In a previous post on the subject of malware removal, I suggested booting into the Windows Safe Mode to run anti-malware scans to remove those threats — conventional tech wisdom being that no malware can load when booted to Safe Mode.

Well, for severe malware infestations, Safe Mode is no longer safe.  The newer variants of some malware all load even when Safe Mode is used. There are a few different ways of accomplishing this, the most common being that the malware registers itself as a critical system process. This ensures that it is loaded regardless of what happens, and makes it much harder to shut down.

To make matters worse, these threats will often shut down all critical Windows Services, preventing you from going into the Task Manager, starting the msconfig or registry utility, and changing the properties of the Desktop wallpaper settings (more on this in a moment).

So how does the average computer user combat these attacks?  If you are experiencing an attack of this kind, where even Safe Mode loads the malware, then the resolution is beyond the reach of the average user.  At this point, the computer needs to be taken to a reputable computer service center or IT Consultant, but you must be firm and assertive as to what you want them to do to resolve the problem.

You need to confirm whether they have the necessary tools to boot the computer into a separate Windows environment.  There are third-party tools that allow you to boot into a Windows environment from a CD.  One such tool is Barts PE, a stripped-down version of Windows XP. It boots completely from a CD, and loads a simple graphical user interface. Coupled with plugins, McAfee, for example, you can scan your entire computer without the fear that your nifty little infection has somehow loaded.

Once your tech-support confirms that they have such a tool, insist that they use that tool to run an anti-malware scan on your computer.  That will allow them to employ additional corrective measures, once Safe Mode is safe again.  When you go to pick up your computer, don’t leave without first confirming that the following processes and features work:

  • Have the technician confirm that the Task Manager, the Windows Registry and msconfig utilities can load
  • Have the technician confirm that Internet browser searches using Google (or any other search engine), do not redirect to non-related sites or pages
  • Have the technician confirm that the Windows Display properties allow for the changing of Desktop wallpaper settings.  (Some malware will often display a fake threat warning on the Desktop wallpaper.  Any attempts to change the wallpaper back to default settings will prove futile, as the malware will block the settings to make that change possible.)
  • Have the technician confirm that the Windows Services panel (accessed by typing services.msc from the Run command window) does not show most or all services disabled

Once you are satisfied that the malware threat has been removed, you should run your own scan by following the steps from my previous post on malware removal.

Should the malware threat persist, reply back here with your comments.

My primary social media tools are Twitter, Linkedin, and WordPress (blogging). For my day to day business marketing, I use Twitter and WordPress exclusively.  And here’s how:

I maintain a technology blog on WordPress, which I update with interesting technology articles and how-to tips, on a regular basis. My dilemma is how do I get new traffic to that article, and how do I get that traffic to my website to learn more about my business services. That’s where Twitter comes in. After I write my article, I immediately post a blurb about it on Twitter, along with a link to the blog article. My Twitter followers (or anybody else in the world searching for the relevant subject tags in my article) can then follow the Twitter link to my blog, and then from my blog they may be interested to review my profile. At that point, they can click on the link to my business website, if they are interested in further information about my services.

I also utilize several Twitter tools, to streamline and automate my Twitter postings. While they are numerous computer news and tips out there, I tend to post those that are not only timely, but also critical for my readers to know about — and some of those bear regular repeating. There’s a tool called Objective Marketer, that allows me to automate and schedule my repeat tweets in advance, hourly, daily, or monthly. As a result, I have a constant and automated presence on Twitter, without actually being on my computer when those tweets go out.

There are other great Twitter tools out there that I highly recommend for your review. Review them HERE, and make sure to view the very informative presentation by Guy Kawasaki on social media, accessed HERE. There is a $20.00 charge to view the full presentation, but it is definitely worth the cost. The tips and examples that Guy gives are excellent. And his demonstration of the Objective Marketer Twitter tool is worth the price of admission, alone!

  • Twirl: Twhirl is a social software desktop client, based on the Adobe AIR platform
  • TweetDeck: TweetDeck is a personal browser for staying in touch with what’s happening now, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook and more.
  • Twello: Twellow is a directory of public Twitter accounts, with hundreds of categories and search features to help you find people who matter to you.
  • Adjix: Adjix is a way for people to create short links to Web sites, tweet them, track clicks, and earn revenue.
  • CoTweet: CoTweet is a platform that helps companies reach and engage customers using Twitter.
  • TwitHawk: TwitHawk is a real time targeted marketing engine that will find people talking on twitter now by your chosen topic and location, allowing you to really hit your target mid conversation with ease.
  • Objective Marketer: Offers Marketing & Analytics, Integrated Campaign Management, Multi-Channel Execution, and Actionable Insights

Adjix is a way for people to create short links to Web sites, tweet them, track clicks, and earn revenue.

Many folks just  joining the ranks of the unemployed may start finding that they tend to spend a lot more time on their home computers than they did at their former jobs.  They soon start to rely more and more on that computer for resume and cover-letter preparation, job application submissions, and job searches on the Internet.  As a result, they can ill-afford to have that life-line fail or under-perform, due to malware or data corruption.

I’ve prepared a PRESENTATION which addresses this important subject with helpful tips and FAQs on how users cam make their home computing experience more organized, productive, and safer, while they go through the job search process.  Users may not get to implement all the suggestions, but at least it may get them thinking in the right direction.

Most Internet threats these days fall under the categories of malware, which include those nasty Trojan and backdoor exploits.  They are sophisticated enough to detect when attempts are made to remove them.  They are often designed to recognize — and make inoperable —  most of the more popular antivirus and antispyware tools used against them.

What is the average computer user to do in such cases?  Often, the computer is left in a reboot cycle after infection, or incessant pop-ups cripple it’s use, or the system just does not boot up at all.  And all this in spite of the fact that the system may already have anti-malware protection.

Follow these steps and, in all but the most severe cases, your system will be up and running happily again:

  1. First, find a working computer with an Internet connection and download the free version of MalwareBytes Anti-Malware software from www.malwarebytes.org unto a USB thumb drive or to CD.  Be sure to rename the file to something short but innocuous — something like bugkiller.exe.
  2. Next, restart the infected computer in Safe Mode.  At the Safe Mode Desktop, place the media with the MalwareBytes file in the computer and install the software.
  3. Once MalwareBytes is installed, restart the computer in Safe Mode with Networking
  4. At the Safe Mode with Networking Desktop, launch the MalwareBytes program and click the Update tab to update the current malware database information from the Internet.
  5. Once the update completes, click the Scanner tab and select the Perform Quick Scan option, and then click the Scan button.
  6. MalwareBytes will find the malware threats and allow you to remove them.
  7. Some threats reside in memory and may require a computer restart once the manual removal is done
  8. Restart the computer in normal Windows mode, and return to happy computing

A payware version of MalwareBytes is available.  It’s claim to fame is that it runs on the computer in real-time and in the background, thereby preventing most threats as they occur.  However, if you manually run (and update) the free version on a regular basis, even though your computer may inevitably harbor malware, MalwareBytes will usually bail you out of most serious situations.

UPDATE:

Some of the newer malware strains will load into Safe Mode, thereby making the steps above ineffective.  If this is your particular situation, read on for additional information on how to deal with those more severe threats.

Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook continue to explode, and your customers and prospects are on them.  Want to join in?

Attend Online Impact 2010 and experience new presentations, more experts, an expanded number of workshops, and a very special networking event.

Learn the tips and tactics of advanced LinkedIn, Facebook Fan Pages for business, Search Engine Optimization of your website, your company, even you – and much more!

The January 14th seminar has ended, but you can review some of the event highlights by following the minute-by-minute blog feed HERE.

Have you been in a weak-signal area, and wished you could manually switch your phone to roaming mode?  Most (if not all) newer smartphones limit your options to Auto and main-Provider.  Older mobile phones had the additional roaming option which allowed you to manually roam to another carrier with a stronger signal in the area.

Now you would think that Auto (the default for most smartphones) would (automatically) switch your phone if a weak main-provider signal is detected.  But that’s not how the technology works.  If your smartphone detects a very weak main-provider signal, it will hang on to that signal until it doesn’t detect it anymore.  That means is frequent dropped calls, for as long as the weak signal is detected.

Smartphone users should check with their providers for apps that allow manual roaming switching.  I recently downloaded and having been testing a Homebrew app for the Palm Pre called RoamOnly Toggle.  I can’t say enough about this app!  And it’s free.  It allows for instant roaming with the tap of a finger.  Another tap toggles the phone right back to Auto.

I highly recommend this app.  No smartphone user should be without a productivity tool such as this.