[OT] Hosed Xubuntu system

Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Mon Nov 28 10:30:14 EST 2016

Richmond Mathewson wrote:

 > I was unaware that there was malware for Linux :(

Everything is hackable.

 > I turned on my Xubuntu system this morning and found *nothing*,
 > so I started the machine up from a GParted boot disk and found that
 > not only had my boot disk been deleted, all the files on my other 2
 > hard drives had vanished
 > and were not recoverable by GParted.
 > I would be most grateful for any advice in this respect.

This may or may not be malware.

A more common attack would encrypt your files and demand bitcoin ransom. 
  Merely deleting the files means an attacker would be working with no 
benefit to themselves; not impossible, but with so many more lucrative 
opportunities it seems unlikely.

It may just be some sort of glitch (though it does seem an odd one).

To get some help diagnosing and possibly repairing the situation, I 
would recommend taking advantage of the Ubuntu forums, where they have a 
section for general help with derivative flavors like Xubuntu here:


 > I was naive enough to think that backing up data onto other hard
 > drives within the same computer was safe.

Better than no backup at all, but not without risks.

With HDDs currently available for about US$50/TB I've become a big fan 
of removable portable drives.

I've collected quite a few, used in rotation with each containing the 
last set of files from the day before.

I use my secondary internal drive for incremental backups made with the 
backup utility included with Ubuntu, so I can restore any given file to 
any version over the last several months.

And then I further hedge my bets with both a NextCloud setup which backs 
up and versions my work files to my office server, and a second mirror 
repository on my Mac which is also backed up to an attached drive via 
Time Machine.

Given that all software has bugs, and some will eventually make mash of 
a backup, and that all hard drives will eventually fail, this 
multiply-redundant setup helps mitigate those risks, using HDDs I'd 
acquired over the years for various purposes so the redundancy has grown 
over time.

Of course manually managing these would be quite a time waster, so I 
wrote a pair of bash scripts, one for my Linux box and one for my Mac, 
which use rsync to automate the copying.  So now at the end of the day I 
just run one script on my Linux box, then a second on my Mac, and when 
they're done I have four local copies of everything (five for work files 
thanks to the always-updating NextCloud) and one removable drive updated 
to take home with the others for offsite protection.

Back in the '90s I lost a big chunk of critical data in a hard drive 
failure.  For me, taking a few minutes at the end of the day to run an 
automated redundant backup helps me sleep better.

  Richard Gaskin
  Fourth World Systems
  Software Design and Development for the Desktop, Mobile, and the Web
  Ambassador at FourthWorld.com                http://www.FourthWorld.com

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