Is there such a thing as a computer that’s not infected? I’ve been diligently and faithfully watching my XP for years and yet I’ve been invaded by malware and cannot get rid of it. I’m using AVG 2014; updating it the first thing every day when I turn on the computer. Running MS Security Essentials, Malwarebytes anti-malware yet I have been infected by something called Friendschecker that pops up in Firefox and Internet Explorer. I searched high and low for some tool to delete this despicable program but no luck so far.
Googling is useless as the responses are full of “go to Control Panel, choose friendschecker and delete it.” The program just doesn’t show up. I use CCleaner and Advanced Uninstaller (both fabulous tools) but they don’t find this program. Noted that I use the free tools but what I noticed is that this virus seems to have migrated over to my netbook while it is connected to my home network. As a long time computer user, I’m at my wits’ end. Could you please suggest a virus remover program that is better than the ones I’ve listed? What about deleting Facebook completely? Could that help? I think I deleted something from Facebook, people I have no connection to at all, so I have no problem trying to delete Facebook if it can be done at all.
To be clear, deleting Facebook won’t help. Facebook is nothing more than a website you visit. It actually doesn’t install anything on your computer, so there’s nothing to delete. There are occasionally rogue apps that try to install stuff on your computer, but you usually get those by visiting sites other than Facebook where they try to get you to download something. That’s more traditional malware, as it does in fact download and install on your machine.
Now, I’m not even saying that’s how you got this.
To be honest, I don’t really know exactly how you got it. Somehow, somewhere, though, something was indeed downloaded and installed on your machine.
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PUP – Potentially Unwanted Program
Most times when we see this type of thing, it’s what we would call foistware, or a PUP – Potentially Unwanted Program – even though there’s no “potentially” about it.
Perhaps you downloaded and installed something legitimate: something you want, something you choose to download and install. But included with that download or as part of sneaky so-called download accelerators was additional completely unrelated software. Often that malware is at least annoying, and sometimes downright malicious. Sometimes you’re given a choice of whether or not to include the foistware in your install, but very often that choice is hidden and it defaults to yes.
That’s why I always say whenever you install software, choose the advanced options or the custom options to look for these kinds of things. Never, ever accept the default setup for anything you download and install on your computer.
Unfortunately, sometimes there’s also no choice at all; you just get it.
Since this is appearing in your browsers, it’s probably some kind of a toolbar. So step one is to open the browsers and check the add-ons and toolbars in each of them. Turn off and perhaps try to remove the offending ones.
Now, I know you said that suggesting Control Panel was naïve, but in reality, many of these types of things do in fact show up there. And to be clear, it’s not enough to just go into Control Panel. You need to go to the Add/Remove Programs or Programs and Features applet within Control Panel.
Basically, it’s the place where you would uninstall any software that’s been installed on your machine. Some malware will uninstall like any other installed software.
If all that fails, and it sounds like it has, then we have two other approaches to turn to.
The first is to run additional anti-malware tools, which is what you were actually asking about. I would recommend you grab Malwarebytes’ anti-malware. They have a free version available at malwarebytes.org. It’s very good at dealing with these kinds of things: PUPs and foistware are often high on its hit list. It doesn’t get everything – there’s no program that does – but it does get many, and it gets more and more all the time.
The second, is of course to do exactly as you have done: search for specific removal instructions on the internet. Don’t let the lack of a Control Panel entry stop you from reading the rest of the instructions, if somebody happens to suggest that. Often, there are in fact further specific removal instructions.
I will warn you to avoid sites that say just “buy this program” to remove that problem you’re having, and those that as part of their discussion on specific malware say, “run this program to check for malware”. Those are typically just sales pages and often very disappointing.
Look instead for sites that have step-by-step manual removal processes that don’t require you to buy anything.
Finally, and I hate to say it, but there are two ways that are guaranteed to remove any malware. One, is to restore your machine to backup that was taken prior to the malware’s arrival. It’s quick, it’s relatively painless and it’s pretty much guaranteed.
I’m going to assume that you have no backup for that since you’re asking this question. So you might want to consider starting a regular backup regime.
The second approach is even worse: backup, reformat and reinstall your machine from scratch. It’s time consuming and it’s very painful, so as you can imagine, it’s definitely the last resort.