So you think your computer has a little bug… time for Search & Destroy

Photo by Krycheck Cre

Pardon the nonsense in the subtitle. Sometimes I just gotta indulge my imagination. Anyway, what I’m about to describe will be much more boring compared to an actual exorcism.

Introduction

Previously, I covered tools one can use that typically come standard on all Windows machines, such as the Task Manager, the Startup Folder and MSConfig. These are handy and greatly underrated tools for diagnosing, preventing, and mitigating damage caused by malware. For individuals who aren’t computer-savvy, I always suggest using these tools first if someone notices symptoms on their computer.

However, these tools don’t catch everything. In fact, it’s good to keep in mind that no single tool will catch everything, and a suite of tools should be implemented to minimize cyber risks.

Most of you have probably used this next tool — a virus scanner. In this demonstration, I’m going to use the virus scanner from MalwareBytes, because 1) it’s free, and 2) it can detect malware that has tricked your current virus scanner from detecting it. This is why I emphasize implementing a suite of tools to combat malware. So, even if someone already has a virus scanner, then it’s not a bad idea to have two.

…even to just 1)download a second virus scanning software, 2)run a scan with it to double check your current virus scanner, and then 3)delete the second one once you’re done with it can be helpful.

Screenshot of the Malwarebytes website

PC Magazine also has a great list of several of the virus scanners available on the market. They provide very thorough and in-depth reviews of each one to help you make the most informed decision. Here’s two other virus scanners so you can compare them to Malwarebytes:

Anyway, the rest of this tutorial will display photos from using Malwarebytes only because it is known to catch malware that other scanners miss.

MalwareBytes

The free version provides you the virus scanner and other features to use at your convenience, whenever you want. With the premium version, live monitoring of threats is provided.

Anyway, I'm not recommending the premium version but it’s not a bad service for someone wanting that extra “peace of mind.” Anyway let’s get started with the virus scan.

download the software

After clicking on the “Start Free Download” button on their website, the download will begin and the browser will redirect to the page shown below. We’re done with their website now, so we’ll just exit out and return to the download.

open it up on your computer

Once the download & install is complete click “Done” and then click “Get Started.”

It will then present three options from which to choose. You can just ignore the noise and click “Maybe later,” unless you want the extra features.

It will then ask for your email, but you don’t have to provide it, unless you’re interested in their promotional emails. I’m not, so I just skipped that and clicked the “Get started” button.

run a scan

Alrighty! Finally, after jumping through all those hoops we can run a scan. As you can see below, simply just click the “Scan” button.

… and simply click “Scan” again. The “Advanced scanners” button provides more customized types of scans, which you can try out, but we’re going continue on with a general, full scan.

Now it scans. It shows what it’s scanning in real time, but that’s pretty standard with most virus scanners. However, like I mentioned before implementing a suite of tools is a good defense strategy when it comes to cyber security, even if that means a little redundancy.

quarantine/remove

So, the full scan is pretty fast. I ran it twice and it took less than 6 minutes to scan when I wasn’t running any other programs and it took about 10 minutes when I was. It’s pretty quick either way, and would you look at that! It found something.

In reality, the file it found is not actual malware. It’s crypto mining software that I used a couple of years ago. I don’t use this software anymore, so it’s not actually a bad idea for me to remove it from my computer since I’m not using it.

To remove the software, I’ll first check the box next to the name of the software under the “Name” column, and then click the “Quarantine” button.

… voilà, it is quarantined! Click “Done”

Then it will present you with some upselling promotions. I clicked the X button because now I want to remove the file we just quarantined.

After closing the promotional box, we’re back at the dashboard and to remove the quarantined file I click on the left tile that says “Detection History”

The window will redirect to show us a list of quarantined files. Just click the checkbox next to the name of the file, and then click “Delete.”

To double check if you really want to remove the file from the computer, malwarebytes will popup another window. I am abundantly sure that I want to delete this file from my computer. However, if you’re not certain about a file, just click on the file name under the “Name” column. It will then redirect to a webpage that provides more information regarding that type of file. It only provides generalized information for that category of file. If you want to be certain that the specific file is not malicious then you’ll have to search the exact filename in your favorite search engine and decide from the results.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I know that this specific file is not malicious, even though it is classified as such. Nonetheless, I don’t use it anymore so I’m going to remove it.

… and we’re done. That is Search and Destroy, as the title puts it. Quite boring, and entirely less dramatic than an exorcism.

Conclusion

This tutorial is likely painfully overdetailed for many people, so I hope this finds those who are not as comfortable around computers. In all reality, running a virus scan is quite easy. However, with the articles in this series (first one, second one), I wanted to demonstrate the broader message that

“no one tool can detect, or protect you from, all cyber risks. A suite of tools must be implemented.”

Stay tuned for more because this segues nicely into the idea of defense in depth. A strategic concept practiced by the cyber security departments of the U.S. government.

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