Have a Virus? Let Malwarebytes Help

It can happen to anyone:  You turn on your computer and log in, only to find pop-up advertisements, search bars, a changed desktop background, and many screens warning that you may be infected with a virus.

virus1
Desktop background changed by a virus

One sign that you have been infected with a virus (or what can be referred to as malware) is the sudden appearance of new “security” software, such as AntiVirus 2009, Total Security Center, and System Security.  These programs are not valid anti-virus software, and will often warn you that your system is infected and then direct you to their site and request payment for running scans on your system.  It is important that you do not pay for these “services”.

system-security

Depending on the severity of the virus infection, the usability of your computer may range from moderately usable with moderate pop-ups, to random restarts, system errors, and blue screens of death.

Although the situation may seem dire, there is hope.  Malwarebytes is a free program that swiftly remove virus and malware infections.

Using Malwarebytes

Start by downloading the free version of Malwarebytes.  Before finishing the installation, be sure that the check boxes for “Updating Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware” and “Launching Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware” are checked.

When the program has launched, select Perform full scan to scan your entire hard drive. and click Scan.  The full scan will take quite a bit of time, so if you’re in a hurry select the Perform quick scan option.

scan1

On the next screen, select the drives you wish to let Malwarebytes scan.  Although the default C: drive may be sufficient, I would recommend scanning all attached drives.  Click Start Scan to start the virus scan.  Depending on the size of your drives and the amount of data stored on them, a full scan may take well over an hour.

When the scan has completed, the results will be shown.  Click Show Results and click Remove Selected Items to remove the virus infection from your system.  Depending on the virus, it may be necessary to reboot your system to completely remove some items.

scan-results
Malwarebytes Scan Results

Tips for improving scan performance

Run the scan in Safe mode

Many times a virus will embed itself into a running system file.  Malwarebytes will not always be able to remove virus items that are embedded in running processes.  The easiest way to reduce the number of running processes is to boot into Windows Safe mode.  To enter Windows Safe mode, repeatedly press the F8 key when first booting your computer.

Update software before each use

It is important that you update the virus database before you perform a scan.  Click the Update tab on the Malwarebytes main window and click Check for Updates.  After the update has been finished, you can then continue with the scan as shown above.

Multiple scans

Although Malwarebytes may be successful, it may be possible that not all parts of the virus were removed during the scan.  It can be helpful to perform a second scan of the system to verify that all items were removed.

Conclusion

Although it is important to take steps to prevent a virus infection, Malwarebytes can be a useful program for removing malicious software.  Your first defense to preventing a virus infection is to have up-to-date virus software.  A free anti-virus solution is Microsoft Security Essentials.  Above all, smart internet browsing will be the best way to avoid malware.

Looking for Free Virus, Spyware, and Malware Protection? Try Microsoft Security Essentials

ms-security-essentials-scanningsmallrightWindows only:  Microsoft has just released the public version of their free virus, spyware, and malware protection suite dubbed Microsoft Security Essentials (the successor to their lesser-known Live OneCare product which offered similar features).  Security Essentials is a quick download and simple installation, giving users clear and easy-to-use indications whether your PC is secure or not.

Installing Security Essentials took approximately 60 seconds (not including updating the virus definition files) and my first Quick scan was completed in about 5 minutes.  The Full Scan took significantly more time, but this will be dependent on your processor speed and the size of your hard drive.  The software itself used around 60 MB of RAM while performing a virus scan, which is fairly light compared to other commercial anti-virus products.

ms-security-essentials-scanning

Security Essentials offers a simple interface, allowing users to select Quick scan, Full scan, or use custom settings from the Home screen.  Updating the software can be easily done in the Update tab, and the software also utilizes your system’s Windows Update service to stay up-to-date.

ms-security-essentials-home

Since Security Essentials only offers virus, spyware, and malware protection, this software isn’t intended to compete with full-fledged commercial security suites.  Security Essentials provides good basic protection for normal use and is a great contender in the free protection market.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download for Windows XP, Vista, and 7 (but you will have to validate your copy of Windows before installation).  [Download]

Encrypt Your Data with BitLocker

bitlockerData security is more important than ever in modern times, so to help keep your files safe, Windows Vista (Enterprise and Ultimate editions), Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 include an encryption program called BitLocker.

BitLocker is essentially a software encryption program that encrypts a drive in such a way that if credentials are not verified, it renders the drive completely useless to thieves.  In Windows 7 and Server 2008, BitLocker extends support to removable drives by storing a copy of itself locally on the encrypted drive and and installing itself as needed on any additional computer.

How to Use BitLocker

To enable BitLocker, open My Computer, right click the drive you would like to encrypt, and select “Turn on BitLocker”.

bitlocker_rightclickIn the next screen, you will be asked if you want to use a password or a smart card to unlock the drive.  Since the average user doesn’t have a smart card, we’ll be sticking with a password for this guide.

bitlocker_setpass2_usethisAfter clicking the Next button, you’ll be asked how you want to store your recovery key.  It is a good idea to store this somewhere safe; you’ll need it if you ever lock yourself out of the drive.  This key can be printed or stored in a file.

bitlocker_storekeyTo actually start the encryption process, you need to click “Start Encrypting” in the next window.  Encryption speed will vary on the size, speed, and connection of the drive you are securing.

bitlocker_readyencryptbitlocker_encryptingOnce the encryption process is finished, you’ll see an “Encryption is complete” message.  You can then check out your drive by going to My Computer – you’ll now see that the drive icon is different, indicating it is now secured with BitLocker.

bitlocker_securedriveIf you ever need to change the password on your drive you can simply right click the drive and select “Manage BitLocker”.  You will then be presented with a screen giving you several options including the ability to change or remove the password.

bitlocker_changepassFor more information about BitLocker, check out Microsoft’s BitLocker Feature Guide.

Flashreview: Power Support Anti-Glare Film for iPhone/iPod Touch

filmIn this day and age, you don’t buy electronics (especially touchscreen electronics) without investing into some form of screen protection.  For  devices such as the iPhone or iPod Touch, screen protectors can also improve the responsiveness of the device by improving the screen’s traction.

The product: I stumbled upon Power Support’s Anti-Glare Film for the iPhone/iPod Touch, which is available from Power Support USA as well as the Apple Store.  This product boasts a “custom-fit film that will reduce the visual impacts of glare and finger printing while providing scratch protection”.  Included in the package were two anti-glare films (one for the front and another for the back) as well as a pre-installation film which was for removing dirt and dust from the screen. Continue reading “Flashreview: Power Support Anti-Glare Film for iPhone/iPod Touch”