What tools are available to prevent malware from getting into the computer?

Posted on 2005-05-08
Last Modified: 2013-12-04
I fix computers for a living. Until recently, I have been able to stop most infections of computers by using the following tools:

Ad-Aware SE
AVG 7.0
Spybot Search & Destroy
Spyware Blaster

One of the most common problems is the inability to update AVG and Ad-Aware from the Internet, and even to get connected to the Internet at all. The above tools used to fix all these problems, but now there seems to be something else which infects the computers and keeps them from getting on the Internet. But there are other problems which crop up, too, and are very, very difficult to get rid of. I can always format the hard drive and start over with a re-installation of Windows XP, but I am really concerned that I never really know what caused the problem.

I like to know what's going on. If I were an auto mechanic, I would not garner respect from my customers if I was always saying to them, "You just need a new car." So, please help me know what's going on out there, and let me know about some new tools and methods for detecting and getting rid of the malware which gets in under the radar. Thanks a lot.
Question by:coderlen
    LVL 37

    Assisted Solution

    by:Harisha M G
    Hi coderlen,

    Have you run MS AntSpy ??

    LVL 33

    Assisted Solution

    Sounds like you have a pretty good selection there.  A firewall's a good idea, too, even for a home computer these days.

    You can find a first rate anti-malware info resource here:  It features good info on a number of useful tools.
    LVL 12

    Accepted Solution


    Here's some I use:

    {Agent Ransack}Lite - free version




    {Keylogger Hunter}

    {Process Explorer}


    Advanced Process Manager


    Killbox (Pocket Killbox)

    EScan-mwav toolkit  (free version finds things - pay version removes)

    Silent Runners (vbs)


    Supershell  (careful with this one - very powerful)

    Ewido Trojan Scan  
    (14 day, fully functional trial - limited functionality after)

    Hope this helps!

    Good luck!

    LVL 12

    Expert Comment

    Also, take a look at these:

    Here are some tips, to reduce the potential for spyware infection in the future -
        * Spywareguard <= SpywareGuard offers realtime protection
          from spyware installation attempts.

        * How to use Ad-Aware to remove Spyware
          <= If you suspect that you have spyware installed on your computer,
          here are instructions on how to download, install and then use Ad-Aware.

        * How to use Spybot to remove Spyware
          <= If you suspect that you have spyware installed on your computer,
          here are instructions on how to download, install and then use Spybot.
          Similar to Ad-Aware, I strongly recommend both to catch most spyware.

        * Run CWShredder - to remove numerous variants of {KoolWebSearch}
            {CWShredder - "stand-alone"} -

    To protect yourself further:

        * IE/Spyad <= IE/Spyad places over 4000 websites and domains
          in the IE Restricted list
          which will severely impair attempts to infect your system.
          It basically prevents any downloads (Cookies etc) from the sites listed,
          although you will still be able to connect to the sites.

        * MVPS Hosts file <= The MVPS Hosts file replaces your current HOSTS file
          with one containing well know ad sites etc.
          Basically, this prevents your computer from connecting to those sites
          by redirecting them to which is your local computer

        * Google Toolbar <= Get the free google toolbar to help stop pop up windows.

    I also suggest that you delete any files from "temp", "tmp" folders.
    In Internet Explorer, click on "Tools" => "Internet Options" => "Delete Files"
    and select the box that says "Delete All Offline Content" and click on "OK" twice.
    Also, empty the recycle bin by right clicking on it and selecting "Empty Recycle Bin".
    These steps should be done on a regular basis.

    And also see TonyKlein's good advice
    So how did I get infected in the first place?

    LVL 6

    Assisted Solution

    Hi coderlen,

    I personally, use following tools as protection...

    * Anti-virus   (AVG)  (scheduled to scan everyday for full scan)
    * Firewall    (Zone-alarm)
    * Anti-spyware Real Time ( MS Antispyware  or  Tea Timer from SPYBOT)  (MS Antivirus is scheduled everyday for full scan)
    * anti-spyware/malware scanning tools (Adaware, spybot , Hijackthis)
    * Web Browser  (firefox, with not allowing any website to install any applications)  (use IE only when it is MUST, like pages which work only with ActiveX)
    (**** Internet Explorer is the biggest source of spyware and malware ****)

     and if i feel there is a infection, then to pinpoint it...

    * winsockfix ( as u will know for what)
    * TCPview ( for identifying process which are opening connection to Net)  (
    * Process Explorer (for identifying minutest detail about processes running, and is able to kill processes which are not KILLed by windows task manager)  (
    * AutoRuns (for finding all the applications, which are getting started at startup, you will be surprised, the number of ways it is possible)  (
    * Good info on Preventing Browser Hijacking  here:

    and of-course being diligent in keeping everything uptodate...
    LVL 29

    Assisted Solution


    To Home Users: Do you want free security programs that really works?

    LVL 7

    Assisted Solution

    This one link does it all:

    Security Windows XP resource guide:

    LVL 38

    Assisted Solution

    by:Rich Rumble
    When using XP be sure to turn off system restore BEFORE removing spyware and or viri (applies to spyware also)

    The best tool against spyware, is FireFox (actually it's using a MAC or linux). or just about any browser that doesn't support ActiveX, even with activeX turned off in IE it's easy to get spyware still.
    And another main reason people get spyware in the first place, they run as administrators of their machines for day-2-day activites. Best practices state that you should never run as a administrator of your machine, unless that privledge is necessary for the work you need to do. Otherwise you can use runas to do most anything you need. I've also made some runas scripts that can help you automate this even further than right-clicking an exe or program and selecting runas

    I use FireFox/Mozilla exclusively, and IE only when I find a page that won't render correctly in FF. I use ad-aware to see if I have any spyware, and I never do, although adaware thinks some of the cookies I have are, but that's all.
    LVL 4

    Author Comment

    I have not been sitting here idly. I have been researching all the links you wonderful people posted, and gaining in knowledge and experience. Thanks to you all very much, because the responses have truly been excellent.

    Just for the record, the particular computer I was working on has been fixed. The problem was that I could not update AVG, or Ad-Aware, or Spybot, from the Internet. I was able to get connected to the Internet and browse web pages, just couldn't get those tools updated. Then, to my surprise, the Internet stopped working altogether. But, I could still ping the sites. Strange. I had seen this before just recently, and I posted a question on EE. Take a look if you want:

    The fix for that problem was to reformat the hard drive and re-install Windows. Not something I like to do, because it tells the customer that I don't know what's wrong. Hey, the customers can re-install Windows, they don't need me for that.

    In the case of the current computer, I found that Norton was the cause of the problem. That's right, folks, Norton. I had noticed on another computer that as soon as Norton was disabled, the Internet started working again! So, I took a chance and manually deleted all references to Norton and Symantec in the Registry, and then I did the same in Windows Explorer. It took hours, but it was worth it. That's all I did, and as soon as I rebooted, the Internet was working again! I can see now why it's called the Norton Disease.

    I now have a need to use a script to do this, instead of manually. I just created another question, worth 500 points, so that I can get a script to help me do this. You're welcome to respond to that question if you feel you can help. Here is the link:

    Anyway, I need to award points to you good people. Unfortunately, I can't give you the points you deserve. I'd give 500 to most of you, if I could. But, I have to split the points. You have certainly answered the question I posted, and now I have a bunch more tools to add to my toolbox.

    Here is how I awared points. I gave points to everybody who responded. But some of you had many suggestions, which I feel is worth more points. And some of you suggested sites which were right on the mark. That is also worth more points. I only had 500 points to distribute, and I didn't give more than 100 points to anybody, although I wish I could have.

    mgh_mgharish 25 Yeah, it looks good. I had some trouble installing and running it. Not your fault, probably something I did. Anyway, I've heard of AntiSpy, just had never tried it until your suggestion. Thanks.

    humeniuk 75 Way too much for me to comprehend right now Very inclusive. You are right, it is a first-rate link. Thanks!

    rossfingal 100 You suggested a wealth of resources. I didn't have time to check them all, but I will save them for future reference. Thanks a lot!

    kapes 100 Thanks, kapes, for your excellent suggestions. I appreciate the fact that it was concise. Some of these I haven't used, but I've heard of them. I will work them into my toolbox.
    blue_zee 75 Nice site, blue_zee. This is a concise listing of all protection needed. I didn't have time to research this much, but the site looks good. Thanks for the info.

    bullshooter5 75 You are right, this is one all-encompassing link. Too much for me to digest at this time, but I'll keep coming back to it in the future. Thanks.
    richrumble 50 Your comments are very interesting, epecially when you say you never have any spyware! That's a testimony to the protection you are using. I new that FireFox was good, but now I know it's superb, going on what you said. Thanks.

    Thanks again for all the valuable suggestions. It was well worth posting the question. We all need to be security-conscious, and your responses really opened my eyes. I really appreciate your help.
    LVL 33

    Expert Comment

    "humeniuk 75 Way too much for me to comprehend right now Very inclusive. You are right, it is a first-rate link. Thanks!"

    Yes, it's not a light read.  However, it's a great resource that's there if/when you need it.  Thanks for the A.
    LVL 29

    Expert Comment


    Thank you for the nice feedback and comments posted.

    Glad you found it useful.


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