Black Eyes - When Your Windows is Possessed #spyware #malware #viruses

Source: Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, possessed by some dark force

One of the neat features of Linux machines, Macs, and iOS devices is the lack of spyware/malware. Sure, there are times when those evil critters scurry under the noses of IT admins, but for the most part, you don't end up with the black screen that signals your computer has been possessed. 

Today, however, a colleague brought over his Windows computer and, wouldn't you know it, I had a flashback to early morning television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer re-run. Wait, wait, I'm not saying I'm Buffy, but...wiping out spyware can be pretty fun.

For those who may need the advice, virtually available on every Internet street corner, here's a quick revisit:

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"Please help...I have a computer that is infected. The browser (Internet Explorer) keeps going to as the home page," wrote one desperate techonology user. "I'm sure there is a free spyware removal tool I can use, but after searching I found that some of the ones that come up are actually rogue spyware programs themselves - like Antispyware 2012." Fortunately, the tools available for installation on personal devices have gotten better.

Here is a list of my favorite tools that I share at least once a month with colleagues wondering, "What is out there for free that I can share with students, parents, and staff to load on their personal computers?" 

If you want the software right away, jump to Step 2 and get AVG AntiVirus, Spybot Search and Destroy, and MalwareBytes.


STEP 1 - Turn Off System Restore
First, right-click on your "MY COMPUTER" on your desktop (or look under START PROGRAMS).
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Navigate to this tab and make the change as shown below:

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Step 2 - Install AntiVirus and Anti-Malware Tools

Second, I would recommend you boot up off a CD-ROM or bootable Flash Drive, and, third, run these programs off your USB Flash Drive (check the section further below for screenshots of what that looks like).
  1. AntiSpyware Tools:
  2. AntiVirus Tools:While there are many antivirus tools, there is only one that is worth installing on thousands of computers.
    • AVG AntiVirus Free - This free version is for personal home use, but you can also install the free version for a 30-day trial. Get it online at
    • Avast AntiVirus - avast! antivirus Home Edition is available free of charge for non-commercial home use ONLY. Get it online at

The damage caused left by viruses and spyware to your Windows Registry can be catastrophic. To fix those problems, you need to take advantage of two tools that will help you 1) Uninstall undesirable programs completely and 2) Clean up your Windows registry.
  1. Revo Uninstaller - Some times, you need a program that will completely uninstall a program, including cleaning up your Windows registry. This program accomplishes that and ensures complete removal of a program. Get the portable version online at
  2. CCleaner - This invaluable tool actually cleans up your computer's registry, and run periodically, keeps your computer running in tip-top shape. Get the portable version online at

And, since in the worst case scenario, it's not a bad idea to make regular backups of your work. Before restoring your work to your freshly cleaned computer, make sure to clean it!

As a final preventative step, install these programs to prevent a "re-infestation:"

and, if you're really worried about reinfestation, install this last one:
  • Hitman Pro - This tool combines Ad-Aware SE, SpyBot Search & Destroy, Spy Sweeper, Spyware Doctor, CWShredder, Spyware Blaster, NOD32, Sysclean package to get the job done. Most of the included programs are freeware. Get it online at

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Live Technician said…
Very informative blog about how to remove spyware from spyware removal tool
Unknown said…
I think Ask toolbar also can be spy program. It take over our browser without over permission. Changed home page into it's own. I think it also can damage the computer. So to handle with this problem you should read next manual Good Luck.

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