Your guide to Scareware, and its common Issues
On 411-Spyware.com and the computer repair shop I work at, I’ve found that a lot of people use manual removal instructions to remove fake security software (AKA rogue anti-spyware software, or scareware) from their computer.
Using a paid antivirus/antispyware program is easier and more reliable, since manually removing infections can be tricky.
But for those of you who like the long road — yep, I’m raising my own hand here — , you may run into these common issues while removing fake antispyware.
I’ve got a list of files to delete, but Windows won’t let me delete them.
That’s because you are currently running the scareware, and Windows won’t let you delete files that are in use. Boot into Safe Mode (hold F8 at start up, and when the menu appears select “Safe Mode”).
This will prevent any programs automatically loading other than those that Windows needs to run. Delete your files from there and when you’re done, just reboot normally.
How am I supposed to delete this scareware when it generates popups every 20 seconds?
Once again, if you’re manually removing the files, you can use Safe Mode to make things easier. Some technicians advise using MSCONFIG to stop scareware from running.
I find this unnecessary as you can remove files in Safe Mode, and when you restart your computer you can see if it is still running and if there is anything else you have to remove.
The scareware won’t let me boot into Windows. I can’t do anything.
This is a very nasty tactic that some scareware uses. What makes it worse at that it even launches in Safe Mode, making your computer unusable.
Fortunately, not many scareware programs do this as it defeats the purpose of the scam. How can they get your money when you buy their fake software, if you can’t even get into Windows?
When I get infections like this I use a free program called VistaPE. Basically, VistaPE puts an operating system on CD that your computer can boot off. You can then view your hard drive and delete the scareware files that way. As you’re running off a CD, there is no way the infection can mess with the disk.
Follow this tutorial to make a VistaPE disk. Don’t worry about the advanced stuff. All you want to do is view and edit the contents of your hard drive. Once your disk is made, you may need to edit the boot order in your bios to make the CD/DVD drive the first boot device. Your computer manual will show you how to do this.
I’ve deleted all the files, but that damn scareware always comes back.
Scareware does have a habit of reappearing when you have think you’ve killed it, just like a horror movie monster.
This is happening because your scareware was put there by a Trojan. Right after you remove all the scareware files, the Trojan sees that you don’t have scareware on your computer, and happily provides you with one.
Even if the scareware you were infected with doesn’t reappear, you most likely have a Trojan running in the background. 90% of computers I see with scareware infections have a Trojan installed, too.
Trojans want to remain hidden, so even if you suspect there is one on there, you won’t know which one it is. The best way to find out is to download and run a legitimate antivirus/antispyware trial, like Spyware Doctor, and see what it finds.
If you really want to, you can see if there are manual removal instructions for your Trojan once you know its name (but I hope that by that stage you purchase software to remove it and any other nasty files it finds).
Please note most security software trial versions don’t allow you to install updates, so you may be infected with a Trojan that’s not in the default database.
That’s all the tips I have at the moment, if I find any more I’ll update the article.
If you have some tips or questions, please leave a comment.
Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Kristopher Dukes of 411-Spyware.com – an invaluable asset in the battle against malware. Pay a visit to 411-Spyware.com, and I’m convinced you’ll become a regular visitor.
The content of this article is copyright 2009 © by Dukes Media, LLC All rights reserved.