Oh the joy of it… out of the blue your PC presents you with a scary screen, locks you out of everything and renders your machine (and productivity) useless – yes indeed, the virus! It happens to everyone at some time, even with protection, or apparent protection. That’s what happened to me a couple of days ago although luckily I have a laptop, iPad, and smartphone to continue working and staying in touch with the rest of the world. Perhaps most important though, the other devices enabled me to quickly conduct research in order to rectify the situation. And so, a few tips that I thought I’d share just in case this happens to your or someone you know and you have trouble getting back up and running (disclaimer, I’m no IT guy and this may not resolve every issue but it may likely help you somewhat).
First thing, shut down the infected machine and continue on with your work without panicking with a secondary machine… chill out a bit, the World isn’t ending! Do a web search on a key message that you received from the message presented by the culprit… I’m sure you’ll immediately find loads of information about which virus has infected your machine… in my case it seems the culprit is quite rampant recently and as a result a ton of material is online. But this is where it gets a little funky… you’ll quickly notice that there’s a ton of seemingly legitimate help resources available, all providing essentially the same material about the issue and pretty much the same solutions, often involving you downloading a special tool or application (aka cleaning tool). In my case I found all of these resources to be useless. They provide detailed instructions which I easily followed, none of the products ever resulting in a fix – essentially, a huge waste of time!
What does work is obtaining a tool, utility, or program from a bonafide solution provider, in my case it was Kapersky. Typically, in order to repair the machine you’ll need to be familiar with messing around with your PC in Safe mode and running it off a boot disk or bootable flash drive. For me it was as simple as the following:
- I downloaded a utility from Kapersky called Kapersky Rescue Disk 10. I simply downloaded the required program file using a secondary machine (my netbook)
- Copied the required file to a flash drive
- Restarted infected PC (it runs Win Vista – ya I know, a little old school ;0)) and fired up in Safe mode with command line option
- Inserted flash drive and ran the executable file and created a boot disk on a CD (this was pretty simple and the instructions were clear)
- Restarted infected PC – striking F10 key repeatedly enabled me to set boot up option to boot machine from CD ROM
- PC booted up from the CD and I followed the instructions in order to run a complete update of the program and a scan – note, the scan took many hours to complete (I ran it overnight)
- Restarted PC normally and was greeted with a familiar, and clean environment.
- I then downloaded and ran the free Malwarebytes tool to perform a secondary cleaning (several suspects were removed) and finally, I ran CCleaner... problem solved!
This may not always be a solution for you but it may help you out down the road sometime… good luck and remember, keep your system protection tools up to date, run them frequently, practice safe computing, and run periodic backups! Remember, there’s a ton of crap on the web, including much of the seemingly useful help resources. Stay calm, don’t rush out and pay the first IT tech or propeller-head a ton of hard earned $$ to restore your machine, keep writable CDs and flash drives on hand, and take your time.