How to Remove Sweetim malware

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computer_virusSweetim is a nasty piece of download malware that is showing up all over my family’s PC’s.  Hijacks your search by burying itself as an extension in IE and Google (don’t know about Safari and Firefox yet.)  Found a super site on the Net with a full solution that may fix a bunch of other viruses/malware on your computer.  Check this site out and follow the directions completely to get rid of Sweetim malware.  If you don’t follow all the steps it will reappear thanks to some registry entries.

New Year’s Good Housekeeping

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It’s time to tune up your computer.

Once again Woody Leonard of Windows Secrets Newsletter, has published an excellent article with detail on how to make this happen.  Slip to the top of your New Year’s to-do list and enjoy safe and much more secure computing in the coming year.

Let your PC start the new year right!

Fred Langa

By Fred Langa on January 10, 2013 in Top Story

A little time spent now on preventive maintenance can save hours of PC troubleshooting later — and provide better computing all year long.

Use the following steps to give your PC an annual checkup — and ensure it starts 2013 as healthy as possible.

Toolkit – Other free utilities

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 C-Cleaner
One of the best utilities that we have recommended for years.  It comes with a disk cleaner and a registry scanner and can be used to remove unwanted programs from starting up.

The 46 Best Free Utilities
Ian “Gizmo” Richards maintains a running list of the 46 best free utilities on his “Tech Support Alert” Web site. Gizmo keeps the list up to date by adding and removing utilities and updating each of the 46 descriptions. I have referenced this page frequently, and have now added it to our Tool Kit.

Nir Sofers list of free utilities and Tools  – Exellent web site that provides list of free utilities and tools -  Tech tools  – Recover passwords, Wireless router keys, networking utilities, command line utils, and much more.

Microsoft Windows Service Packs -  Download a Windows Service Pack as a single file.  If you are having difficulty locate older Windows Service packs you might find them at this Microsoft site.

Toolkit – Bootable CD tools (LiveCD)

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Hiren’s BootCD is a free bootable CD containing various diagnostic programs for fixing various Windows computer problems.  It is a Linux based operating system and provides dozens of utilities that can be best described as performing first aid for your computer. Anti-virus and Malware scanners, disk-check utilities, Password removal, undelete……Download the 500mb zip file, extract or copy the files into a new folder,  and run the BurnCD and let the program create the Hirens bootCD.  Hiren’s Bootable USB tutorial - A Video tutorial on how to create a Hirens CD

Microsoft Bootable Windows Defender – Microsoft Windows defender on a bootable USB stick or CD.  Once created you can boot your computer from the USB flash drive or CD and allow Windows Defender to scan and remove Viruses and Malware.

Puppy Linux is a bootable live CD that allows you to boot your computer from the puppy linux CD, bypassng your Windows Operating system, allowing you to view (and backup) all of your computers files.  Read the entire article – here

Kaspersky Boot CD – This is a wonderful free utility provided by Kaspersky antivirus that allows you to create a bootable CD and scan your computers for viruses and other nasty unwanted programs.

Ultimate BootDisk 4 Windows
The “Ultimate Boot CD 4 Windows” (www.ubcd4win.com ) by Benjamin Burrows is a bootable CD that runs WindowsPE (XP Post Environment).  Built on Bart-PE, The Ultimate BootCD for Windows is stuffed with useful utilities specifically selected to diagnose and test hardware, recover and backup data, scan for viruses, adware and spyware and fix many computers problems.  You create the bootable CD, but you must have the Windows XP-SP2 installation Cd, a CD burner and download the UBCD4win tools and image creation utility.  The site provides both written and videos instructions.

Toolkit – PC Firewall

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Zone Alarm Personal Firewall by Zone Labs
Protects your computer by placing a barrier between your PC and all network traffic coming in and going out of your computer.  Make sure you are downloading the free ZoneAlarm firewall and not the ZoneAlarm Security suite which is “nagware”.  What that means is that after 30-60 days of free use, the software begins to nag you to upgrade to the paid version.

Rootkit Scanner

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A rootkit is a stealthy type of malicious software (malware) designed to hide it existence from the Windows operating system as well as hide from Antivirus and AntiMalware scanners.  If your computer continues, and I’m talking every few minutes or hours, to become re-infected with Trojans, Viruses, or Malware then you might have a rootkit.  Rootkits can remain on your computer and re-infect the computer even if you perform a system restore, reload your operating system, or use a manufactures factory installation media.

Malware-Bytes  Rootkit scanner - An excellent utiity that is small, easy to use and is one of the best rootkit scanners available.

Kapersky Anti-rootkit utility – TDSSKiller is a free utility provided by Kapersky that will scan for Malicious rootkit software on your computer. 

McAfee now provides a Rootkit scanner -  A Rootkit is basically a malicous program (virus) that hides itself by using invalid WIndows characters – Microsoft will not let you create a file or folder with characters – !@#$%^&*()….).  Most antivirus scanners can not detect rootkits.

Toolkit – AntiMalware and AntiSpyware

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Special Note:   Remember – If your computer appears to be infected the first step I perform is a Windows System Restore.  A system restore will return your computers system files to a state recorded on a particlulare date and time you have selected.

The longer the virus, malware, or scare-ware is running the more deeply it can embed itself into your computer, even disabling the ability to install antivirus / antimalware scanners.  When you perform a system restore the malicious files may still be on your computer but the modifications made by the virus that allows it to run when the computer starts up or the changes to critical system files will have be removed and restored.  You need to still need to scan your computer after the system restore with an updated Anti-virus and / or Malware scanner.

To perform a system restore:
Start / (all) Programs / Accessories / System Tools / System Restore. Restore your computer to an earlier date and time (when your computer was not infected).

Malwarebytes (free edition Scanner – Purchased version provide realtime protection)
I started using this little GEM of a scanner when some of my Favorite scanners failed to detect or remove nasty infection like the Vundo Virus, AntiVirus 2008/2009/360 and many others.  This scanner detects virus, malware, trojans, and other unwanted programs by how they behave, what they access, if they are monitoring keystrokes, spawning / creating / modifying exiting programs.  This is my favorite scanner -  1/2012.
Go to MalwareBytes.Org to download the free version or use this direct link – Download MalwareBytes.  If the previous download link does not work then you can click here to download directly from FileHippo.com

Super Antispyware scanner
Download the free version of SUPERAntispyware protection. The free utility is one of my favorite tools that I install to detect and remove malicious software.

ComboFIX
This free utility should only be downloaded from Bleepingcomputer.com as the author has authorized this as the only distribution source.  This powerful utility is included in my toolkit but should be used by experienced technicians (or desperate users).  The creator of this utility also warns that the utility should not be used without supervision or it could cause your computer to not operate correctly.

Panda Cloud antivirus and Malware Scanner -  Cloud based scanning does not require you to install the software but simply initiate the scan from within your web browser.  The utility make take a little longer but this type of scanner has the advantage of being able to scan your computers when the virus prevents the installation of traditional  removal tools.

Microsoft  Malicious Software removal tool -  Anti-Malware and Virus protection.  This tool continues to be updated by Microsoft and now include Botnet detection.

Norman Malware Cleaner – PC Magizone rated this scanner just below Malware Bytes by only a few points so it must be pretty good.

Toolkit – AntiVirus

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Special Note:

Remember – If your computer appears to be infected the first step I perform is a Windows System Restore.  A system restore will return your computers system files to a state recorded on a particlulare date and time you have selected.

The longer the virus, malware, or scare-ware is running the more deeply it can embed itself into your computer, even disabling the ability to install antivirus / antimalware scanners.  When you perform a system restore the malicious files may still be on your computer but the modifications made by the virus that allows it to run when the computer starts up or the changes to critical system files will have be removed and restored.  You need to still need to scan your computer after the system restore with an updated Anti-virus and / or Malware scanner.

To perform a system restore:
Start / (all) Programs / Accessories / System Tools / System Restore. Restore your computer to an earlier date and time (when your computer was not infected).

Most Internet Service Providers (Comcast, ATT, brighthouse) provide a free Anti-Virus security suit.  If your ISP does not provide antivirus protection, select one of the free suits below.

Microsoft Security Essentials
Free antivirus and Malware protection from Microsoft.  We recommend this Microsoft antivirus for Windows 8, 7 and Vista as it provides excellent protection, does not seem to slow down the computer, and integrates well with the Windows OS (of course) instead of loading up the system with addtional processes and programs.

AVG Anti-Virus
Click on the link for information on Grisoft’s free and fully functional version of their popular anti-virus software. Free for home use and registration is not required. Download Here

Avast
Free for home use and registration may be required.  Avast is another one of the free antiVirus software packages that all of the Internet Advisor team has used at one pint or another.  Download here

Avira Antivirus
Avira has a free antivirus software that can be used for personal use and support Windows XP, 2000, and 98.   Free AntiVir Personal EditionDownload here

Symantec / Norton Security tools – A list of specific programs that will remove an individual trojan or Virus

Microsoft Bootable Windows Defender – Microsoft Windows defender on a bootable USB stick or CD.  Once created you can boot your computer from the USB flash drive or CD and allow Windows Defender to scan and remove Viruses and Malware.

Internet Search tips and tricks

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Ed Rudel Special Search Tips (Click on link to hear the segment of our 4/09/11 program where we discuss the tips and the new addition to the Toolkit)

Can you imagine the internet without web search capabilities?   We would have to know specific web site addresses for every web site we visit.  A simple comparison would be memorizing all of the phone numbers we use on a daily basis and if we needed to find a new business or person we would have to look the information using the yellow or white pages.

Internet search portals provide the ability to type in a simple name, phase, or question and display a list of web site links that contain the words you provided.  These search results can be overwhelmingly huge and may or may not pertain to the information you were looking for.

The more specific the information you provide (the search criteria) the better the results.  Internet sites like “Google, Bing, Yahoo, or About.com are continuously refining and improving but there are a number of tips you can use to improve your Search results on your favorite Internet search site.

If you have an Internet Search tip or trick, send it to ed@internetadvisor.net and I may include it into the list below.

Be specific – When you first start your search type in as much information as possible. This will reduce the number of unrelated items when the search is performed. Instead of typing the search phrase – unable to receive emailtype in the specific error message and what program is generating the error. Example: Outlook express Error 0x800c0133Furture, you can include the Windows operating system or what version of Outlook express. 

Example: Windows Vista Outlook express 7 Error 0x800c0133

Another Example:  Royal Oak Michigan hardware appliance repair parts
We are providing a city and state but are interested in locating a hardware store that provides appliance parts.

Use Quote around your search phrase. The addition of quotes in your search phase will reduce the number of false results.  Example:  “Chevy Cavalier” “Engine Code” P0440 2001 

In this example we are grouping the “Chevy Cavalier” and “Engine Code” but the specific year of the car, 2001, and the actual error code, P0440, may appear anywhere on the web pages that are searched.

If your search results look too narrow or limited forget specifics and quotes Sometime you may be proving too much information and the search results are too few or completely miss the mark.  You may want to remove the “quotes” in the phase and remove any unnecessary word.  Referencing the example above, instead of specifying the year, 2001 and the model, Chevy Cavalier and broaden the search try search for just the error code and the manufactgure. 

Example:  GM engine code P0440

Check your Spelling Correct spelling is important if you want accurate search results.  This is less important as most internet search site will either correct commonly misspelled words or provide a link with the corrected search.On rare occasion, you may want to search using the common misspelling, especially when searching a name. In the age or Blogging and twittering there is no copy editor.Example: Greg or Gregg,  John 0r Jon, Duane or Dwain 

Another example would be alternate spellings used in other countries.

Use Colour , the European spelling of “Color”

I still remember reading J. R. R. Tolkens, the Hobbit when I was 12 years old and counting what I thought was 12 misspelling of the word, Colour.

Use Abbreviations , sometimes Sometimes, when I have difficulty searching for an item or piece of information I will remove the common spelling of the word and use an abbreviation. 

Eng = Engine

Info = information

Month = instead of January 21, try Jan 21

Include FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) or HELP in the search phase If you are searching for answers to a specific question you may want to include, Help or FAQ into your search phase.  Most web sites include a help or FAQ section on their site and there are countless site and forums dedicated to answering questions.  This can dramatically reduce the number of results as well as target web pages or articles specifically designed to answer common questions.

The Best Free Software of 2010

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Get what you DON’T pay for!  PC Mag reports on 196 programs that cost nothing but will make your computing life richer while keeping your wallet fat!

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