2010
08.04

Spywarez

Updated 08-04-2010

From the Microsoft Security Web site

Spyware symptoms

If your computer starts to behave strangely, you might have spyware or other unwanted software installed on your computer.

* I see pop-up advertisements all the time. Some unwanted software will bombard you with pop-up ads that aren’t related to a particular Web site you’re visiting.These ads are often for adult or other Web sites you may find objectionable. If you see pop-up ads as soon as you turn on your computer or when you’re not even browsing the Web, you might have spyware or other unwanted software on your computer.

* My settings have changed and I can’t change them back to the way they were. Some unwanted software can change your home page or search page settings. Even if you adjust these settings, you might find that they revert back every time you restart your computer.

* My Web browser contains additional components that I don’t remember downloading. Spyware and other unwanted software can add toolbars to your Web browser that you don’t want or need. Even if you remove these toolbars, they might return each time you restart your computer.

* My computer seems sluggish. Spyware and other unwanted software are not designed to be efficient. The resources these programs use to track your activities and deliver advertisements can slow down your computer and errors in the software can make your computer crash. If you notice a sudden increase in the number of times a certain program crashes, or if your computer is slower than normal at performing routine tasks, you may have spyware or other unwanted software on your machine.

If any of this sounds familiar, please read on.

You Haz A Spyware

First of all, there is no “sure fire” way to explain in a document how to rid yourself of all spyware and browser hijacks. Depending on the level of infestation this process will either eliminate all or, at the very least, most of the problems you might be experiencing as a result of this epidemic. In some cases the infestation is so deep and so pervasive that a skilled technician is required to sit down at the troubled PC and duke it out using all the skills he has to literally rip the infection out and still maintain the functionality of the computer.

The first thing you want are the tools. There are numerous companies offering programs that claim to remove spyware from your computer. Some are legitimate and others are not. Some are free and others are not. The first step will be for you to download and install these program onto the computer you are working with.

The first tool I suggest is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. Possibly the best spyware removal tool I have found. The company offers a free version for personal use which works without needing to pay for it. But BE CAREFUL!!! When you click on the link to the free trial download the page you go to may have ads on the page for other programs. These ads are usually marked in fine print. DO NOT BE TRICKED INTO DOWNLOADING ANYTHING OTHER THAN MALWAREBYTES ANTI-MALWARE!

When installed and running, Malwarebytes will look like this:

If what you download and install looks different, or is called something other than Malwarebytes, you have downloaded the wrong program. Uninstall it and try again.

The second tool I recommend is called Hitman Pro 3 by SurfRight. This tool is free for 30 days and will remove some very nasty rootkits and other spyware infections. It has found and removed problems that Malwarebyte has missed completely.

When installed and you first run it, the program will look like this.

Again, if what you download and install looks different, or is called something other than Hitman Pro, you have downloaded the wrong program. Uninstall it and try again.

With both Malwarebytes and Hitman Pro you will want to make sure and update the programs after you install them to make sure you have the latest versions and the most up-to-date spyware definition files.

The third tool I suggest is Norman TDSS Cleaner. You’ll need to click on the Removal tab to access the download. When up and running it will look like this:

Once you scan your computer with these programs I suggest you let them remove anything they detect. In some cases these programs may request that you reboot your computer to complete the removal. I suggest you let them do this.

At this time I believe these three tools to be the most effective for spyware removal. Keep in mind that some spyware will actually block your ability to run the removal tools. If you encounter this, you may need to download the above tools on another computer and then move them to the infected computer via a thumb or flash drive and install them.

Advanced Removal Tools

For more advanced spyware removal there is a tool called Hijack This. Be careful with this tool. It will show you all the things that load when you start your PC and allow you to remove them. This tools shows the good and the bad and makes NO distinction between the two.


Another tool you might want to have on hand is Combofix. It’s not the most glamorous or slick looking anti-spyware tool around, and it is not the most intuitive. But it has fixed spyware issues that other programs don’t seem to be able to handle. If you can follow simple directions, you might give this one a whirl and see if it takes care of the problem.

If you get really stuck, and cannot get rid of the spyware infection I suggest you have a look BleepingComputer.com, a free community where computer users come together to discuss and learn how to use their computers in an atmosphere that is both helpful and welcoming. With over 160,000 registered members asking and answering questions, BleepingComputer.com has become a vibrant and lively community of like-minded people. BleepingComputer is paid for completely by advertisement revenue and the staff are all volunteers. What this means is that any support and advice you receive from this site is completely free.

These guys are a great resource and may be able to help you out of a jam.

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