Virus Removal

We say we specialize in virus and malware removal. What history do we have in this field? What do we do differently from any other computer repair company? What is malware?

In this article, I will attempt to answer these, and many other questions you may have. I will also give you some advice on tools you can run yourself that may prevent the need to call a professional. Now, why would I give away the keys to the kingdom? While it is true that virus removal is where I earn the majority of my income, I also believe in treating the customer right. I know that by taking care of my customers, they’ll be more willing to refer me. The tools that I mention here are fine for small, benign, infections. The trouble is, once you get one, it will open the floodgates and you’ll be inundated within days. You see, a computer virus is almost like a life form. It replicates and spreads. It tries to protect itself. One of the first things it will do is attempt to disable anything that may kill it. It will attack your antivirus, and attempt to disable it. Many will also attack the Windows Updates. Presumably, because they take advantage of recently discovered vulnerabilities to do their work. Once Microsoft patches these, they will effectively neuter the virus. The Windows Firewall is another early protection system that may hamper the virus’ ability to work. Being Windows, the firewall has it’s share of vulnerabilities and can be taken down relatively easily. Your router does act as a hardware firewall, but it primarily only protects against incoming traffic. Once your PC is infected, the virus will phone home. Since the traffic originated from your PC, the router will route any replies right back to your PC. The virus can hide itself, and thwart your antivirus scanning efforts. It will basically tell your antivirus there is nothing to see here, move along. To which the antivirus software will dutifully do so.

Booting your PC into Safe Mode can help to prevent some of a virus’ protection mechanisms from running, so your antivirus has a better chance of identifying and removing the virus. Better yet, most antivirus companies have a rescue CD available for download. Creating the rescue CD, and booting from it, typically boots your PC into Linux, where the virus cannot run. HitmanPro is another great option to remove viruses. HitmanPro is a second opinion scanner that uses multiple antivirus engines to scan your files. While your regular antivirus (we recommend Bitdefender), and a second opinion scanner like Hitman are great at detecting and removing viruses, they will not remove all malware. What is Malware? It’s an all-encompassing term including viruses, adware, spyware, potentially unwanted programs, etc. Malwarebytes is one of the best tools currently on the market to detect and remove other types of malware. It’s pretty good with virus removal too. Unfortunately, there is no single tool that detects and removes all malware. Most tools do not completely remove all registry entries either. One registry entry remaining could download and re-install the malware!

This is where an experienced professional like Irwin Electronics comes in. We use about 10 different tools to remediate your system. Half of them are automated, like the tools mentioned above that you could run yourself. The others simply list everything installed and running on the system. We’ve been doing this for many years. We know what to look for, what’s okay, questionable (requires more research), and definitely bad. Cleaning an infected system takes a MINIMUM of two hours. We frequently find damage to Windows caused by a virus attempting to protect itself. One of the latest tricks is creating a hidden Proxy. PC’s installed in an enterprise environment are on the local enterprise network and must go through a proxy server to access the Internet. This is not necessary on a home PC as you have direct Internet access. The malware writers create a hidden proxy to direct all your traffic through their server. This is an attempt to steal your identity. Once we run the automated tools, we find we no longer have Internet access, and the tools remove the virus and leave the network stack broken. I wrote a script that completely restores the network stack in just a few seconds. We have the Microsoft Fix-It tools to repair damage to Windows Updates and the Windows firewall. While these work 80% of the time, some systems are still damages after the repair. We have a few scripts we can run that will repair about 90% of the remaining damaged systems. Others require us to manually rebuild registry entries, create accounts, and reset permissions. This is rare, but it does happen. Occasionally we find systems that are so heavily damaged, we have no choice but to re-install Windows. We have spent sixteen or more hours actively recovering systems from virus damage! We understand you have software installed that you rely on for your day to day activities, and may not have the installers to re-install all your software. We will do our best to recover everything and return your computer exactly as it was prior to the infection.

Beware of a company that charges forty dollars and declares your system clean. That indicates they ran one or two tools that you could run yourself, and they did NOT remove all traces. Chances are, something left behind will cause the infection to re-install. Some companies offer a one year, or lifetime guarantee… for a monthly fee. You will be calling them frequently for ongoing maintenance. This may be a good deal if the company is reputable AND your time is worthless.

Irwin Electronics offers a thirty-day guarantee in writing, but we do not hold that hard and fast. If you call us on day 31, we’re not going to say sorry your warranty has expired. We do not charge for diagnostics. We will happily run our diagnostic software and see exactly what’s going on. If we missed something, we will make it right. If this is something new, we will work with you to remediate the problem. It is highly unlikely you would be charged full price again within a short period of time. We take these on a case by case basis, and are always willing to work with you on a solution we both agree is fair.

I am the owner of the company. I take pride and ownership in my work. I firmly believe I do more for every dollar than anyone else in this business. I rely on your referrals to stay in business and put food on my table. I will NEVER charge you for something you don’t need. I am a Christan man, this is a Christian company. We must answer to a higher power. Everything we do is for HIS glory. We stand behind our work and fully honor our guarantees. If you are ever not happy for any reason, please call us and let us make it right. We have never received anything less than a full five-star review on any site. Our customers are always highly satisfied with our work and our prices. We are not the cheapest, but we are also not the most expensive. We try to remain competitive. Although our years of experience, certifications, reviews, and best service awards say we could, and should be the most expensive. We do not believe in overcharging for anything. That’s not a good way to earn your business and referrals. I also have a policy that says if we can’t fix it, you don’t pay! Others in this business say I am crazy. They say I give too much away, work too hard, and don’t charge enough. That’s fine with me. I will continue to treat my customers right and earn their business, while you gouge them for a one time service. Admittedly, I am NOT a good businessman. But I and any other techs I hire are undoubtedly the best in the business! That’s what Irwin Electronics does differently from any other IT company we know of! We have the tools, the knowledge, the experience, and the certifications to do the job right, and we won’t settle for anything less! We want to be your IT company for life. We’re counting on it.

I hope you found this informative, and helpful. Please feel free to share and comment.