Fixing malware infections is causing pain

by Andy Turner
Coastal Computers & Design

I usually get a handful of systems a year that I have to completely wipe and do a clean reinstall of Windows after serious malware infections, but I have noticed – as have many computer techs – that this more drastic cure is needed more often now to completely eradicate the problems.

The writers of this dangerous junk have become far more adept at ensuring that their ‘products’  often worm their way so far into the operating system that complete removal is near impossible. I now advise my customers that I will attempt removal for a certain amount of time but after that it simply becomes uneconomic to continue and we have to shift to a ‘backup your data and start from scratch’ approach. In consequence, the more usual hour to ninety minute job ends up as a 2-3 hour exercise. Also, the end result is usually more work when the customer gets the computer back home again – reinstalling printers and other software that they require.

Unfortunately, many customers have systems from the major manufacturers that  sometimes don’t come with Windows CDs or even ‘system restore’ disks or the restore partition data is damaged or incomplete and so the problem becomes even more time consuming and costly to fix. Reinstalling Windows itself isn’t too much of a drama – a reload of the version they have and possibly a phone call to Microsoft to get an new installation code to be able to activate it – it’s the locating of the necessary drivers for the hardware that can be painful. I usually always manage to find the right ones but the online search takes time. A LOT of time!

In summary then, these are the essential things you must do :

1. Ensure that all Windows Updates are downloaded and installed.
2. Keep your antivirus and antispyware applications updated and regularly scan for problems.
3. If you believe you are infected – get it fixed sooner rather than later.

Finally, if you are using Windows 98, ME or 2000 – and soon Windows XP as Microsoft is ending support for this version very soon – you are no longer safe online and you should not be using internet banking, online purchasing or any other activity that requires a secure system. There are no more Windows updates available for these systems and no security software can guarantee your online safety if you are using these old versions.

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