Free Spy/Malware Remover

Somehow, I got some spyware/malware whatever on my computer just now and I’m not sure I’ve completely removed it. Most of the scanners do just that, scan and then ask for money to remove. Are there any free removers out there?

I won’t lie… I’m freaking out right now.

I did a system restore, and things seem better (I can actually access this site now) but I’m not convinced everything is good. I’m running ad-aware now, but is there anything better than that?

Spyware Search & Destroy

Ad-Aware

Between the two of them will sort out most wide-eyed innocent “how’d that get on here??” situations.

Now, if they don’t manage to sort them out between them, people will eagerly tell you “Oh my God! Reformat your C drive RIGHT NOW and reinstall! Then do it again right after the reinstall just to be safe!” I find it easy to say uncharitable things about these people, but, you know, I can still smell the smoke from the two-thousand-odd candles, whose flames are the very shrieks of the damned, that Jesus blew out again yesterday. So, you know, being charitable at least till the air clears.

Anyway, should that not work, go on over to Spywareinfo’s software downloads and nab “HijackThis”, which won’t directly remove anything for you, but will generate a log that’ll look like so much gibberish–but the key thing, it’s gibberish that the forums there can give you custom removal advice. Again, that’s only if ad-aware and/or s&d won’t take care of any mysterious infection.

Ad-Aware and Spybot are free, but Webroot’s SpySweeper is the best (and usually comes with a mail-in rebate to lighten the price tag), and in my case anyway, did find stuff the other two missed. Plus, it’s more configurable and easier to manage, and does its scans quicker (and smarter).

Hello! Microsoft anti spyware > *. Its very good and also very free.

No one program is the answer, using them all together is. Throw CWS Shredder into the mix. It and a bunch of other spyware removers are available here.

Alright, we were talking about it in IRC, and I think I’ve got everything under control. The system restore got rid of the homepage intrusion, and I can surf the web again with no problems. Adaware and Spybot (which I ran in safemode) both found and removed stuff. I used the free scanner at trendmicro.com and that found and removed some stuff. And Norton found the initial virus and I deleted that.

The only thing that is making me nervous is that when I run Spybot it finds the same piece of spyware everytime (some registry entries) and even if I remove it, it appears again.

MS does not detect/auto remove some software, like Claria. MS allows adware creators to make deals with them to prevent the auto-removal of their software. So I would not suggest MS anti spyware if you really want a clean machine.

Chet

Same here. I’ve had something called “DSO exploit” on my computer for like a year now.

Not a problem:
http://www.pchell.com/support/dsoexploit.shtml

That’s because Spybot is gay and is sniffing petunias when it should be squashing that shit. I still recommend Webroot’s Spysweeper, but a nice stopgap would be Spyware Blaster, which is a better real-time blocker than Spybot. Spybot appears to work because it cleans up those tenacious malware programs - which, as you’ve observed, recur about a picosecond after clean-up.

Also, it sounds like you got shit in your Registry. See if Regprot, Regseeker, or Regmon are any help (they’re all free).

To be honest, I don’t want to fuck around in my registry. That page that mono provided comforted me since I have all my IE and windows updates, so that DSO exploit doesn’t really bother me. I have noticed no slow down or any other problems, so I’m going to just let the whole issue rest.

However, in all the panic, I had to reinstall FEAR (because, I assume, of the restore point) and the DVD drive problem that I mentioned in the Tech support forum has come up again. Essentially, it won’t eject the CD, making it hard to install the 2nd disc needed for installation. I got it to work once by flashing the drive, but the autorun for the game still doesn’t work and now its gone back to not working properly. Again, this doesn’t happen with any other CDs (as far as I can tell) and I hope, as chet mentioned in that thread, that the whole drive isn’t broken because that would suck (even if Dell can replace it no problem).

The trouble with malware removers is that they are reactive. That is, they will only remove the spyware that they know about, and they will never know about the latest, newest spyware. My recommendation to you is not to get spyware in the first place…

Which means reformatting your hard-drive, installing Windows, patching it, installing anti-virus, a firewall, and spyware protection. Don’t install junk software, don’t use internet explorer, don’t use AIM, etc. Only trust the most expensive software money (symantec) can buy or open-source programs (firefox).

Keeping with this methodology I am proud to say that my desktop has been spyware free for as long as I’ve had it.

Also you might want to consider to have separate OS installs for gaming and work. Then you wouldn’t simultaneously screw up both your environments if a mishap happened.

Slander, libel, slander
http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/claria_letter.mspx

In general the article seems to reinforce his statement:

Microsoft offers all software companies the opportunity to request a review of how Microsoft classifies their products through our vendor dispute process. In January, Claria filed a request for Microsoft to reevaluate some of its products.

Also, what the letter doesn’t mention is that the recommended action is to ignore Claria:

Igor, what specific antispyware programs do you use?

JMR, I pretty much outlined my strategy a few posts above :). At home, I only use Windows for gaming (though I play native Linux games when possible) and light browsing/IM. I have used Ad-aware on friends’ computers and that seemed to help a lot. I have no need for such programs myself, maybe because of some of the things I do. At work is the same story, keep junk off your computer and Windows stays clean :). Once your computer is infected though, you won’t be able to clean 100% of the spyware out.

Nope, MS ignores them.

This is the big scam of claria. They redefined spyware, made it about an exact definition of spying, their definition. Their definition of spyware is so restrictive that only the worst of the worst can be called spyware. But the original definitions of software phoning home is still true of claria, and MS now says to ignore it. The anti-spyware people made a mistake early on by battling spyware, instead of saying they were generically battling bhos. It helped scare people, but it let people like 180 solutions and claria redefine the arguement and then claim - thats not what we do!!!

But hey, remember those ad popups empower the end user to save money on their online purchases. Yeah…

Chet

I’ve used about a half-dozen spyware removers, but none of them found the shit that Pest Patrol did. Even if you have spybot or ad-aware, try their pre-scan. After “cleaning” my PC with other removers, I ran Pest Patrol and found about 100 other hits that the previous ones missed. Although it defines some file-sharing software as a security risk (which I guess it is, depending on how you look at it) it’s also extremely comprehensive. The pre-scan will tell you if it’s worth buying.
http://www.pestpatrol.com/prescan.htm

Uh yeah, well, Spysweeper does - you get updates straight from their R&D database. A short while back, we had a monstro debate of this type here. I was on the Norton/Spybot/Adaware tip, and enough dudes around here expressed their misgivings. Since I needed new stuff for the new gaming rig I bought, I figured I’d throw down and try out PC-cillin antivirus and Spyweeper (I have a home network with a LinkSys router for a hardware firewall). Man, that’s all that bad boy needed, so I converted my work PC and my laptop (actually, I have PC-cillin Internet Security on it, since I use it off the router a lot). I mean, I didn’t have too many problems with Norton, but I got tired of it pretending every program that was made by a potential competitor was dangerous and labeling it as High Risk! as a way of fooling me into not using it or something.

Which means reformatting your hard-drive, installing Windows, patching it, installing anti-virus, a firewall, and spyware protection. Don’t install junk software, don’t use internet explorer, don’t use AIM, etc. Only trust the most expensive software money (symantec) can buy or open-source programs (firefox).

…and you’ll still get spyware and adware, incidentally. Symantec/Norton’s software is terrible at protecting against that stuff, also.

Keeping with this methodology I am proud to say that my desktop has been spyware free for as long as I’ve had it.

Also you might want to consider to have separate OS installs for gaming and work. Then you wouldn’t simultaneously screw up both your environments if a mishap happened.

Now this I get with. Keep the old rig when you upgrade to a new system, then do a phat clean-up (much like Igor suggests) and use it for work. It works out great, because when you break things down/up into “game PC” or “work PC,” you’ll find yourself nerfing a lot of unnecessary bullshit that would clog up your old rig.

That’s exactly the combination I recommend to all my customers.