Spyware cleaning tips

I had real fun the other day cleaning a PC of spyware off a work PC!

Adware was already installed didn’t find a thing.

Spybot installed and then ran and stopped in 1 second, so was being blocked and therefore didn’t find a thing.

Microsoft Antispyware installed and found 56 processes/tasks/trjoans etc.

It managed to automatically clean all apart from 1 (a toolbar in Internet Explorer), which then nothing would even identify let alone clean. My saving grace came from a tool called HijackThis.

HijackThis is a small tool that is useful for cases when the scanners just don’t know of a particular flavor of spyware. It lists all browser extensions/processes/services/startup programs etc, and allows you to remove them. Word of warning: you have to know what it’s showing… typically people use it as a last resort and post logs to forums for the techies to take a gander at and offer advise. You can break your PC with it, so take care to ask if you don’t know.

I also would recommend anyone who thinks they have spyware to open the Task Manager and look at the Windows Process list.

For each process, do a google on it. E.g. search for ‘iexplore.exe’. The top few pages always give someone’s summary like ‘This is Microsoft Internet explorer’. As long as they are talking about programs you think you have installed, and they are not saying it is spyware, it’s safe so look at the next. Otherwise investigate that more by posting questions to forums, or reading other posts people have made.

Another thing Microsoft Antispyware does is blocks future installation of spyware. While I’m not always a pro-MS person, they actually have a neat product which is currently free, so why not try it…

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