My parents have asked me to look at their neighbours PC – it has started ‘acting funny’ and “they think it might have a virus”, I was told.
“Uh oh”, I thought. Here we go again. If you are the local IT guru you know this feeling well. And, is it just me or is it becoming more frequent?
I have developed a routine for dealing with these PC’s now – inevitably the “it may have a virus” turns out to be 10’s if not 100’s of viruses, trojans, worms and spyware all combining together to grind the PC to a halt. So, what I do, is to re-install the OS – more often recently it is XP, turn off System Restore, install XP SP2, Microsoft Anti Spyware, Spybot, Adaware, and AVG.
The reason for disabling System Restore is that many of the more recent Viruses, etc. hide in the System Restore volume so that they are restored after a scan is run and are impossible to delete while System Restore is running.
Once all the above software is installed and has scanned and cleaned the PC, then, and only then, connect the PC to the Internet and do a Windows Update updating the PC with all available updates. Finally, connect to and install Trend Micro’s Housecall online Anti Virus scanner . Run this scan on the PC, disconnect from the Internet and scan once more with all the previous tools ensuring all scans come up clean again. If they don’t keep repeating until they do or consider formatting the PC.
Be sure to set the Windows Updates to update automatically through the Security Center (sic).
Install Firefox and Thunderbird and set them to be the default browser and default mail client respectively. removing desktop shortcuts for Internet Explorer.
Finally, on returning the PC, you need to inform the owner of all the changes that have been made to the PC and be sure to let him/her know that these measures will only keep the PC secure for 6-9 months maximum.
It is at this point that you need to tell them that if they want to stay uninfected going forward, they’d be far better off getting a Mac!