleucube at 4:13 AM on April 17, 2013

What mumkin said. Internet search will show you that radio frequency bleed through speakers happens.

The computers my husband uses with his laptop pick up what we ultimately determined were radio transmissions from construction/electrical/cable guys in the area by listening very closely, even though it's really creepy to try to listen closely. It happened even when the computers were detached from the computer, but still plugged in and turned on which was really freaky and what motivated us to listen very closely.

Sometimes, though, the conversation is nothing like what you'd expect from construction guys and once or twice it was later than regular working hours. In those instances, we suspect it was some other radio frequency bleeding into the speaker, like CBs or ham radios.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:29 AM on April 17, 2013

Could you tell us which anti-virus software you are running (I guess none), and whether it is up-to-date, and if you have run a scan.

Also is this a Mac or a WIndows box?
posted by devnull at 5:54 AM on April 17, 2013

Since it's test software does it maybe have an option for sound? As in an oral exam? And maybe the person making / recording the test was playing a First-Person shooter? With machine guns, macho talk, etc...
posted by sebas at 6:57 AM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: I agree with multiple commenters that this is more likely to be ratting than an old virus. It's quite possible that the machine is infected with viruses, trojans/malware as well.

I'm assuming you have a Windows OS here: I advise you have the computer formatted and have the OS completely reinstalled.

If you absolutely have to use the computer before you can have it wiped, cover up the webcam with electrical tape and try to disable the microphone. With a lot of the malicious remote access software, they are able to turn on your camera while disabling the camera on light and turn on the microphone to monitor your conversations. You may want to try some of these clean up solutions, but if it's ratting or something equally malicious, it may override or not be addressed some of these methods:
Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool
Microsoft Safety Scanner
Microsoft Security Essentials

Also, if it is ratting, it's likely that much of your computer usage is being monitored, so no logging into bank web sites or anything sensitive. Either through your smart phone or another non-infected computer, I'd highly suggest changing all of your passwords. Please keep in mind that AV software does not protect you from everything.

For more comprehensive protection after your system is clean, in addition to updated traditional AV software, install anti-malware software like Malwarebytes, a community/cloud-based AV bolstering solution like Immunet, and a password manager like LastPass. As always, please make sure you are regularly installing your OS system updates.
posted by msladygrey at 7:03 AM on April 17, 2013

I wonder if you're somehow picking up someone playing a video game using a wireless headset. It would be consistent with what you describe hearing. Maybe check Bluetooth settings?

But first definitely run every scan you can. If you have been ratted you want to fix it ASAP.
posted by catatethebird at 8:19 AM on April 17, 2013

I don't know, this sounds exactly like a problem I had on my mac that seems to be the one linked above, here:
I think this might be an old, known virus - that's a link to the fix.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:52 PM on April 16 [1 favorite −] [!]

It was a file that had been installed on my computer without my knowledge or consent and it randomly played sounds, music, ads, etc. I deleted the file and never had another problem.
posted by latkes at 8:53 AM on April 17, 2013

Wow, I had never heard of "ratting" on computers as described in this thread, but since I am a woman and I have literally never used my webcam I am covering it up. I just tested it and noticed it does not have a light or anything to indicate when it's on or not, so I just put a piece of tape over it and it will stay there. Nice, another thing as a woman to feel paranoid about.

The audio OP describes sounds like it could be someone playing a game, but she said it repeats, so maybe it could be from a movie. I'd certainly check your running system processes and google what they all are. But if you do a bunch of virus scans and the sound is still coming through with built-in speakers or headphones, I'd definitely just reinstall the operating system.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:25 AM on April 17, 2013

Be absolutely certain there isn't a web page with a movie trailer or some other video playing. Back up your data, and do a full reinstall of everything. Huge pain, but necessary.
posted by theora55 at 11:25 AM on April 17, 2013

There is a more analog possibility for this as well - some speaker setups will actually pick up radio transmission from time to time. Mine will occasionally function as police radio scanners if a cop is parked a short ways up the street, which was completely baffling initially. Mayhaps there is someone using a transmitter nearby and the speakers are just catching a bit of the signal edge?

By using the sound mixer app in windows you should be able to trace if a sound source is coming from in the machine - if you mute the entire system and are still getting audio, it's likely bleedover from a transmission nearby.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:58 PM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: upon hearing radio coming from speakers although no programs were running, I did a google search and downloaded Kaspersky TDS Rootkit which removed a rootkit on a windows vista machine
posted by spacefire at 7:24 AM on April 19, 2013

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