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TLTR: I've encountered a virus what affects both Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu 14.04. This virus was proven to be impossible to be detected/removed by 50+ most popular antivirus programs/rootkits. What to do? Any alternatives to a complete hd wipe?

Here's the deal: I've been having issues with a really strange virus on Windows 8.1 for several months now.

About the virus:

  • It plays a loop of a muffled voice through headphone/speakers at random times
  • I didn't hear this muffled voice for weeks at a time, but then it comes back
  • Disconnecting from the Internet and muting the sound does nothing to stop it
  • As far as I can tell, this virus does nothing but annoy, since my system runs as it should

What did NOT help to get rid of the virus:

  • I run 50+ (yes, really) different anti-virus/malware/spybots/scanners/rootkits on Windows 8.1 -- both in safe mode and otherwise, was a total waste of time
  • I run clamav/tk in Ubuntu 14.04, again this virus is undetectable by the large majority of anti-virus/rookits/etc
  • The refresh Windows 8 function: this doesn't delete the sys32 folders, but removes all programs
  • The factory reset from Windows recovery partition: did this 2 times... makes be believe that the recovery partition is also infected
  • Installing Ubuntu 14.04 on a different partition: the virus appears to have transferred and now I hear the muffled voice in Ubuntu as well

Any suggestions what to do here? I don't have a Windows 8 installation CD, but I'm close to wiping and reformatting the entire hd and installing Ubuntu again. Sadly, I still need Windows and might thus need to pay up for a fresh Windows 8 CD (despite having Windows 8 on this pc, and Windows 7 on another pc!).

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    Perhaps an alternate source of the sound would be RF bleed-over from a local transmitter? This used to be a common occurrence with HAM and CB radios running amplifiers over the standard transmitting power. It would bleed the transmission through TVs, radios, etc. even when they powered off.
    – douggro
    Nov 30 '14 at 10:41
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    What you are experiencing does not sound like a virus. It seems like an obscure technical affection. Just to be sure: if a sound is played under Ubuntu Linux. It goes through the sound server. Install pavucontrol and see the list of playback programs. If there is nothing, the sound is not played from Ubuntu Linux.
    – Klaus D.
    Nov 30 '14 at 10:43
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    Why are you so sure that this is a virus? Could it be some sort of static interference? Motherboards with integrated audio and cheaper electronics in general do tend to suffer with poor isolation of sound circuits. It doesn't sound very likely as a virus to be honest. Have you noticed that the noise happens more while the disk is being accessed or the computer is doing any intensive work? Or does it correlate to proximity/use of other electrical devices in your home (or even a neighbours)? Microwaves and mobile phones in particular can cause such interference. Nov 30 '14 at 10:51
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    "again this virus is undetectable by the large majority of anti-virus/rookits/etc" ... then I would assume it is not a virus. Would be a rather big coincidence if you was the 1st ever to face this virus.
    – Rinzwind
    Nov 30 '14 at 10:58
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    I think it's a ghost, It makes more sense than a virus that works in Windows and Linux. Nov 30 '14 at 11:50
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This is not a virus. Anyone who'd written a virus sophisticated enough to have the effects you describe (more than one operating system, undetected by any antivirus, no performance etc. effects on the infected machine) would not be using it to play muffled voices through your speakers. They'd be using it to steal information, probably from governments and large corporations. Using it for anything trivial like playing voices through your speakers would risk the virus being detected and compromised, which would waste the significant effort that would have to have been put into writing it. Unless maybe you're the head of your country's intelligence agency and the CIA is trying to make you go a little bit crazy? ;-)

Radio stations often loop a short message or piece of music when they're not broadcasting actual content. Since you only hear the voice intermittently and it's not in your country's language, I would suggest that it's a distant radio station that the electronics in your computer are only picking up when atmospheric conditions are just right.

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    ^^I can now confirm that this is, indeed, not a virus. I was sitting around with headphones for some time now and I tried to pull out the power supply from the laptop right when I heard the muffled voice. And, indeed, the voice disappeared the instance I pulled the power plug and re-appeared when I re-connected!
    – Newbie1
    Nov 30 '14 at 12:33
  • In that case, it sounds like either something in the power adaptor or possibly just its lead is acting as the receiver. If you can replace the lead that goes between the wall socket and the power adaptor, try a different one. Nov 30 '14 at 12:56
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Try running a linux live cd with the hdd/ssd detached. Maybe (as mentioned above) it's not a virus but a interference from another source.

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I've been having issues with a really strange virus on Windows 8.1 for several months now.

Why on earth would you keep using a system you suspect of being compromised? Antiviruses are supposed to detect. They are relatively poor at cleaning. If you think you've caught something bad and can't verify its complete removal, you backup your data and reinstall everything from known-clean media.

Restoring from an on-HD Windows recovery partition is convenient but your computer (and any malware) can probably also write to that partition. Treat it as hostile.

It seems most likely that this is a hardware interference issue and nothing to do with software. As other people have suggested, I would strongly recommend running Ubuntu from a Live CD for a while. Use it how you would have used your Ubuntu but try to avoid using files from your regular install. This will help rule out hardware issues.

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  • Because there isn't this notion of a compromised system doing damage to you or others e.g. by robbing your families bank accounts, ordering/smuggling goods that will get you into jail or something worse. A "virus" seems to be more like a tamagotchi. The other problem – as you said – is the notion of some software being able to remove "viruses". I believe it was the NSA that trashed entire systems and ordered new machines. We should go that route. If users aren't careful themselves, attempts at removal/fixing also shouldn't be careful, too. :)
    – LiveWireBT
    Nov 30 '14 at 16:52
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Some cheap speakers lack appropriate shielding and therefore act as a bad radio receiver. That seems much more likely than the same software issue affecting two separate operating systems.

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