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Old 07-23-2011, 09:12 PM
 
158 posts, read 1,064,363 times
Reputation: 136

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HI,

Today I was online browsing, and a window came up to scan for problems, and wouldn't go away. It looked like a windows icon, so I clicked on the fix errors.....of course at the end of the scan it wants me to purchase advanced module.

Well, now every thing on my computer is gone. I did a restart, a restore, and nothing. I can get online. But now all my favorites, bookmarks, etc are gone. My desktop is black, no programs, pictures, documents, all folders are empty.
When i go into my control panel all the programs are listed there.


Ha it is coming up again. it says PC Performance and Stability analysis report. It has a list of error reports. Some are listed as critical I also get several error messages at the bottom of my screen like--- one critical error---damaged hard drive clusters---windows can't find hard drive etc.

Am I having a hard drive failure?? Have I lost all my documents, photos, etc.
(I do have an external hard drive--but haven't back up pictures I scanned yesterday.)

Any help? What should I do?
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Old 07-23-2011, 09:48 PM
 
11,715 posts, read 36,332,431 times
Reputation: 7514
When you saw the popup, that was your warning. By falling for their come-on and clicking, you infected your computer. Most likely, your files are still there but have been marked as hidden. You'll need to somehow remove the offending program and unhide the files in your user profile.

Depending on the malware, you may be able to boot into safe mode with networking, download and install Malwarebytes (Malwarebytes : Free anti-malware, anti-virus and spyware removal download) and run a full scan.

If the malware is running even in safe mode, it'll be harder to remove and maybe not possible without experience. In that case, call a local professional (not Best Buy, Office Depot, etc. since they don't know squat and will just charge you $500 to reload Windows.)
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Old 07-23-2011, 10:01 PM
 
158 posts, read 1,064,363 times
Reputation: 136
Thanks. I am running my webroot spyware right now. I will see if that helps any....
Then I will try the safe mode thing.

How do I find hidden files??
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Old 07-23-2011, 10:06 PM
 
Location: Northeast NE
696 posts, read 1,518,305 times
Reputation: 283
Remove Windows Recovery (Uninstall Guide)

Has the unhide.exe at the bottom of the page. And good info on malware removal
even if you don't have that exact one.
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Old 07-23-2011, 11:18 PM
 
158 posts, read 1,064,363 times
Reputation: 136
THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I have recovered via Malewarbytes and unhide.ex. and all is back to normal.

I appreciate your help so much!!! Isn't it amazing that the internet can be such an amazing resource and such a pain at the same time!!

THANK YOU! for your help and invaluable assistance!!
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:10 PM
 
6 posts, read 11,036 times
Reputation: 15
One major reason people become infected is because they surf the Internet with an account that has Administrative privileges. Create another account with administrative privileges and then downgrade your current account to Standard/Limited. By doing this, you cut your risks by 90%. Malware installs ever so easily under Administrative privileges, but not so easily otherwise. Use the Administrative account to install new software.

Admin privileges allow drive-by downloading, things being isntalled into your browser in the form of Browser Helper Objects under IE, and even if you use another browser, they can install bad junk into your registry and you will be unaware. Malware is getting more and more sophisticated and the reasons behind it are money. If someone can install a rootkit with payloads like keystroke loggers, which can record usernames and passwords for places like online banking, email accounts, etc.

As an IT guy with over ten years of experience, I will offer this one piece of advice: if a machine has been infected even once, it can never be trusted again unless a complete reinstall is performed. Anti-malware software often misses stuff because some malware is polymorphic, meaning that it changes rapidly, can hide itself as something else, and generally remain undetected. Every IT company I ever worked for considered an install damaged and untrustworthy once infected. A complete reinstall was performed.

Also, if you had any flashdrives or external harddrive attached to the PC, you need to scan them as well. Have more than one backup. If you only have one copy of your data, you don't own your data, as the old saying goes.

You may think it's nuts to reinstall because it's a pain, but I can assure you that it's worth it. Your identity, online well-being, and general peace of mind are nothing to brush off. Identity theft and selling other people's credentials is a booming business and you don't want to become a victim.

Anti-virus software is also a big business and one that is not as needed as it first seems. Good safety habits like not surfing under Administrative privileges is the first starting point, and help diminish the need for expensive AV software. You should still use it, but don't rely on it alone to save you from harm. If you don't want to reinstall, or cannot, I highly recommend scanning with yet another tool to get a second and perhaps even a third opinion on the state of your system.
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Old 07-26-2011, 03:34 PM
 
Location: WV and Eastport, ME
11,707 posts, read 11,301,056 times
Reputation: 7686
Quote:
Originally Posted by texas1936 View Post
<snip> As an IT guy with over ten years of experience, I will offer this one piece of advice: if a machine has been infected even once, it can never be trusted again unless a complete reinstall is performed. ..... Every IT company I ever worked for considered an install damaged and untrustworthy once infected. A complete reinstall was performed. <snip>

Anti-virus software is also a big business and one that is not as needed as it first seems. ..... If you don't want to reinstall, or cannot, I highly recommend scanning with yet another tool to get a second and perhaps even a third opinion on the state of your system.
Most of us who answer questions here will disagree with you. It is rarely necessary to reimage a machine after malware removal.

With Microsoft Security Essentials free for Windows users, there iis no good reason to suggest that AV software is optional. Virus threats rarely depend on Admin rights to work.

We often recommend a second tool if someone isn't comfortable with Malwarebytes, but Malwarebytes has proven to take care of infections very reliably.
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Old 07-26-2011, 04:43 PM
 
Location: Tucson for awhile longer
8,874 posts, read 13,806,996 times
Reputation: 29048
That fake Windows icon has caused more mayhem to PCs than anything else I've ever seen. Almost all the casual Web surfers I know have fallen for it. And why wouldn't they? Every virus program I've ever employed at some time or another interrupts your computer use for something it just has to check, update, or install. And people are taught to rely on Windows and fear viruses. So if a supposed Windows logo pops up and tells a user that a virus has been detected, a huge percentage of them will just obey.
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Old 07-26-2011, 05:09 PM
 
11,715 posts, read 36,332,431 times
Reputation: 7514
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jukesgrrl View Post
That fake Windows icon has caused more mayhem to PCs than anything else I've ever seen. Almost all the casual Web surfers I know have fallen for it. And why wouldn't they? Every virus program I've ever employed at some time or another interrupts your computer use for something it just has to check, update, or install. And people are taught to rely on Windows and fear viruses. So if a supposed Windows logo pops up and tells a user that a virus has been detected, a huge percentage of them will just obey.
The problem is that its the user's own ignorance that sinks them. If they bothered to learn the name of their antivirus, they wouldn't be fooled when "Mega Virus Destroyer Pro 2011" popped up out of nowhere and told them they were infected.
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Old 07-26-2011, 05:31 PM
 
24,503 posts, read 35,958,754 times
Reputation: 12847
OP, restore from backups. Go about your business.
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