Rethinking Malware Removal
A malware removal experience on Friday and Saturday last week made me wonder if computer malware problems should have the following three options:
- Throw out the Windows computer and buy a Mac.
- Work on malware removal for a maximum of two hours.
- Reformat the hard drive and reinstall.
The laptop owner had employed a number of anti-malware prevention measures prior to getting the 'infection' on his computer:
- Auto-updating of Windows/MS Office/anti-malware
- Safe computing practices
- Deleted all the garbage files (temp, temp internet, etc)
- Manually updated anti-malware programs to make sure they were up to date
- Scanned with antivirus and anti-spyware programs
- Gnashed his teeth
What finally located the problem child was scanning with an anti-malware program not previously used by us. The program wouldn't remove it -- it just identified what it was and where part of it was hiding. Once we knew that, though, its death knell had been rung! Other tools in the myDigitechnician arsenal were used to sneak up on the miscreant and his compadres from behind and yank them out of the computer while they were helpless. Additionally, we left behind warning signs telling them never to come back.
All told, it took about eight man-hours and twenty-two anti-malware tools to restore his laptop to "clean and green."
Maybe a better solution is to use a Mac.
For masochists and those whose vocations or avocations dictate they use a Windows computer, the solution appears to be figuring out how to re-format the hard drive and re-install all programs and data in less than two hours. This is the solution that Mr. Ballmer/Gates needs to work on. Not how to make the computer secure, but 1) how to detect a problem, and 2) how to quickly delete everything and re-install programs and data painlessly.
It has been clearly demonstrated that secure computing for the average Windows (dominant OS) computer user is NOT achievable. And that's NOT going to change with Vista or any other preventive security measures in the next few years.