Malware Removal Guide – Diagnose, Repair and Protect Your Computer

UPDATE (5/8/14) – Latest round of malware/hijack – pop-ups!!! Can you believe it? They have seeded many pages with javascript pop-ups that display the “mayday” message with a phone number to call and locked the browser. If you call the number, they want to remote into your computer and proceed to tell you how infected you are (even on machines I’ve just repaired) and take your money. Just close the browser out of the Task Manager and restart it. When it complains about having been closed improperly (Chrome) don’t restore the page, just navigate to your home page.

UPDATE (11/6/13) – We’ve been extremely busy at the store fixing the damage done by the aggressive emergence of the advertising industry. With an estimated $50B internet marketing/advertising being spent, it’s no wonder that the line between hacker and advertiser is getting blurred. We’re seen multiple, piggy-back installs of all sorts of toolbars, updaters, fake utilities, etc. being installed via hijacked downloads. Search for “Google Earth” and the search engine response page (SERP) will list several websites that are NOT Google, that make it easy to install Earth….only the file is not the Earth installer. Care to guess what it is?

First, malware removal is more than just running scans to locate and remove offending files or registry entries. You’ve tried all that. Sure, the computer ran better afterward…but it wasn’t long before it came back.

Today’s Windows malware infections have become impossible to repair with spyware removal software of any kind.

By using a rootkit to modify your operating system, hackers ‘protect’ their payloads from being discovered or modified.

Removal of any virus is often impossible because the rootkit protects the malware from being discovered.

Many repair shops and online blogs fail to grasp the severity of a rootkit infection and continue to scan and fix hoping to get the upper hand on the rootkit.

About 90% of the computers repaired at my shop are infected with rootkits. To get a better understanding of what a rootkit is, here is Wikipedia’s definition.

In my experience, if protected by a rootkit, malware infections cannot be removed. Malware removers and spyware removal software are rendered useless against a rootkit infection. The best we can do is determine the presence of a rootkit before making a repair decision.

Having owned a brick-n-mortar computer repair business for the past 15 years, I have seen hundreds of computer problems – most relating to viruses. However, today the advertising industry has taken up the slack but actually creating affiliate relationships with the hackers.

Whether it’s a trojan, worm, backdoor or keylogger, I’ve tried all the software and tools available and wasted hours trying to fix the infection only to find that, after hours of scanning and registry editing, that the damage done could not be fixed permanently.

This guide will teach you how I diagnose rootkit infections in my shop and the steps I take to get the repair done quickly and completely.

I’ll teach you how virus infections occur and how internet criminals perpetrate their hacks on your computer…and why antivirus software can’t protect you 100%.

Fixing a computer is only half the battle. I’ll teach you how your computer became infected and what you can do to prevent future infections.

By practicing the advice here and using the tools and techniques described, you’ll be able to keep your computer out of the computer repair shops.

Most of what you’ll learn here comes directly from my experience working on computers…not from some internet search or blog. This site is the result of my own experience at Battle Ground Computers.

To begin, use the diagnostics page, to learn how to determine what type of problem (hardware/software) you have and what actions to take to repair your computer.

Once you’ve diagnosed your particular problem and chosen a course of repair, I’ll teach you the tools and techniques I use to quickly and effectively do a complete repair of your computer.

Then I’ll teach you the same preventative measures I teach my customers to use to protect their computers.

Once repaired, it’s important to understand that protecting your computer from future virus infections is more than installing antivirus software.

After all, the hackers would never let a simple antivirus program stop them.

I’ll teach you how hackers use social engineering to infect your computer even when you have an antivirus program.

I apologize for this site not having any comments or ways to communicate with me. In addition to running my retail computer store, I manage several other sites for my wife and I and the shear pressure on those site by hackers, SEOs and the like make it a full time job just to keep the sites up and running. This site is here to give you some help in repairing your own computer. I simply do not have the time and patience to deal with retail customers all day and then help folks via this web site.

Thanks, Tom