I've got malware on my PC from using a free proxy or other source.
Now what do I do?
It is not always possible to remove malware from your PC. In severe cases the only solution is to reformat the hard drive and reinstall the operating system to factory original conditions. The procedures below will give you your best shot at eliminating many malware infections.
Many sites suggest using system restore to go back to a previous good version of Windows to resolve malware issues. This rarely works as the hackers who write the malware know all about system restore and how to defeat it.
The first step to remove malware (see the basic symptoms of a malware infection at the bottom of the page) from your computer is to get some removal tools. No one tool can remove all forms of malware. If you are seeing the signs of malware on your computer odds are there is more than one variant infecting your PC. Using multiple tools helps ensure that you get all of it the first time around.
Fortunately, most of the anti malware tools are offered for free in at least some form. Most have a paid upgrade option that sometimes is good to have but often not needed.
When obtaining your anti malware tools it is important to get them from a computer that is not infected. Downloading the software on an infected PC can cause the anti malware software to become compromised and not work properly. The ideal medium for use here is a standard CD. This is because once the CD has been written and closed it cannot be written to. Since the CD cannot be written to the malware cannot affect the software in any way. If a CD is not available then a USB flash drive is the next choice to transfer the files to the infected PC. After transferring the files the flash drive should be formatted immediately in case any malware was placed on it by the infected PC.
Our favorite tools for malware removal are Malwarebytes, Super Anti Spyware and Combofix. Each has it's own strengths and combined will remove just about anything. It's important to have the latest version of each. New malware comes out every day and using a tool you downloaded 6 months ago may not find the latest infection on your computer.
Download the software below:
Once you have the software it needs to be installed on the PC. The safest way to do this and to minimize the chance that the malware is active is to load and run the software from safe mode. You can access safe mode on any Windows PC by rebooting the computer and holding down the f8 key after the computer starts but before Windows starts to load. When safe mode is activated it will give you several choices. Select safe mode without networking.
Install each of the applications above and run them from safe mode. Be sure to read the instructions on the web site of the manufacturer and follow them. This is especially important with Combofix which is a specialty product designed to target a limited number of hard to eradicate infections. Combofix will reboot your computer several times in scanning and removing the malware it targets.
In most cases these applications will remove the infection and your computer will be up and running again. However, you need to take steps to protect your identity and online applications. The malware could have stolen passwords to email, banking and social site accounts if it had a key logging component. This information would have been emailed to the creator of the malware. It is important that you immediately check all your accounts for suspicious activity and change all access passwords.
If you find that the problem has not gone away or that the applications have not run properly then odds are the infection is so severe that it cannot be easily removed. Your choices at this point are to either go to a professional repair facility and pay them to try and remove the malware or to reset your computer to factory settings. If you bought a PC with the operating system installed it will have either come with a reinstall disk or will have the reinstall features on a small partition on your hard drive. Consult with your user manual on how to restore the computer to factory levels. This restore will wipe all data off you computer, including the malware as well as all of your files. Keeping frequent backups of your essential data is a good thing for times like this.
Common symptoms of a spyware, virus or other malware infection.
Your Web browser's default or start-up homepage changes.
You enter or click on one web site URL but end up at a totally different site.
Using a search engine gives you results that don't make sense and direct you to strange web sites.
Your firewall and anti virus programs are suddenly turned off.
Your anti virus software will not update and you can't get to malware removal sites.
Excessive popup windows appear.
You notice a significant drop in your computers speed and web access.
Software is installed in your start menu that you did not install.
Your email account is flooded with non deliverable emails which you never sent.
New tool bars or plug ins appear in your browser. Some might claim to be anti spyware, virus or malware applications.