I’ve had to remove a lot of fake antivirus software lately. Microsoft has made my life incredibly easy now, thanks to the beta version of their new Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper (MSSSS) software. You download it (link below) on a CLEAN computer – shame on you if you create the boot media on the infected machine – and it walks you through the process of creating a bootable CD, DVD, USB thumb drive, or just creating an ISO file you can use anytime. The latest virus definitions are downloaded during the process, so you’re not instantly out of date, and are updated automatically if you run the install wizard again.
So, even if you’re not stuck with a virus, you probably know someone who is. Trade your few minutes of scanning for a night out, all from some free software from a company that lately is getting back its reputation for writing some darn good stuff.
Now, to be clear, this does not replace the need for full antivirus software being installed on a machine. Antivirus / antimalware software is good for keeping your system safe, no matter what OS you’re running. If you don’t want to pay for antivirus, which you generally shouldn’t have to, try the following:
- Microsoft’s free Security Essentials software
- Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and see if they give you free antivirus as part of your subscription (they don’t want infected computers on their network, so it’s cheaper to hand out free software than fight a network attack)
- Avast Antivirus or AVG Home Edition
If you’re running Windows XP or higher – and really, you should be on Windows 7 if you’re running Windows – turn on Data Execution Prevention for all programs and services. Right click Computer, Select Properties, then Advanced System Settings, then click Settings under Performance, then select the second option for All Programs and Services, as shown in the diagram below.
And, if you haven’t done so already, make sure your Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat, and Apple QuickTime (if installed) are fully up to date. It’s often vulnerabilities in these non-Microsoft products that get you infected, not vulnerabilities in Windows itself.