What You Said: Malware Fighting Tips and Tricks

Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite malware fighting tricks. Now we’re back to highlight some of the tips and tricks you shared.

Our Ask the Readers series gives our awesome and technologically literate readers a chance to show off their know-how. Today we’re rounding up some of the tips and tricks from Wednesday’s Ask the Reader post What Are Your Best Malware Fighting Tricks and highlighting them here.

Sandbox Your Browsing and File Sharing Activity

imageMultiple readers used software sandboxing as a tool for isolating harmful malware. Most used free Windows application Sandboxie and some used virtual machine applications like VMware and VirtualBox. Sandboxing your internet connected applications, especially web browsers and file sharing applications, create an extra layer between your operating system and malicious code.

Avoid Browsing as a Root User

While this tip applies across operating systems it’s most critical for Windows users. Most people (if not 99% of them) use Windows every day as an Administrator/root user. If malware finds its way onto the machine it’s simple for it to take over since the account it’s active on has full access to the machine. Second only to sandboxing your applications in popularity was restricting the user account and browsing only on limited access accounts instead of as an administrator.

Killing Processes to Enable Scanners to Remove Them

Malware infestations can be particularly pesky and their processes are tenacious. The most popular applications among HTG readers for slaying malware processes so that other applications could eradicate them were Rkill and TDSSKiller.

Reader Hammy84 said:

Start with a combination of rkill.com (the exe) to kill any running malicious processes, then up to date full scan with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, followed by a full scan with Spybot S&D. Always good to do this in safe mode too to get a thorough search completed.

Using safe mode is definitely a good tip whenever possible, as a lot of spyware doesn’t load in safe mode.

Good Malware Defense is a Multi-Prong Strategy

Very few readers suggested anything short of a multi-prong defense against malware. One of the most popular combinations by far was Microsoft Security Essentials running every day + frequent scans with CCleaner (to clean out the non-malware crap you don’t want to waste your time scanning and dealing with) as well as scans with Malwarebyte’s Anti-Malware. For fighting off messy infections that were already full-blown, Combofix is one of the more popular deep-scan tools.

As an example of the multi-prong approach, reader Duckbrain wrote:

I was dealing with a particularly difficult one for a friend last night. Tried MalwareBytes, Safe Mode and cleaning all startup objects, and even ClamAV on Ubuntu. I finally got it by clicking and pressing keys until it froze and force-closed it. Then I used CCleaner to find the executable in the startup objects and deleted it by hand. Finally, I installed Microsoft Security Essentials to protect from attacks in the future.

Don’t forget to make sure you’ve got an up-to-date anti-virus software installed once you get everything clean. We recommend Microsoft Security Essentials.


For more tips and tricks, hit up the original post to see how your fellow readers deal with malware and what programs they roll out in the attack. Have a question you want to put before the How-To Geek audience? Shoot us an email at tips@howtogeek.com with “Ask the Readers” in the subject line and we’ll see what we can do.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.