My Computer Is Infected with Malware. Should I Just Throw It Out?

Some time ago, news broke that the U.S. government had plans to destroy up to $3 million worth of computers. In fact, they had already destroyed thousands of dollars of computers by the time the story came out.

Why were they doing it? Because of a malware infection.

I get the question, “Should I just throw it out?” due to malware more often than you think. It’s the knee-jerk reaction of someone who has a machine that is fairly infected and feels utterly hopeless about getting it cleared up again.

But I want to be very clear about something. There is never, ever a reason to destroy hardware because of malware.

Read moreMy Computer Is Infected with Malware. Should I Just Throw It Out?

Why am I getting unexpected adult audio on my church computer?

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I volunteer at my church and I have access to several PCs on a WPA2 protected network. My PC is running Windows 7 and Windows Media Player 12. We have a cable broadband connection and have approximately 25 PCs connected. At random times, and with no programs running in the background, I begin hearing someone talking through the speakers on my PC only. It’s not a radio station or similar media playing. For what is being said, and other sounds, it sounds like an audio feed from a porn site. If I let it play, it will run for about a minute or so and then it will stop. It may start again a few minutes later.

When this happens, I have immediately started Task Manager but I see nothing showing under the Programs tab. Next, I look at the Processes tab and don’t see anything unusual there as far as I can tell. I have asked this question on other sites and keep getting the same, “Well, you can’t tell me that you haven’t been to a porn site” response but I can assure you that I haven’t visited any site with this type of material. And no one else has access to this computer. I’ve checked Windows Media Player Sharing and do not have any type of media sharing turned on. I’m afraid that some here will begin thinking that I’m using the church’s network for “unsavory” uses.

I suppose that certainly could make Sunday services a little awkward. I don’t have a definite answer for you but I do have a list of things that I would check.

Read moreWhy am I getting unexpected adult audio on my church computer?

How do I fix Internet Explorer if it won’t open?

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I’m running Windows 7; I thought I had IE9. When I tried to use Internet Explorer, it won’t open. A little pop-up just says that “IE has a problem and is closing.” Then it’s difficult to close and keeps popping up. It might be connected to an add-on called Conduit.com as I see it in the search window behind the pop-up. I had to clean that off of Chrome and Firefox rejected it (thankfully). I went to Windows/IE site to install IE10 over what I have and it refused, saying I already had a more current version. How can I already have something more current than what the site has?

Based on what you’re seeing, I suspect that you’re already running Internet Explorer 10. Now, it’s going to be hard to say exactly what’s going to work to solve this problem, but I’ve got a couple of ideas.

Read moreHow do I fix Internet Explorer if it won’t open?

Can I Be Sure My Machine Is Malware Free?

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I’m running various virus and malware checkers, but my computer seems more sluggish all the time. A guest borrowed my PC and may have browsed some questionable sites. Any suggestions? I’m very nervous about logging into my bank online. A keystroke logger could grab my data.

As it turns out, there’s actually no way to prove that you don’t have malware on your machine. From a logical perspective, you can’t prove a negative.

You didn’t say what tools you’re running, so it’s hard for me to judge the answer to your question. If you’re concerned, let’s look at what you can do.

Read moreCan I Be Sure My Machine Is Malware Free?

Why Can’t I Delete these Temp Files?

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I found four files and twelve folders in my Temp folder that I can’t delete because they say “Access denied” with no programs open. Most are random numbered IDs, but two of the files have weird names: My Babylon TB and Bundle Suite IM setup. Each of these are around 1 Kilobyte. Both are noted as .exe applications. Two other files are basically just temp files. I’ve tried everything, but they persist. It may not be a big threat, but I hate to clutter the Temp folder on a permanent basis. How can I remove them? I use Windows XP.

Deleting files from your Temp folder is a good thing to do periodically. An “Access denied” error usually means that the file that you’re trying to delete is currently open and in use by some other program.

Sometimes, it happens, but based on the information that you’ve given me, I’m a little concerned that something else might be going on here.

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Why Doesn’t Malware Appear in the Add/Remove Programs List?

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I have a page that somehow embedded itself with a corrupt software program that I downloaded from an American university. I understand that this thing is a parasitic browser that provides a route to viral contamination. With the help of Norton, I eventually managed to remove it. Why is there no indication in the Control Panel for removal? Using “search” brought out the offending program, but it did not allow me to delete it. What advice can you give for tracking an unwanted and intrusive browser? The normal Norton 360 failed to protect my laptop, but thanks to one of their online agents, after an exhaustive analysis of the registry, it was removed with a more powerful scan made available by them.

What you’re dealing with is a form of malware. It may not be the malware per se; meaning that it’s not doing anything specifically bad itself, but it’s a vector for malware. It installs itself on your machine, so malware can download without your permission or interaction.

I’ll talk about the malware in a moment. First, let’s talk about the Add/Remove Programs list.

Read moreWhy Doesn’t Malware Appear in the Add/Remove Programs List?

How Do I Remove Ransomware?

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About a week ago, something shut my computer down and now demands $100 to unlock it. How do I unlock or delete this and use my computer? I use Windows Vista.

What you are experiencing is called ransomware.

Ransomware basically holds your computer, your data, or some part of your machine hostage until you pay them money or do whatever it is they ask of you to do.

Following their instructions, paying the ransom, actually may or may not unlock your computer. The creators of ransomware may just extort money out of you and then do nothing. You’ll still be left with an unusable computer.

There are a couple of different things that I strongly recommend you do.

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Malwarebytes Anti-malware Removes Malware that Others Don’t

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Was it an oversight that you left Malwarebytes out of your list software in What software do you use?

Nope.

That article was about software that I use frequently and have installed on most or all of my Windows-based PCs.

I do recommend Malwarebytes Anti-malware often – almost daily, in fact. But I don’t run it that often myself.

To understand why I might actually recommend something that I don’t use frequently, we need to understand Malwarebyte’s role and how it fits into my view of the war against malware.

Read moreMalwarebytes Anti-malware Removes Malware that Others Don’t

Why Is My Browser Being Redirected?

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When I type in some URLs, such as google.com or yahoo.com, instead of getting the real website, I appear to be redirected to some other site ending in .ru. But the site I typed in still stays displayed in the address line. Is this a virus or someone trying to take over my computer? How do I clean this up?

In a word: malware.

This is a fairly classic case of a browser hijacking.

There are many variations on the theme, but the idea is very simple: you try to go somewhere and you land … somewhere else.

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