Malware: types, protection, prevention, detection and removal

This article provides important information about the types, symptoms, protection, prevention, detection, and removal of malware (computer virus, ransomware, spyware, adware, rootkits, trojan horse, worms, etc.).

This article is the result of several well-known sources.

What is malware?

Malware short for malicious software is software that is specifically designed to damage or disrupt a system, steal information (spy on you), or destroy data. (1)

Malware is a broad term used to describe many different types of malicious programs.

Malware types

Common Malware types are:

Malware symptoms (signs)

Some Malware symptoms (signs)(11) are:

Malware protection tips

The BEST malware protection is YOU.

Look:

You can have the best malware protection on your computer, but even the best anti-malware (antivirus) software can fail to detect new malware. (12)

Malware threats have grown significantly in the past decade. These threats grow so fast, that antivirus programs take too long to catch up with malware (even the best programs). (13)

Therefore, the best protection is yourself.

You might be wondering:

What does he exactly mean?

Well, if you do any of the following:

Then there's a big chance that your computer will get infected with malware.

There's no better malware protection than yourself, so pay attention to everything you do, online and offline.

And now:

Antivirus software (free and paid)

You should always use antivirus software on your computer – even when antivirus programs can't protect you 100% against all malware.

But:

It's better to have some protection than no protection at all.

And:

Good antivirus software can protect you against most known malware.

You should always install and use only one (1) antivirus program on your computer.

Using multiple antivirus programs on a PC is a very bad idea! (14) Why?

There are so many free and paid antivirus programs out there that it's difficult to choose one.

If you are looking for a paid antivirus program, then I recommend Bitdefender because Bitdefender has always top results in antivirus tests (AV-tests), like AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives.

If you are looking for a free antivirus program, then I recommend the free version of Bitdefender.

Free second opinion malware scanners

It's also recommended to use second opinion malware scanners to get more complete detection coverage, because some programs may detect malware that others might miss.

A few good free second opinion malware scanners are:

You can use these scanners to scan your PC periodically (e.g once a week) or when you think your PC is infected.

You can use malware scanners alongside your current antivirus software. Which means you get the chance to use other antivirus software on your PC without any problems.

Free anti-ransomware tools

The number 1 protection against ransomware is creating regular backups of your important files.

If you don't have an antivirus program with ransomware protection built-in, then you can use one of the following free anti-ransomware tools:

You can use anti-ransomware tools alongside your current antivirus software.

Additional security software

You can use the following programs alongside your current antivirus software.

Malware prevention tips

You can prevent malware by following these tips:

trick to install malware on your computer

Malware detection and removal

I will show you step by step how to detect and remove (get rid of) malware from your infected PC in a few different ways using free second opinion malware scanners (malware removal tools).

The good thing about second opinion malware scanners is, that you can use them alongside your current antivirus software.

Important tips!

  1. Create a system restore point. If something goes wrong you can restore the mistake with a system restore point.
  2. Always scan your PC with multiple second opinion malware scanners to get more complete detection coverage, because some programs may detect malware that others might miss.
  3. Always double check the results of each scan and make sure that nothing important is selected for removal. Even malware scanners can make mistakes and sometimes see something harmless as a threat.
  4. If you are having problems installing and/or opening second opinion malware scanners, then start Windows in "Safe Mode with Networking" and try again. Jump to: How to start Windows in "Safe Mode with Networking" (located on this page).

Recommended solution

If your computer is infected with malware (computer virus, spyware, rootkit, trojan horse, worm, etc.), and you want to be 100% sure that your system will be clean, then the best solution is to reinstall Windows or restore a system image backup that's 100% clean.

Why?

Well, if your antivirus (anti-malware) software detected malware, then you will never know for sure if that's the only piece of malware that has infected your system.

Malware can nestle itself deeper into your system and hide so that it can't be discovered by your security software and it can also open doors to other malware.

Now:

I know that most people don't want to reinstall Windows or don't have a system image backup, so that's why I will show you step by step how to remove malware from your infected PC in a few different ways.

Step 1: Delete temporary files

Deleting your temporary files can speed up the scanning process and also free up disk space.

You don't need to install any extra software, because Windows has a built-in tool called Disk Cleanup.

1. Open Windows Disk Cleanup.

Three ways to open this tool:

2. Select the Windows drive (when asked for and if not already selected).

(C:) is the default installation location for Windows.

3. Click on OK.

The tool will now calculate how much disk space you will be able to free on your system drive.

4. Select the type of files you want to delete.

I always select everything.

5. Click on OK.

6. Click on Delete Files.

This may take a while. The time it takes depends on how many files need to be deleted. When it's finished the tool will close by itself.

Step 2: Full system scan with your antivirus software

Look:

Your antivirus program may have missed the malware that has infected your PC the first time.

But:

Antivirus companies update their virus definitions hourly, daily or weekly, so it's possible that the malware that has infected your PC has been added in the last update.

First, you update your antivirus software and then run a full system scan with the program.

Step 3: Kaspersky TDSSKiller

Kaspersky TDSSKiller detects and removes rootkits:

You can download the latest official version of Kaspersky TDSSKiller here.

1. Start TDSSKiller.

2. Accept the End User License Agreement.

3. Accept the KSN Statement.

4. Click on Change parameters.

5. Select Detect TDLFS file system.

6. Click on OK.

7. Click on Start scan.

TDSSKiller will now scan your computer for rootkits. This process can take up to 30 seconds.

When the scan is completed it will show you the results of the scan.

8. If malware is detected, you click on Continue to remove the malware.

Step 4: Malwarebytes

You can download Malwarebytes here (note: to download the free version, you will have to scroll down to the bottom of the page and then click on DOWNLOAD 14 DAY TRIAL. You will get the Premium version for the first 14 days and after the 14 days, it will turn into the free version – which is an on-demand malware scanner).

When you install Malwarebytes it will automatically enable a two-week trial version of the premium version, but if you don't want the two-week trial, then you can easily disable it in the settings.

Enable Scan for rootkits

You will only have to change the following setting once.

1. Start Malwarebytes.

2. Click on Settings in the left sidebar.

3. Click on Protection at the top.

4. Go to Scan Options.

5. Turn on Scan for rootkits.

enable scan for rootkits in malwarebytes

Scan for Malware

1. Open Malwarebytes.

2. Click on Scan Now.

Malwarebytes will now scan your computer for malware. This process can take up to 15 minutes.

When the scan is completed it will show you the results of the scan.

3. If malware is detected, you click on Remove Selected to remove the malware.

Malwarebytes may ask you to restart your PC.

Step 5: Zemana Antimalware

You can download Zemana Antimalware here (for the download button of the free version you will have to scroll down to the comparison table).

1. Start Zemana Antimalware.

2. Click on the Scan button.

Zemana will now scan your computer for malware. This process can take up to 10 minutes.

When the scan is completed it will show you the results of the scan.

3. If malware is detected, you click on the Next button to remove the malware.

Step 6: Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool

You can download Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool here.

1. Start Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool.

2. Accept the End User License Agreement.

3. Click on Change parameters.

4. Select (check) System drive and click on OK.

5. Click on Start scan.

Kaspersky will now scan your computer for malware. This process can take up to 40 minutes.

When the scan is completed it will show you the results of the scan.

6. If malware is detected, you click on Continue to remove the malware.

Step 7: ESET Online Scanner

You can download ESET Online Scanner here.

Click on SCAN NOW to download this tool.

1. Start ESET Online Scanner.

2. Accept the Terms of Use.

3. Choose one of the following two options:

4. Click on Scan.

ESET will now scan your computer for malware. This process can take up to 40 minutes.

When the scan is completed it will show you the results of the scan.

5. If malware is detected, you choose one of the following two options:

6. Now you will have the following (optional) option Delete application's data on close.

7. Click on Finish.

Step 8: Emsisoft Emergency Kit

You can download Emsisoft Emergency Kit here.

1. Open Emsisoft Emergency Kit.

2. Click on Malware Scan.

Emsisoft may ask you to detect potentially unwanted programs (PUPs).

Emsisoft will now scan your computer for malware. This process can take up to 15 minutes.

When the scan is completed it will show you the results of the scan.

3. If malware is detected, you choose one of the following two options to remove the malware:

How to start Windows in Safe Mode with Networking

If you are having problems installing and/or opening second opinion malware scanners, then start Windows in Safe Mode with Networking and try again.

Booting into Safe Mode with Networking will only load the minimum required programs and services.

This mode may also prevent certain Malware from loading automatically when Windows starts.

This could help to remove certain Malware easier since it's not running and active.

How to start Windows in Safe Mode with Networking in Windows XP, Vista and 7

1. Start your PC and keep tapping on the [F8] key repeatedly until a menu appears.

2. When the Advanced Boot Options menu appears, you select Safe Mode with Networking.

3. Press Enter.

How to start Windows in Safe Mode with Networking in Windows 8 and 8.1

Method 1

1. Start your PC and keep tapping on the [F8] key repeatedly until a menu appears.

2. When the Advanced Boot Options menu appears, you select Safe Mode with Networking.

3. Press Enter.

Method 2

1. Click on the Start menu button.

2. Click on the power button.

3. Hold the [Shift] key down and click on Restart.

An options menu will appear.

4. Click on Troubleshoot.

5. Click on Advanced options.

6. Click on Startup Settings.

7. Click on Restart to restart your PC.

8. When the Startup settings menu appears, you press the [5] key on your keyboard for Safe Mode with Networking.

How to start Windows in Safe Mode with Networking in Windows 10

1. Click on the Start menu button.

2. Click on the power button.

3. Hold the [Shift] key down and click on Restart.

An options menu will appear.

4. Click on Troubleshoot.

5. Click on Advanced options.

6. Click on Startup Settings.

7. Click on Restart to restart your PC.

8. When the Startup settings menu appears, you press the [5] key on your keyboard for Safe Mode with Networking.

That's all. Hopefully, you learned enough about malware to keep your PC clean and safe. If you want to learn more about computer and Internet security (cybersecurity), then please visit one of the following pages (after the ad).


Maybe you're also interested in:

Important computer and internet security tips

Computer virus: Types, symptoms, protection, and removal

How to remove malware (virus) from your Windows 7, 8 or 10 PC

Windows 10 security tips and is Windows Defender good enough?


Reference(s):

Wikipedia: Malware

Webopedia: Spyware

Wikipedia: Adware

TechTarget: Rootkit

Kaspersky: Trojan Horse

Norton: Worm

Kaspersky: Computer viruses vs worms

TrendMicro: Ransomware

Webopedia: Keylogger

Norton: Botnet

HeimdalSecurity: Warning signs that your computer is malware-infected

LastLineLabs: Antivirus isn't dead, it just can't keep up

GCN: Is antivirus now useless?

Kaspersky: Why using multiple antivirus programs is a bad idea

Microsoft: Stop using SMB1

TheWindowsClub: Why and how to disable SMB1 on Windows 10/8/7