Wednesday, 13 June 2012

5 things NOT to do when you suspect your PC is infected with malware or viruses

Two days and much wasted time later and I now have free copies of avast, spybot, ccleaner, malwarebytes and spyware doctor all fighting with each other to "protect" my system. And guess what? The original issue - the Mystart Incredibar - is still running merrily on my system totally unmoved by the vast army of ant-virusware out to destroy it.

Well - it is gone now!
I had to remove it manually (see step 5 below) - which was straightforward enough when I finally gave up on the hope of an instant fix from the anti-virus software.
So here are the 5 things I learned from my experience:
  1. Try your existing anti-virus anti-malware software first. Give it the full assault with everything in your existing anti-malware armoury - use the most thorough scan options not the quick scan or the background scan. If you already have a couple of decent tools and they don't fix it then its unlikely the others will either! If you are in a hurry go directly to step 5.
  2. Beware of anti-virus sales pitches masquerading as free web advice. If the bit of malware you have is described as the most evil piece of software on earth then its probably an ant-virus software website you are on and not an independent website or blog. Anti-virus software companies need viruses or they would not have businesses and they tend to exaggerate their effects. Beware also if you get invited to click a magic link which reads something like "click here to automatically remove mystart incredibar [enter your own virus name here]" - most likely you will be downloading the antivirus software product instead.
  3. Be very careful about instructions which require you to manually remove the malware by editing the system registry. I have discovered that the instructions from different websites are totally contradictory and they seem to be written for old versions of windows. If you still want to edit the registry make a backup first but I would avoid this at all costs!
  4. The easiest fix is just to restore to a pre-malware point. Unfortunately Windows 7 seems to want to manage the creation of restore points itself but does not create them that often. I found lots of guidance on how to make Windows 7 create more restore points. Also for me sadly the restore failed and reverted back to the pre-restore version.
  5. If all else fails try the obvious. For example in this case I just went into the browser options and changed the default home page and search engine back to what it was. The malware is still on my computer so its not the ideal solution. But hey my computer now works the way it used to and I wish I had done this first!
Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at