14 Free Tools To Help You Hunt Down And Destroy Tough Malware

imageChoosing and using the right tool, which has been designed specifically for the job at hand, is obviously a levelheaded approach. Still, I’ll wager that you can conjure up more than one occasion when you’ve encountered the “one tool for all purposes” mindset – the so-called “Birmingham Screwdriver” effect (sorry Michael   Smile) – “If it doesn’t work – hit it. If it still doesn’t work, use a bigger hammer.”

The Birmingham Screwdriver approach, taken by many AV solutions, may not always be the most appropriate approach to eradicating a tough malware problem – a specially designed application which targets specific classes of malware may be a better solution.

The following tools have been specifically designed to help skilled users better identify malware infections and then, eradicate those specific infections. These tools require advanced computer knowledge – unless you feel confident in your diagnostic skills, you should avoid them.

Should you choose to add these applications to your antimalware toolbox, be aware that you will need the latest updated version for maximum efficiency.

Emsisoft HiJackFree

The program operates as a detailed system analysis tool that can help you in the detection and removal of Hijackers, Spyware, Adware, Trojans, Worms, and other malware. It doesn’t offer live protection but instead, it examines your system, determines if it’s been infected, and then allows you to wipe out the malware.


If you’re a malware hunter, and you’re in the market for a free system utility which will scan your system for running programs, autostart locations, drivers, services and hijack points, then Runscanner should make your shortlist. The developers of Runscanner describe this freeware utility as having been designed to “detect changes and misconfigurations in your system caused by spyware, viruses, or human error.”


HijackThis is a free utility which heuristically scans your computer to find settings that may have been changed by homepage hijackers, spyware, other malware, or even unwanted programs. In addition to this scan and remove capability HijackThis comes with several tools useful in manually removing malware from a computer.

The program doesn’t target specific programs, but instead it analyses registry and file settings, and then targets the methods used by cyber-crooks. After you scan your computer, HijackThis creates a report, and a log file (if you choose to do so), with the results of the scan.


RKill is a program developed at BleepingComputer.com – “It was created so that we could have an easy to use tool that kills known processes that stop the use of our normal anti-malware applications. Simple as that. Nothing fancy. Just kill known malware processes so that anti-malware programs can do their job.”

Emsisoft BlitzBlank

BlitzBlank is a tool for experienced users and all those who must deal with Malware on a daily basis. Malware infections are not always easy to clean up. In more and more cases it is almost impossible to delete a Malware file while Windows is running. BlitzBlank deletes files, Registry entries and drivers at boot time before Windows and all other programs are loaded.

McAfee Labs Stinger

Stinger is a stand-alone utility used to detect and remove specific viruses. It is not a substitute for full anti-virus protection, but rather a tool to assist administrators and users when dealing with an infected system. Stinger utilizes next generation scan engine technology, including process scanning, digitally signed DAT files, and scan performance optimizations.

Specialty Removal Tools From BitDefender

Eight special removal tools including Conficker Removal Tool

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool

This tool checks your computer for infection by specific, prevalent malicious software (including Blaster, Sasser, and Mydoom) and helps to remove the infection if it is found. Microsoft will release an updated version of this tool on the second Tuesday of each month.


NoVirusThanks Malware Remover is an application designed to detect and remove specific malware, Trojans, worms and other malicious threats that can damage your computer. It can also detect and remove rogue security software, spyware and adware. This program is not an Antivirus and does not protect you in real time, but it can help you to detect and remove Trojans, spywares and rogue security software installed in your computer.

Norton Power Eraser

Symantec describes Norton Power Eraser in part, as a tool that “takes on difficult to detect crimeware known as scareware or rogueware. The Norton Power Eraser is specially designed to aggressively target and eliminate this type of crimeware and restore your PC back to health.”

Rootkit Tools:

If you think you might have hidden malware on your system, I recommend that you run multiple rootkit detectors. Much like anti-spyware programs, no one program catches everything.

Microsoft Rootkit Revealer

Microsoft Rootkit Revealer is an advanced root kit detection utility. Its output lists Registry and file system API discrepancies that may indicate the presence of a user-mode or kernel-mode rootkit. According to Microsoft, Rootkit Revealer successfully detects all persistent rootkits published at http://www.rootkit.com, including AFX, Vanquish and Hacker Defender.


IceSword is a very powerful software application that will scan your computer for rootkits. It also displays hidden processes and resources on your system that you would be unlikely to find in any other Windows Explorer like program. Because of the amount of information presented in the application, please note that IceSword was designed for more advanced users.


This freeware tool is essentially a combination of Sysinternals’ Rootkit Revealer and Process Explorer. The program can list running processes, modules and Windows services, in addition to scanning for the presence of rootkits.

Tizer Rootkit Razor

Tizer Rootkit Razor, will allow you to identify and remove Rootkits from your computer. I should be clear however, this tool is not “one-click simple” to decipher, and users need to be particularly mindful of false positives.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, rootkits, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

17 responses to “14 Free Tools To Help You Hunt Down And Destroy Tough Malware

  1. Darryl Gittins

    Nice job! I’ll be saving this one!

  2. Wayne

    I would toss in a plug for MalwareBytes.

  3. delenn13

    OK< I got here from an old post of Tech For Everyone.You know how it goes..read this article, click here and here..and an hour is gone. I am hooked. Thanks.

    • Hey Delenn13,

      Welcome aboard – good to have you here.

      BTW, I’ve been following your comments over at Paul Eckstrom’s place – looking forward to some of those insightful comments here. 🙂


  4. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    That’s a comprehensive list there, with some I hadn’t heard of. Which means more fun lies ahead trying them out lol. Probably a good time to mention tools like these, what with Christmas coming up and the scum/dirtbags/crooks dusting off their malware tools.

    • Hey Mal,

      All I keep hearing about on the Weather Channel is, you guys are getting ready to start summer and all that partying (again THIS year!). Sigh – you lucky bugger. 🙂

      BTW, I knew you’d need something to do over Christmastime – and, so the list.



  5. Hi Bill, it’s been a while, bit I always read your excellent articles. Merry Christmas!

    • Well, well! Radamés, how are you? Great to hear from you.

      There must be something to this ESP thingy – I was thinking of you this past week, and wondering how you were getting on with this years University class.

      The best of the Christmas season to you and your family. Maybe I’ll ship some snow down your way for Christmas Day. Snow in Puerto Rico – now that would be a sight! 🙂



  6. Grr

    Thanks Bill, nice list..

    sharing over forums..

    Thanks, Grr

  7. Pingback: 14 Free Tools To Help You Hunt Down And Destroy Tough Malware

  8. Ken

    The best I have found is Kapersky Rescue CD. Usually 200+ meg download to burn an ISO boot cd. Sometimes takes 2 hours to run.

    It found a hidden partition where the trogan was hidding & removed it. A fresh install would not overwrite it, and the best partition managers could not see it. Other tech’s had given up as it would boot everytime with XP.

    So now, I only run their A/V apps with Emsisoft anti-malware.

    Hope this helps,

  9. Hi Bill, very good list.

    IMO, it’ll be even better with SUPERAntiSpyware & MalwareByte’s.

    Best Regards,