We have already seen in previous specials the great challenges in cybersecurity that are causing the increase in work and study from home due to the confinement against COVID-19. Simply, home networks are not as prepared as business networks where we normally work. Today we share tips on how to remove malware from a PC.
Surely our head is not equally prepared to fight against these virtual viruses. If we add malware of all kinds and for all platforms, data theft and invasion of privacy, which is increasing in number, we have a cocktail that is difficult to digest. All of this creates a huge opportunity for hackers.
How to remove malware from a PC, step by step
Prevention is the first and main line of defense. Based on common sense, it is vital to know where we browse, what applications we install or how we manage social networks, instant messaging or email, in addition to the support of a good security solution. Despite prevention, it is not always possible to stay safe from infection and any internet user will have had to deal with it on occasion.
If your computer is slower than normal, the system shows random errors, the web browser freezes struggling to get rid of strange ads or you cannot access your documents, surely you suffer from a digital infection by viruses, Trojans or worms that in addition to preventing Regular use of the equipment puts your data at risk.
If your antivirus has not detected it, cannot delete it or you did not have any security solution installed and the same virus or Trojan prevents you from installing it, it is time to face a complete cleaning process to eliminate it, following these recommended steps.
Regardless of the infection, the first thing we should do is to back up the data if we did not already have it, as it is highly recommended. Documents, photos, videos and any other type of personal or professional information that we cannot lose even if they are infected, to try to recover them later on a clean system.
Included in this group are the most tricky ones that will be infected by Ransomware (usually encrypted), but even those must be saved to try to save them later. Only copying them is understood. We cannot run them until they are cleaned because other computers can infect us.
One of the common features of any PC virus is the fact that they start alongside the operating system. In order to limit the damage to the computer and be able to save the files that interest us, on Windows systems we can try to boot in safe mode.
The Windows Safe Mode, also called “fail-safe” or “advanced boot” is a more basic and form of the beginning of the system that only loads drivers and services utility to find and troubleshoot the operating system that is not possible to resolve in a normal boot.
Another more advanced method to access the files of an infected computer is to use rescue disks (self-bootable from optical drives, USB sticks or external disks), both native Windows for system recovery, and specially prepared solutions especially for solving problems such as Hiren’s BootCD or Ultimate Boot CD.
Once we have our essential files safe, it is time to clean the PC virus. An action that will not always be possible depending on the malware in question. We attempt disinfection using a boot media to rescue against viruses. An effective means considering that a large majority of malware is loaded/hidden in memory. Making detection/removal difficult once the operating system starts.
All major security providers offer the ability to create them. Most are Linux in “Live CD” format (created and bootable from optical drives. USB sticks or external USB disks), which we can use on the PC regardless of the system. And without having to install anything on it. The ten best solutions we can use are:
- Kaspersky Rescue Disk.
- ESET SysRescue Live.
- Bitdefender Rescue CD.
- AVG Rescue CD.
- Panda SafeDisk.
- Trend Micro Rescue Disk.
- Norton Bootable Recovery Tool.
- Avira Rescue System.
- F-Secure Rescue CD.
Its operation is very simple. We boot the computer with the rescue medium created. Everyone updates the virus signature and the program. starting the scanning and disinfection of the malware in your case. From the Live CD file explorer, we can access the drive where the main system is installed. Useful if we want to delete a file or directly to make the backups that we saw previously.
If the process of removing malware was effective. Remove the rescue disk and try to boot the computer in the usual way. If possible, install the best security solution you have available and check it again for viruses. If the system works normally we go to check if all the applications that we had installed work correctly. Also drivers and drivers. Even if the operating system is clean and working, there may be damage.
If despite our efforts we have not been able to end the infection, we only have to reinstall the operating system. If we have a recovery partition or system disks like the ones HP offers for your computers, it will be the first thing to use to revert the computer to its factory state. It is necessary to perform a clean installation of the entire system, formatting the partition to ensure the elimination of the virus on the computer.
Finally, you can recover your data and applications without first scanning and disinfecting the data files that we had stored in the backup. Make sure they are cleaned properly before copying them back to your computer because they could be the cause of the infection and you have to repeat the whole process again. The same with the applications you want to reinstall.
Prevent further damage
The system partition is clean but we must also check the rest of the partitions and the entire local network because the virus has been able to get there and infect the computer again. You can check it with the rescue discs created previously and also with a security solution installed on the computer because today, with all the caution we have, it is difficult to keep a personal computer clean without any additional protection and at least. It is recommended to use the Windows Defender that comes installed on Windows systems.
We also recommend changing passwords. A good part of the current malware infects computers in order to obtain access to passwords. It is not unlikely that they are in the hands of third parties despite the fact that your system is clean. For this reason and after an infection, it is highly recommended to change all passwords, from the local ones for Windows authentication to those used in Internet services, especially those for financial services or electronic commerce.
Finally, insist on prevention as the first and main line of defense, observing due caution in the websites we browse. The applications we install, the receipt of emails and attachments, downloads or the use of social networks. Removing the malware is possible, but much better not having to go through that process.
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