Sperling Computer Protection Services I
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Got a virus you just can't bust? Is malware holding you or your personal information for ransom? Can't find information on this dubious process anywhere? Sperling Computer Protection Services: We'll Make It Work!™


3 March 2015

Not a week before Agent Kildare's transfer to Site-85-6, or 'Site Arse End' in casual company, there was speculation around 85-2 that an O5 had fallen victim to the malware known as Drive Doctor. DD and its mutant, many-armed offspring were harmless—annoying, but harmless—if the victim happened to be using a CRT monitor upon accessing the injection site.

Thus far, only the Foundation had noticed this quality.

Those at Site-85 owed this explanation to a memo from on high announcing that every Foundation flatscreen monitor was to be replaced with a CRT one. Effective immediately, it said.

Kildare's new charity shop monitor was yellow with cigarette smoke and smelled like a burning Furby. A discolored purple spot curled from the bottom of the screen like a tentacle, probably where a stupid kid had waved a magnet. The thing made him feel like a 90s hacker. Further, he was in the process of remote-controlling a client's computer, which made him feel like an expert 90s hacker.

"Okay, ma'am," said Kildare. "I've got good news and bad news."

The lady sighed. "Let's get the bad news over with."

"Your problem is Drive Doctor, which is sort of the common cold of malware. Too varied to make a good vaccine, too widespread to really protect yourself from."

"So there is no cure?"

"That's the good news. The program isn't behaving as it usually does, which is to lock down your files until you pay a large ransom. That means I can simply get rid of the thing. As part of our partnership with Microsoft, you will not be charged."

That always cheered them up.

He cleaned out the registry and installed a malware scanner. When it was all over, Kildare leaned back and addressed Dr. Mint, the only other person in the back office.

"Shame the Reaperlike isn't done, ah?" said Kildare. "I could've sneaked it into the old lady's PC just now."

"It'd be useless within the week." Mint rose and put on his jacket. "We've got a house call, if you're finished."

"What's the issue?"

"Impolite malware."

That could be anything, Kildare thought, but he held his tongue and followed Mint from the office.


The client, a Mr. Lisbourne, lived some miles inland. He was a little wisp of a pensioner with a little wisp of white hair and a tropical-print shirt. After a cursory inspection of their Sperling name-tags, he let them in and showed them the closet in which he'd stowed his PC.

"Huh," said Kildare, stooping. "What made you do that?"

"The bad spelling, mostly," said Mr. Lisbourne.

Mint and Kildare exchanged glances. They took the tower into the study, put some power to it, and disconnected the modem. Startup went as normally as one would expect for Windows 7.

Kildare said, "Show us where you encounter the problem."

Mr. Lisbourne opened a Word document: ThE BaDaSs ReVoLuSiOn.doc.

"That wasn't the name of it before," he said.

From 1788 to 1793, a writer and physician named %^)*DIRK SHADOWBLADE BUT EVRYONE CALLS HIM CAIN@$^#

Mint yanked the power cord out of the strip. With a tiny electronic sound, the monitor went black.

"My nephew always made a fuss about proper shutdowns," said Mr. Lisbourne.

"As well he should," said Kildare. "But that particular malware is—"

"—time-sensitive," said Mint, "self-replicating, and impossible to clean. You shall have to get a new PC."

"Oh dear."

"But we can save some of your things," Kildare said quickly. "We'll need to take it with us for isolation. It can get in everything if you're not very careful."

Mr. Lisbourne offered them tea, which regulations forbade them from accepting, and signed all the necessary paperwork. Kildare carried the enfilthed PC to the van. He stooped to wipe his hands on his socks.

Mint shut the doors and they left the neighborhood. The sun was low in the sky and positioned in just the right spot to blind Kildare.

"Sir, 732's containment procedures," he said. "Did they say anything about handlin' infected things with gloves, or tongs, or…"

"What would that change?" said Mint.

"I just don't want to get fanfiction all inside my mobile."

"If it worked that way, I think every Foundation data monkey would wear gloves."

Kildare bent down to wipe his fingertips on his socks again. "Maybe if that didn't cut into the budget too much, ah?"

"Tell you what. If you can come up with a way to reliably contain an instance of SCP-732, our entire department will get more funding than we know what to do with. Then you can buy your own gloves."

"Then I'll get 'promoted' again, right? Transfer to Site Even More Arse End?"

Mint turned a corner. "That's the spirit."


6 March 2015

There was a knock at the cupboard door.

"Come out of there," said Dr. Mint.

"No," said Kildare. "Sir."

"You'll need to explain yourself whether you're in a cupboard or not, and I'm sure you'd be more comfortable in a chair."

Kildare hesitated. He pushed open the door and climbed into the break room. All his pipes had gone very cold.

"They'll kill me," he said. "Agent Killed-are. Agent Kildead."

"Stop that."

Mint shunted Kildare into one of the chairs and went about fixing some tea. Neither said anything until a cup of watery Earl Grey and a tape recorder had made their way to the table.

"Okay." Mint sat across from him. "How did Drive Doctor get onto that PC?"

"I just don't fuckin' know, sir." Kildare looked at his hands. "Perhaps it's Drive Doctor that spreads through touch. Like warts. It shouldn't even be possible because we only use CRTs! C'mere, look—"

Kildare went into the office and sat in front of Lisbourne's PC. Mint trailed after him and set the tape recorder on the desk.

Your files have been crypted with #&@STRONGEST cryption software IN THE UNIVERSE$(*. Pay 2 bitchcoin for private decryption key within 120 hours or your files will be crypted ^*+for always and eternity huehuehue&!@. Follow instruction carefully !

"What the fuck is a bitchcoin?" said Kildare.

"Are Mr. Lisbourne's things safe?"

Kildare nodded at the external hard drive, sitting disconnected on the desk a couple feet away. "I haven't checked them to be sure."

"I'll do it." Mint took the drive and gestured to the monitor. "Take a photo of that and describe it for the audio log."

"Wait, wait. Sir. Are they—" He stood and leaned near Mint, lowering his voice to a whisper. "Will I be sacked for this?"

"Let me handle it."

Mint crossed the room to the row of guinea pig PCs. Kildare sat back down and pointed the recorder towards himself.

"I am currently looking at Drive Doctor's ransom screen," he said. "This is very certainly a CRT monitor. The screen reads, quote, 'your files have been crypted with strongest cryption software in the universe'…"

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