Viruses and You Continued

 

If you’ve read my last blog entry, then you know that viruses can be vile, pernicious, sneaky beasts, sometimes able to worm their way into your computer despite your best efforts at protection. So what do you do if you’ve managed to contract a virus infection on your computer?

The first thing to do is to know how to recognize a virus infection. Viruses can be divided into two very broad categories: The flashy ones, and the sneaky ones. A sneaky virus will attempt to remain undetected by you so that it can do whatever nasty job it has in mind undisturbed. Because after all, a user probably isn’t going to go on a virus hunt if they have no suspicion that there is actually a virus present.  The flashy ones are the exact opposite. Pop-ups all over the place, internet searches not going where they should, etc…  One of the latest and most common tricks is for a virus to pretend that it is an Antivirus program, claim your computer is massively infected (which it is, but by only 1 virus, not the 20,000 that it is claiming), and ask you for your credit card number to purchase a copy of the supposed “antivirus” and remove the infection. Don’t fall for this, it’s a trap! Another flashy tactic is to claim that your hard drive has gone bad.  Don’t worry, your hard drive isn’t really toast, once again it’s just the virus masquerading as something else.

Now that we’ve divided virus infections into two broad categories, how do we get rid of them? The good news is that the same relatively simple methods can be used to clean the majority of virus infections. The first thing you need to know is how to boot your computer into Safe Mode. Safe Mode is a way to run Windows that only loads the absolute bare minimum that is needed to bring you to the desktop. This means that most of the time a virus won’t load with Windows in Safe Mode. With the virus not running, you are free to attempt to remove it.  To get your computer into safe mode, reboot it. Then, while the computer is booting up, but before it starts to load Windows, hit the F8 key repeatedly. Press it a little more than once per second, simply to make sure that the computer registers it. If you’ve done this correctly, you should see a black screen with a lot of text on it. Use your arrow keys to highlight “Safe Mode with Networking” and hit Enter. Now the computer should boot up into Safe Mode.

Once you’re in Safe Mode, you will want to start removing the virus. First, download and install a program called MalwareBytes, found at www.malwarebytes.org. Malwarebytes is an anti-malware (viruses, Trojans, spyware, adware, etc…) program that does a great job of removing problem programs. Once you’ve installed Malwarebytes (still in Safe Mode, mind you), run it and click on the “Update” tab. Make sure you have the latest version of the software, it should be within a couple of days of the current date. Once you’ve made sure that you’re properly updated, go back to the “Scanner” tab. Make sure “Full Scan” is selected and click the “Scan” button. Now it’s time to sit back and wait. A full scan can take anywhere from 20 to 120 minutes to complete. Once the scan is done, click the “Show Results” button, take a glance at all the problems the program has found, and then click the “Fix Selected” button (all the problem programs should already be selected). Once it’s fixed the problems, it will want you to reboot your computer. Go ahead and do so and let the computer reboot into normal mode, not safe mode.

This might have fixed your problem. If so, great! Congratulations on removing a virus! However, sometimes Malwarebytes isn’t quite enough.  If it didn’t work, you will have to move on to the next step. That next step is a very powerful little tool called Combofix. First, download it from http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/anti-virus/combofix and click on the Combofix Download Link on the page. Then, run the file that you have downloaded. Follow the prompts and do what the program tells you do. Eventually it will run and do its thing. It will automatically reboot for you and create a log file. Be sure not to try and run any other programs or do anything else with your computer while it is running!

Combofix should fix your problem, it—in combination with Malwarebytes—fixes the majority of virus infections out there today. However, if it doesn’t, then you are probably going to need some more personalized help. If that’s the case, give us a call, we would be glad to help you out!

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