Removing Spyware and Malware

Follow the instructions below to clean up your computer and keep it secure.

Safe Mode

The best way to scan a computer for viruses is to boot the computer in safe mode. Safe mode only loads the drivers needed to operate windows, so any potential viruses will not load in this mode. 

To boot in Safe Mode in Windows 10:

  • When you first start your computer and you get to the sign-in screen, hold down the Shift key while you select Power -> Restart
    • After your PC restarts to the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart
    • After your PC restarts, you'll see a list of options. Select 4 or F4 to start your PC in Safe Mode. Or if you'll need to use the Internet, select 5 or F5 for Safe Mode with Networking.
    • You can also boot from recovery media stored on a USB drive. See below for instructions on creating a recovery drive.

To boot in Safe Mode in Windows 8:

  • When you first start your computer, hold down the Shift key to boot into the Recovery Environment
    • Select Troubleshoot -> Advanced Options -> Windows Startup Settings
    • You can also boot from recovery media stored on a USB drive. See below for instructions on creating a recovery drive.

To boot in Safe Mode in Windows 7: 

  • When you first start your computer, click repeatedly the F8 key
  • A screen will appear with multiple options, use the arrow keys to navigate to the option “Safe Mode with Networking” 
    • It may ask to select the operating system. Use the Arrow keys and enter to select it.
    • It may also ask for the partition, it is the largest partition. Select it.
To boot in Safe Mode for Mac:
  • When you first start your computer, hold down the Shift key 
    • Safe mode is only necessary if initial scans fail, in most cases Safe Mode is not required to clean a Mac


System Restore and Time Machine

Windows uses a restore utility that automatically backs up selected system files.

  1. Select the key on the keyboard.
  2. Type Restore in the search box.
  3. Select System Restore.
  4. From the list you can select restore points to a state before you were experiencing the problem.

Mac has Time Machine that allows you to back up your entire Mac, including system files, apps, music, photos, emails and documents. Used with an external storage device, if anything happens to your computer, all of your files will be recoverable from the external drive. It also keeps multiple versions of your files.

  1. Connect an external hard disk to your Mac and turn it on.
  2. You'll be asked if you want to use the disk to back up your Mac. Click Use as Backup Disk.
  3. Follow the instructions in Time Machine preferences.
  4. To open Time Machine Preferences, go to the Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Time Machine.


Run OS Updates

The best way to keep your computer secure is to run the latest software. 

More information about Windows Update can be found online: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-update.

To make sure you are informed about Mac updates, note the notifications and number of available updates displayed in the icon of the App Store.app in the Dock. When new updates are available, macOS sends you a notification. Just accept the updates and they'll download automatically. Whenever new software updates are available, install them promptly.


Scan with Malwarebytes: Anti-Malware (MWB)

Download malwarebytes at http://www.malwarebytes.org/. Follow the instructions on Malwarebytes website to install the software.

Run Malwarebytes

  1. Malwarebytes should automatically update the database when launched.
  2. Go to the Scan tab at the top and select Threat Scan.
  3.  Once the scan has finished, you can review the list of found items and select them for Quarantine.
  4. Once the files have been quarantined, you may need to restart the computer. Restart in Safe Mode.
  5. If there were no infected files detected on the initial scan, then you are done.
  6. If you removed files, then select Threat Scan again to make sure they are all gone.

**It is advisable to run the Malwarebytes weekly to help keep viruses from infecting your computer**

 

Scan with CCleaner

CCleaner is an application that is helpful in freeing up space on your hard drive by finding and removing the large amount of temporary files that accumulate through normal computer use. The amount of space taken up by these files can be significant, from several hundred MB to several GB depending on the size of your hard drive. While this can be done manually, CCleaner is a much faster and easier solution for most people.

Download CCleaner at http://www.ccleaner.com and follow the installation instructions below:

  • Select your preferred language and click Next.
  • Everything in the next menu will be checked by default and can be left that way, then click Install.
  • Once the program installs, run it and click Analyze to scan for temporary files.
  • After reviewing the files it plans to remove, click Run Cleaner to permanently delete those files.

NOTE for Windows users: CCleaner also contains a registry cleaner and several other utilities. While better than many other registry cleaners that are offered on the Internet as paid software or shareware, these programs tend to create more problems than they solve. Making changes to the registry of a working operating system can change user settings as well as cause various functions to stop working properly. When problems occur that involve the registry, often it makes more sense to back up your data and then perform a clean install of the operating system. Information Services recommends avoiding registry cleaners in general, particularly any that are advertised through pop-ups, ads or warnings.

 

Scan with Security Essentials ​(for OS's older than Win10)

Windows 10 comes with virus software built-in, however, for earlier versions of Windows, you can download Security Essentials from Microsoft for free (be sure to remove any installed virus scanning software first): https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=5201 
Follow the instructions on Microsoft’s website to download and scan your computer.


More Tips and Information

Visit the site http://staysafeonline.org for additional information on keeping yourself and your devices safe.

To create a recovery drive for Windows 10:

  1. Type “Recovery” in search box and press Enter.
  2. Select the option to create a recovery disc and follow the prompts to create a recovery disc.

To create a recovery drive for Windows 8.1:

  1. Select the key to open the Search menu.
  2. Type recovery drive in the search box, and then select Create a recovery drive. You may be asked for an administrator password for the computer or to confirm your choice.
  3. After the recovery drive tool opens, confirm that the Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive option is checked. Select Next.
  4. Insert a USB flash drive into your computer that is at least as large as the size indicated on the screen.
  5. Select the USB drive that you would like to use for your recovery drive. Select Next.
  6. Select Create.

This is now your Windows 8.1 recovery drive, and you'll need it if you ever need to refresh or reset your computer. Keep the USB drive in a safe place and don't use it to store other files or data.​​​​​