Header Ads

15 New Ways to Spot & Kill Malware

Sometimes your anti-virus software may need extra help to detect and remove nasty infections. Let's present 15 free security tools that target specific threats.


The stand-alone tools in this feature have been chosen because they shouldn't conflict with your existing anti-virus software, or each other. However, this might not be the case with all security suites on all systems. We tested each of the tools on a Windows 7 PC running Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6.0. They are not designed to replace a full anti-virus program.

Get rid of malware you didn't know you had

Even if you've scanned your PC and your anti-virus program hasn't found any threats, you might still have a nagging feeling that your system is infected. For example, web pages may not be loading properly, pop-ups may be appearing more regularly or you may be experiencing sluggish performance.

McAfee's GetSusp removal tool is for people who suspect their computer is infected, but don't know how to find or remove the offending files. It uses McAfee's Global Threat Intelligence database to target malicious files disguised as legitimate application files. Once the scan finishes, a log of suspicious files opens in your browser window and you can choose which ones to delete.

Remove malicious root kits 

Rootkits hide malicious software on your computer and make both the malware and themselves invisible to most security tools. This makes them notoriously difficult to detect and remove, but McAfee's Rootkit Remover will do the job for you. It's specifically designed to find and get rid of complex rootkits and associated malware, particularly the ZeroAccess and TDSS family of rootkits. McAfee plans to add coverage for more root kit ' families' in future versions of the tool.

Clear your system of scareware

Norton's Power Eraser tool is designed to remove 'scamware' or 'scareware' - stubborn malware hidden deep within your system that tries to get you to download fake security software. Many anti-virus programs don't detect these threats and Symantec warns that, because Power Eraser's scan is so thorough, it might remove some legitimate programs as well as the scareware. If this happens, the tool has an option to undo any changes made to your system. You'll need to restart your PC for the rootkit scan and any repairs to take place.

Use Stinger to stop fake alerts

Fake alerts are pop-ups that look like official Microsoft error and warning messages. They trick you into thinking there's something wrong with your PC and the only way to fix it is to click an infected link in the pop-up. McAfee's free Stinger tool targets these fake-alert threats, and its database is updated several times a week to combat new variants. Stinger scans your whole computer, or you can set it to only scan particular directories.

Remove fake anti-virus software

Hackers exploit popular search terms using what's called SEO poisoning, to trick you into clicking infected links. These links go to a page that tells you your computer is infected and encourages you to download a fake anti-virus program, which is actually malware. If you've fallen victim to this clever scam, you can remove the fake software using Sophos' Virus Removal Tool. This specializes in fake anti-virus attacks, but it can also be used to remove rootkits and spyware.

Remove the Flashfake Mac Trojan

Macs are being increasingly targeted by malware, yet there aren't many security tools that target Mac-only viruses. One of the most notorious examples this year is the Flashfake Trojan, also known as Flashback. The Flashfake Trojan is installed if you visit an infected site - you don't even need to click any links or download anything. It can infect your computer because of vulnerability in the Java software. The problem has now been patched, but your Mac may have been infected during the time it took Apple to issue a security update. McAfee provides a free tool called Mac Stinger, which is the OS X version of the Windows program. This can detect and remove the Flashfake Mac Trojan, as well as other OS X malware variants of it. Kaspersky has a similar tool, designed specifically to remove Flashfake.

Protect yourself from USB malware 

You might be confident, that none of your USB devices contain malware, but if you're transferring files from someone else's memory stick, or have borrowed another person's flash drive, your security can't be guaranteed. Protect yourself from picking up any viruses by using Bitdefender's USB lmmunizer tool.

This lets you manually 'immunise' up to four devices at once, which means the tool scans the drives for malicious files and blocks any from getting access to your computer. Alternatively, you can set the program to automatically immunise anything plugged into a USB port on your PC. When a drive has been immunised and is safe to use, its icon turns from red to green.

Remove the Conficker worm 

The Conficker worm, also known as Downadup, targets unpatched computers and can exploit weak passwords on sites and PC applications. It installs itself in your Registry, disguised as genuine keys. Fortunately, you can use Sophos' Conficker Removal tool to scan you r Registry for the worm. The program then isolates and removes Conficker, making sure not to delete any important Registry elements. It also provides instructions on how to apply necessary patches, in particular the MS08-67 patch. For more information on Conficker, check this link.

Protect yourself from Facebook malware 

If you use Face book, you'll know how easy it is for malicious links to spread through your Friends list. Common examples include links to "shocking" videos, pages that promise to show you who have viewed your profile and "sexy" images of celebrities. The latest attacks include fake offers from brands, and these links can be hidden in adverts around the site, too. The aim is usually to give hackers access to your account so they can post spam on you r behalf.

Bitdefender's Safego Facebook app protects you from these infected links, and will also close any connections hackers have to your account. It gives you a rating telling you how at risk you are from identity fraud, based on your privacy settings and what information you're sharing. Another useful Facebook security app is Norton's Safe Web. This scans every link posted in your feed and tells you if any links and adverts are infected. You can scan manually, or set up Auto-Scan, as well as share warnings with others.

Target specific viruses 

If you know exactly which viruses have infected your computer, you can use tools that target individual malware. They work more efficiently than your anti-virus software because they're specially tailored to find and remove everything connected to a certain piece of malware, particularly newer threats. ESET, Bitdefender, Kaspersky and AVG let you browse lists of stand-alone removal tools for specific malware, and AVG lets you search by virus or tool name.