10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer

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10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer

Viruses are everywhere! And although we’d love to think that the Internet is really a safe place to spend our time (cough), we all know that there are risks around every corner. Email, social media, malicious websites which may have worked their way into search results, and ad pop-ups all can pose a threat. Although there are precautions you'll be able to take to limit potential risk of infecting your computer, sometimes simply have bad luck and have infected anyway. But thankfully, you'll be able to do it for free, although removing malware could be a painful process. And because of that, I’ve outlined all the steps of just how to do it.


It’s Not Just Viruses - Other Kinds Of Malware To Know About


2 Kinds of Malware

Because there are numerous kinds, “virus” is typically the term used to describe every one of the nasty issues that can infect your computer. But the correct term is really malware, and there’s a great deal of it.  Chris Hoffman wrote articles differentiating relating to the three main types of malware: viruses, trojans and worms. In that same article, he also briefly explains what spyware and scareware are. Scareware, or ransomware, is simply a program that infects your personal machine and then prompts you to definitely pay to get it fixed. Guy McDowell goes more in depth in what ransomware is and the ways to remove it. Lastly, there’s adware, i.e. unsolicited advertising installed on your pc.


How To Detect The Symptoms That You’re Infected


3 Symptoms

Why should you know how to detect symptoms - that’s whatever you have an antivirus program for, right? Well, that’s true - they help for sure. There have been occasions where mine has caught something and I’ve had time to get rid of it before it has had the opportunity to cause any harm. However, automobile antivirus program isn’t updated with all the latest definitions, it will not catch everything. Plus, it’s always easier to know what to watch out for, as opposed to depending on exactly what a program says.

1. Homepage And Search Engine Hijacking

Ever wonder why your homepage, now redirects to some weird website? Or why don't you consider your default internet search engine now being some other internet search engine that you’ve never got word of or recognize? These are tell-tale signs of malicious activity on your computer.

2. You’re Redirected To A Different Site Without Warning

Similar on the previous one, another problem you might come upon is being come to another website, likely malicious, whenever you typed in or clicked something different that you know hasn’t taken you there before.

3. Pop-ups

Ah, yes. The notorious pop-ups - you know what they are.

4. Crashes

This isn’t always linked to a malware infection, however, if this is happening together with some with the others mentioned here, you’ve almost certainly got something.

5. Unfamiliar Programs And Toolbars

Ever wonder how all those toolbars got there with your browser? They are brimming with search boxes and lots of useless buttons. Frankly, no one needs toolbars anymore. But if one appeared unannounced, it turned out either your poor program installation habits, or it snuck its way onto your pc… or both.

6. Slow Computer Online And Offline

Internet connectivity issues is one thing, but if your computer is always running slower than normal, whether you’re online or otherwise, you should keep reading this information.

7. Browser Can’t Load Pages

I hate being the barer of not so good news, in case your browser(s) continue(s) telling you that pages can’t be loaded, yet your Internet connection is ok, I’d bet that there’s something fishy happening.


The Steps To Take If You Are Infected


There is really a level of panic and worry that can overwhelm you whenever you realize that your personal machine has been infected - you are feeling vulnerable and open. However, it’s not over for your personal computer and all of the files which it contains. There are ten what exactly you need to do to obliterate that virus, trojan, worm, or other things may be infecting your personal machine and restore it on the state that it was prior on the infection.


1. Back Up Your Personal Files

4 Backup

Hopefully you have already been backing up your files. But having said that, I recommend that you simply copy your own personal files elsewhere just to get safe. Secondly, you don’t desire to back up everything on your personal computer, as there’s a risk that you simply could save some infected files along with it.

I’ve written several articles on storing, but the two that you simply should refer on the most can be why you need to backup and recovery tips to help you prepare for a tragedy.


2. Disconnect From The Internet

5 unplugging Ethernet cable and X over WiFi

A virus attempt to call home via your Internet connection. Disconnecting from the Internet should be one of the first items you do to be able to battle any form of malware. If you’re with a desktop, simply unplugging the Ethernet cable is probably the most certain way. If you are over a laptop, you can disconnect by unplugging the Ethernet cable, or if you’re wirelessly connected, disabling the WiFi with a physical button on the keyboard or in the Taskbar.

6 Disable WiFi


3. Boot In Safe Mode Or With A Live Antivirus Rescue Disk

7 safe mode

By booting in Safe Mode, you’re able to prevent any non-core components from running, allowing that you isolate problems easier. To do this, restart your computer, and press and support the F8 key while your pc starts up. The first option, “Safe Mode”, ought to be already selected, however, if not, it is possible to navigate to it with your arrow keys. Then press Enter. Once you’re in Safe Mode, it is possible to continue the malware-removal process.

If Windows won’t start in any respect, it is possible to use an antivirus rescue disk. These are intended for free from many antivirus companies like Kaspersky, Avira, AVG, yet others. Justin Pot has written several articles with this, including one on three live CD antivirus scanners, as well as more detailed posts concerning how to create a BitDefender and Kaspersky rescue disks. Lastly, you've got the use of using a Linux Live CD.


4. Get Another Computer With Internet Access

8 second computer with internet access

You will probably need the aid of one other reliable computer connected to the Web so that you can resolve your malware problems. This is because you need to research the problems and signs and symptoms of the specific infection, and also download various programs to take out the infection. If you don’t have another computer, you could possibly talk to an excellent friend or family member and explain your circumstances. Of course, when you are planning to school in a college or university, or if you have access to a computer lab with a library, you could possibly be capable to use a public computer to complete this also.

When you download any executable programs around the clean computer, you are going to of course desire a way to transport them for the infect computer. What I find best is really a flash drive without having other valuable files about it. You might also use an SD card or portable harddrive.


5. Try To Identify The Actual Malware And Search For Fixes

9 ID

Often occasions when malware infects your pc, it isn’t a few generic virus, but a specific kind that needs being removed which has a certain procedure. There are articles and forums all over the Web that address all kinds of malware infections. Start using a basic search based for the little information you know about the problem. For instance, if it’s by means of a fake antivirus program, what exactly is its name? Once you might have somewhere to begin, you can keep searching and gathering more information about what to complete. Ideally, you’ll find instructions to steer you through your entire process from start to finish.

In case you happen to be completely lost now, you can also ask MakeUseOf Answers and we will point you within the right direction.


6. Scan With Multiple Programs Until No Infections Are Found

10 scanning

If you'll be able to’t find anything specific about chlamydia, don’t worry - there are a selection of tools you can use to eliminate infections. These tools vary from antivirus to rootkit removers to anti-adware and antispyware to general antimalware programs.

On our Best Of Windows Software page, we've sections for antivirus, malware removal and firewall applications.

Some tools I recommend would be the Kaspersky TDSSKiller for removing rootkits, Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware and HitmanPro for removing many malware, and AdwCleaner for removing adware. All of such tools cost nothing and can be utilized in conjunction with one other.

Again, you may have to download these about the clean computer connected towards the Internet and transfer their executable files to the infected computer. Programs like Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware often need Internet access to obtain the latest definitions, so I often utilize it to make one final swipe once I’m capable to connect to the Internet again and download the updates. I then resume Safe Mode to operate the scans.

NOTE: You should know that although you are able to use multiple malware removal programs, you can’t use multiple antivirus programs, as they are able conflict.


7. Clean Up Temporary Files And Worthless Programs

11 tidy up

Once you’ve removed the nasty infections, it’s time for you to clean up any remaining files. The recommended program to do this is CCleaner. It’s not considered a “security program” by any means, but it can help during this process. However, CCleaner isn’t the only good cleaner available. IObit’s AdvancedCare, System Ninja, and also others like Xleaner and DriveTidy, are several good alternatives.

This might additionally be a great time to comb through your programs list by having an app like GeekUninstaller to remove unneeded or potentially risky software that snuck its way into your personal computer.


8. Remove System Restore Points

12 System Restore

Although System Restore can be extremely helpful and possesses proven to help me many times, system restore points will have the potential to contain malware, so it’s recommended which you delete those to make certain that all traces of malware are removed from your personal computer. If you know for certain when you contracted the malware, you are able to remove the restore points up to that time. However, being safe, I recommend you remove every one of them.

To do this in Windows Vista and 7 (and Windows 8 if you've got a Start Menu tool, like Classic Shell), click on the Start button, right-click Computer, after which Properties.

13 Start - Computer - Properties

Click System protection in the left panel, which may then prompt you with an administrator password or confirmation. Under the System Protection tab click Configure, then click Delete and OK.

14 system protection - configure - delete

If you’re using Windows 8 with no Start Menu tool, navigate your mouse cursor on the lower right-hand corner to show off the Charms bar. Click Search (magnifying glass), type “recovery” and then click Settings.  You should then visit a result which says Recovery, for me it was the second result down in the right panel.

15.1 Charms bar

15.2 Search - recovery

Once you click it, you’ll be taken to a window with Recovery tools, where you will click the link saying Configure System Restore. Then keep to the previous instructions.

16 recovery tools - configure system restore

If you utilize Windows XP, follow these instructions supplied by Microsoft.


9. Fix Post-Malware Removal Problems

There may be some problems that you simply encounter after you remove the infections from your personal computer. A couple quick options you could possibly try would be Microsoft’s Fix It tool and an instrument called Re-Enable II. Below are some common problems and how you might be capable of fix them.

Can’t Connect To The InternetThis guide by Select Real Security is invaluable which enable it to suggests many steps you might decide to use fix this issue.

Search Engine Redirecting To Random WebsiteOne with the primary reasons behind this, if you've Java (which you likely don’t need), is the Java cache hasn’t been cleared yet, which Java shows you how to complete.

If much of your search bar still goes elsewhere, that may be changed inside Settings of your browser, whether you have Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer forms of languages.

Homepage Is Still DifferentIf your homepage, like your internet search engine, was changed, you'll be able to go into your browser settings and change what this really is too.

Programs And Files Won’t OpenSelect Real Security has an excellent guide on the way to fix this too and uses four various ways: a Registry file, an INF file that fixes executable file association, CleanAutoRun by Kaspersky, and Creating a new user account.

Missing Desktop IconsIf none of your respective icons are on your own Desktop anymore, try the Unhide or Re-Enable II tools.

Windows Update And Firewall Won’t WorkIf Windows Update and/or your Firewall aren’t functional, you could try a tool called Windows Repair by Tweaking.com. It can do a lot, so whenever you use it, uncheck all of the options aside from the following five:


  • Repair WMI

  • Repair Windows Updates

  • Repair Windows Firewall

  • Reset Registry Permissions

  • Reset File Permissions


Windows Repair will come in both portable and non-portable versions.

Computer Is Still SlowIf your personal computer is still slow, there are several things you can do.


  • Removing more temporary files

  • Fix Windows system files by typing sfc /scannow in the Run Window (Start key + R) along with the restart the computer

  • Ensure you've got only one antivirus program installed and running on your personal computer


For more advice, take a look at Bakari’s article on why you could possibly have a slow computer or Tina’s guide on increasing Windows.

Still Having Problems? Try MakeUseOf AnswersIf none of such options help, you could turn to the MakeUseOf Answers forum, that has proven great for many, including myself a period or two.


10. Change Your Passwords

17 Change passwords

Lastly, you should change your passwords to make certain that no information that was potentially obtained while your computer was infected can be continued to be used against you together with cause a lot more harm.

I personally recommend using a password management strategy and Yaara wrote an outstanding article on how to create strong, yet to the point passwords, at the same time.


Conclusion: Preventing Further Infections


18 internet checklist

With so much on the Internet today, preventing every single thing can be pretty difficult, but there are ways being safe. We’ve covered many of these in the following articles already:


  • 7 Common Sense Tips to Help You Avoid Catching Malware

  • Are Your Social Friends Infecting You With Malware?

  • 9 Easy Ways To Never Get A Virus

  • 3 Top Ways People Get Infected by An Email Virus


Have you possessed the “pleasure” of removing malware from the or someone else’s computer? If so, do you've any additional insight or success stories to share? We’d wish to hear them!

Image Credits: Vintage Computer via Shutterstock, Laptop With Stethoscope via Shutterstock, storing securely via Shutterstock, Ethernet cable with forbidden sign via Shutterstock, High wireless signal via Shutterstock, Red forbidden sign via Shutterstock, Rescue Usb Flash Drive via Shutterstock, Infected computer beside non-infected computer via Shutterstock, internet email is open with some other computer virus icons via Shutterstock, Scan for viruses via Shutterstock, Virus Cleaned By Programmer via Shutterstock, note pinned with a cork board using the text Change Passwords via Shutterstock, Checklist for computer security via Shutterstock


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