Cleaning an infected PC

Although written in 2013, this PC World article “When malware strikes: How to clean an infected PC” still is a useful reference for dealing with malware.

You work hard to protect your PC from the malicious thugs of our digital world. You keep your antivirus program up to date. You avoid questionable Web sites. You don’t open suspicious email attachments. You keep Java, Flash, and Adobe Reader up-to-date—or better yet, you learn to live without them.

1. Verify the infection
2. Check for sure signs of malware
3. Check online for possible fixes
4. Assume that your old virus scanner is compromised
5. Use a lightweight scanner inside Safe Mode
6. Remember: The second scan’s the charm
7. Look to Linux as your last line of defense
8. Protect your newly disinfected PC

Some of my clients have tried System Restore to return their PCs to a healthy state. Hit-and-miss. Some of the comments on PC World’s article discuss this approach.

Another comment on PC World’s article noted using a Ubuntu Live CD boot disc and the ClamAV program to scan your PC.

Another comment on the article noted something that I noticed as well, namely, no mention of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (MWB). MWB has proved extremely useful in my experience.

Just remember that most scams hack your “head” and not your computer. These scams try to get you to click on a seemingly benign link in an email or open an attachment claiming to contain important information about something. Or, inducing you to click somewhere in a scary “Your PC is infected” alert that pops up on your screen.