To remove malware manually from a system, follow these basic steps:
- On a separate computer, download a malware-removal tool like McAfee Stinger (or another similar tool from a major antivirus vendor) and save it to a USB drive. You may need to use other similar tools depending on the specific malware. Download the installer and updated definition files from whatever antimalware/antivirus software used at your organization.
- Boot your computer into safe mode.
- Run McAfee Stinger on the infected computer to remove the malware. You may need to use the additional tools that you downloaded earlier if McAfee Stinger didn't remove the malware. If you can't run one of these tools, you'll need to manually fix the file associations. There are some good guides and directions on the Microsoft website; check out these Windows XP malware removal instructions.
- After installing or updating the antimalware or antivirus software on the machine, run a full system scan.
To prevent this in the future, be sure the account you normally log in with does not have elevated or administrator-level privileges (savvy hackers can exploit admin-level user accounts quite easily), and always install and update antimalware and antivirus software (if both are not included in your preferred software). If you login with an account with elevated privileges, you may need to contact your IT department to change your account to remove your elevated privileges.
This was first published in May 2010