If your computer has fallen prey to a computer virus or been otherwise compromised by hackers, the best course of action will be to wipe the computer and reinstall your operating system and programs. However, this is not practical in most cases – due to the presence of important data, lack of original installation material, lack of expertise, etc. So you have to resort to cleaning your computer by means of the following steps (applicable for MS Windows systems).
First, you need to make sure you have an effective anti-virus software in place and updated the latest virus definitions for the same.
If not, you should download and install an antivirus program like Avast, BitDefender or AVG. If infected by malware this can be troublesome over an active internet connection. If you have access to another system, it is advisable to download an offline installable version of the program and transfer it to the infected system.
After successfully installing the program, run a scan of your system to detect and cure your system of malware and infected files. If possible, it’s recommended to run a boot-up scan i.e., a scan performed immediately after the computer is started. Remember that this will take a considerable time.
For advanced troubleshooting, it’s advisable to reboot your computer into safe-mode. This can be done by pressing and holding the F8 key after switching on the computer and selecting “Safe Mode” from the boot options menu.
In Safe Mode, perform a full scan of your system using the anti-virus program.
You can also run a Rootkit Detection tool from Kaspersky Labs or Sophos. Both of these tools can detect quite a few, but not necessarily all rootkits. Sophos is the easier program among these two, but for those with advanced technical skills, Kaspersky’s tool provides more information about all hidden files and processes (including normal Windows processes).
You should also download and install an Anti-Spyware program like Spybot – Search and Destroy or Malwarebytes. These programs offer versions that are free for personal use and have solid reputations.
However, keep in mind that some of the adware/spyware alerts may be relatively innocent and are not indicative of any serious threat to your systems. In such cases, the alerts you need to be concerned about are primarily those that represent installed programs or browser plug-ins/add-ons that cannot be easily identified.
If you are on a corporate network or use a system provided by the organization, you might receive a security alert. In such cases, take a screenshot or save the anti-virus/anti-malware scan logs. Send them to System and Network Security to prove that your system has been successfully cleaned.
After following these steps, you should be free of any significant problems, and the system is probably working fine. However be wary of any erratic behavior that can crop up.
And if these steps do not resolve your issue, you should consider a whole rebuild/reinstall of your compromised system, its operating system, and installed programs.
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