You don’t have to do much to get infected nowadays. Open the wrong email or click the wrong add and you’ve got yourself a nice piece of malware or ransomware that has decided to take control of your device and play with your sensitive data. Without an antivirus protection, you are completely naked and at the disposal of any virus you might encounter. Fortunately, there are a couple of solutions and you can save your device.
Removing malware and spyware with Malwarebytes
To scan and remove malware we are going to use Malwarebytes. This free piece of software has a 99% detection rate and can save your important files from unwanted and malicious software. If you are unable to access the internet, which could happen if the Malware redirects you from your pages, use another computer and move the installation file on a flash drive.
Go to https://www.malwarebytes.com/ and select Free Download.
Head to your Downloads folder and look for a file called mb3-setup-consumer-3.1.2. Open it.
Select your desired language and click Ok.
Click Next 3 times. Make sure Create a desktop shortcut is checked and click Next.
After the installation is complete, click Finish.
If Malwarebytes does not start automatically, run it from the desktop shortcut. There a quite a few options available, but you needn’t concern yourself with them. Click Scan Now.
Here you can choose from Threat Scan and Custom Scan, Hyper Scan being premium only. Click Custom Scan and then click Configure Scan.
Select all the items to be scanned for (orange square) then check all your drives (purple square). Click Scan Now. Depending on the size of your drives, it can take hours for the scan to complete. Be patient and leave it be.
If the scan finds any malware, it will place it in quarantine and then ask you to restart your computer in order to remove them. Otherwise, click Close.
While Malwarebytes is an excellent tool for removing malware and unwanted programs, its active protection isn’t worth your money. You are better off with complete solutions such as Bitdefender or Kaspersky.
Removing malware and spyware with Bitdefender Rescue CD
If you got heavily infected and you can install or run programs of any kind, then you are going to need a stronger solution. Bitdefender Rescue CD is a Linux distribution which you can boot to remove malware. Being based on Linux, the viruses can’t start so their removal is imminent. You are going to require a flash drive or a blank CD. The drive must have at least 1 GB in size,
Head to http://download.bitdefender.com/rescue_cd/latest/bitdefender-rescue-cd.iso and a file called bitdefender-rescue-cd.iso will be downloaded. Go to http://download.bitdefender.com/rescue_cd/latest/stickifier.exe. Another file will be downloaded, this one is called stickifier.exe.
Empty your flash drive and head to your Downloads folder. Run Stickifier. Check the second option (green square) and browse to ISO file. Click Next.
Select the Removable drive then click Next.
Restart your device and boot from the USB drive. The usual boot key is F12, but it would depend on your motherboard. Choose your language then hit Enter.
After the booting process has finished, you have a perfectly usable operating system. If you know where the malware file is or you want to quickly recover important data, click File System. From the left (purple square), choose the drive you want to explore. In case you want to copy files, just plug in another flash drive and copy the files on the new one. However, there is the risk that you might also copy the virus. Double click Antivirus Scanner to start the scanning procedure.
Check the License Agreement checkbox and click Continue.
If you are connected to the internet, the virus definitions will now be updated. Depending on your internet speed, this could take a while. Even if it looks like it’s stuck, leave it be.
When finished, click Scan Now.
Select the folder or drive you want to scan and click Open.
The scanning will now start. At the end, a list of all your issues will be displayed. Fix them (a new button will appear), then reboot your device.
Protection and Prevention
Here are a couple of guidelines so that you won’t get into a situation like this again:
- Have a real-time antivirus protection. A good antivirus solution will malware from infecting your device. Bitdefender is the best out there at the moment and right after it is Kaspersky.
- Don’t open email and attachments from strangers. That’s how ransomware is spreading.
- Don’t disable Windows Updates. Most recent attacks are based on Windows exploits which are only fixed by the recent updates.
- Use an adblocker and don’t click on ads that don’t look right.
- Scan the files you have downloaded before opening them. Any antivirus solution can do that.
- Scan your device weekly. You never know what might be hiding in the depths of your drives.
- Scan any flash drives you connect to make sure they don’t contain any malware.
- Don’t connect to networks you don’t trust. Some viruses spread all across the network.
- Backup your data often. In case of a system lock-down you won’t be left with nothing.