virus Infection avoidance Western Weekender

Nobody wants a Virus Infection but with patience, you can fix the problem

Troy Dodds from The Western Weekender has asked me to do a selection of articles on topics relevant to their readers. This weeks article contains some tips on what to do if you suspect you have a virus infection or malware on your computer.

The article link is Western Sydney Weekender. The expanded article with additional information is below.

Do you see pop-up messages, are you redirected to different websites, does your computer run slowly or freeze, are you getting popups, are your files locked or deleted, or does your computer not start.  You may have a virus infection or malware issue.

Ten Steps to fixing Malware and Virus Infections.

These are general steps for an experienced user; there are millions of variations of virus infection types, often experience is the difference between a successful removal and a loss of data.

  1. Disconnect your computer from the internet immediate.
  2. If you have System Restore configured and you know when you got the infection. Restore to an earlier point in time. If this works – fantastic. If not or it has not been configured then move onto the next step
  3. Restart your computer in Safe Mode (Windows) – this will start the computer with minimal options and will not begin most malware or viruses.
  4. Delete all temporary files – In Windows 10 use the Disk Cleanup tool.
  5. Download an install an Anti-Virus scanner. I recommend the Microsoft Safety Scanner. Downloading / Running multiple scanners from different vendors are encouraged.
  6. Download and run Malwarebytes.
  7. If you can identify the virus or malware, there may be manual steps required to remove it. Carry these out.
  8. Malware often hijacks your web browser homepage or adds in a toolbar. Manually change and remove these.
  9. If Windows is working, but some applications are not, then you will need to reinstall these programs.
  10. If Windows is still problematic, you will need to backup all your files and reinstall your system from scratch.

Bonus Tip

  • Keep all the software on your computer up to date. Use a full security suite, not just an AntiVirus. Be diligent when browsing or clicking on links.

If Windows doesn’t start, then you will need to use a boot CD or USB – we use Hirens BootCD. This is an all in one Boot CD that has a combination of both back-ups, diagnostic and cleaning tools.

Expanded Ten Steps for removing Viruses and Malware

Step 1: Disconnect your Computer from the Internet

Disconnect your computer from the internet. Malware or a Virus Infection can collect information and send it to third parties whilst you are connected to the internet. If your computer is networked, your connection will allow them to spread across your network to other PC’s, or if a business your network server. If you suspect you are infected, or that you might have clicked on a link you shouldn’t have, you should immediately disconnect your computer from your network and internet. The quickest way to do this if you are using a cable – is to reach around the back of your computer and unplug the network cable(usually blue). If you are using wireless go to the bottom right of the toolbar at the bottom of your page. Click on the wireless symbol and disconnect from your wireless network.

Step 2: Run Windows System Restore

System Restore: Is a feature that allows you to roll back Windows to a point in time. If configured Windows will create automatic rollback points. These usually occur when new programs are installed. Rolling back removes any programs or changes which has occurred prior to the changes, but leaves your files and data intact. Unfortunately, it is not turned on as standard. Using this feature also uses additional space on your hard drive. How to Geek has written a great article on how to set up, configure and use this feature. It can be found HERE.

Step 3: Restart in Safe Mode

Restart your computer in safe mode: Each version of Windows has a different way to start up into safe mode. Eset has a great article on how to do this. You can find it HERE.

Step 4: Delete Temporary Files

Delete all Temporary files. Use the Disk Clean Up tool built into Windows 10. Microsoft has more information on this HERE.

Step 5: Run Multiple Antivirus programs

Having an AntiVirus will protect you from many virus and spyware activity. All antivirus packages, these days have close to 100% detection (usually in the 99.xx percentage but only if kept up to date), but none can stop a zero-day Virus. A Zero Day virus is a virus that is brand new, only just released.  They are a form of virus or spyware not yet seen, so the antivirus companies are not yet searching for it. If you are unlucky enough to get one of these, then there are a num of tools which can help you detect and resolve it. Most security companies w have a similar tool, but a good one to start is Microsoft Safety Scanner.  The download and how to use it can be found HERE.

Step 6: Run Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes has been around for a long time and is easily one of the best tools for detecting and removing spyware and viruses. It is free for 14 days and is the full version. More information and where to download can be found HERE

Step 7: Manually remove the Virus Infection

Often with newly identified virus Infections or spyware, the Security / Virus software companies may take a while to code and test the resolution in their scanner. While they do this they will often list a manual way to remove the virus. The steps will be comprehensive and easy to follow. BUT it is not for the faint-hearted, these steps often involve changing a setting in core system files. Any mistakes here you could end up losing everything. If you are unlucky enough to be in this situation I would recommend a trip to your local IT guru. 

Step 8: Browser Hijacks

If you find your web browser continually opens to a page other than your home page (Google / Bing for example), then your browser has been hijacked. Malwarebytes describe above will often fix these, as will Microsoft Safety Scanner. Other tools which can help resolve this are RKILL, Hitman Pro and Norton Power Eraser, to name just a few. A couple of good websites that describe how to resolve this issue include

Step 9: Reinstall Programs

Often when a virus infection or Spyware is removed, some files restored or recovered may be incorrect versions, the result being you may have certain programs which no longer work. Generally, in this scenario, the easiest fix is to simply reinstall them.

Step 10: Windows Reinstall

Sometimes no matter what you do, your computer is beyond redemption. then your only option is to back up your information and reinstall Windows. Microsoft has made installing Windows 10 quite simple and is mainly automated until it comes to entering your personal details.

As far as backups go, this is something you should be doing on an ongoing basis, then recovering your data is a simple procedure. 

If you haven’t and you can still access your files, then back them up onto a USB drive. If you can no longer access your files, then programs like Hirens BootCD will help.

Feel uncomfortable doing this, reach out to your IT Guru. This is quite a time-consuming thing to do so expect a bill for 2-3 hours.

Bonus Tip: Virus Infection Avoidance

The best way to fix a virus or spyware issue is to avoid it. So

  • Have an Anti- Virus installed and keep it up to date.
  • Always keep windows 10 patched.
  • If running older versions like Windows 7, time to upgrade as you are at greater risk, as they are no longer supported by Microsoft.
  • Use common sense when clicking on email or webpage links, you really are not going to get that promised iPhone for $10.
  • Download some of the tools mentioned above and run them frequently.

Helpful links

For this article, it made more sense to have the links identified in each step.

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