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How to remove hidden Windows malware with GMER

WindowsGMER is a free anti-malware tool that is useful to have in your Windows PC armoury. The GMER application is a very powerful tool and for the novice might feel daunting. It will work on all PCs (XP or later) but is well suited to those running 64-bit.

You want to remove a hidden malware (mainly rootkits) that hasn’t been completely removed by another Anti-Rootkit application, then you should download GMER. www.gmer.net This rootkit remover scans for hidden process, threads, modules, services, files, disk sectors; alternate data streams; registry keys; drivers hooking SSDT; drivers hooking IDT; drivers hooking IRP calls and inline hooks.

  • Download GMER EXE* and run the file ‘2m1tnvv0.exe’ (latest version)
  • Wait for software to load and then click > Scan
  • Optional – you can choose > Quick scan or C:\
  • Optional – on first scan tick all the boxes on the right i.e. System; Sections; IAT/EAT; Devices etc)

*Don’t trust the download file? Why not use http://code.kliu.org/hashcheck/ to check the hash.  GMER.exe SHA256 can be found at www.gmer.net

This scan will take some time and will impact the performance of your PC. GMER uses considerable memory, so I suggest you run this with no other programs running. You can see how much memory processes GMER consumes by opening > Windows Task Manager.

Posted in anti-virus, malware, windows | Tagged , , , | 0

How to use the Windows hosts file to block adverts

WindowsOnline advertising is an important industry for job creation, but unfortunately there are still many advertising companies that use aggressive (including Windows circumvention tactics) to deliver software bundles and with that all sorts of misleading webpages (think those download buttons!) and annoying and malicious adverts.

For the most part adverts which are not intrusive (this doesn’t include persistent cookies) and or follow you from site to site, are a fact of life and necessary if you want to consume online content without having to pay for it.

Some of my readers might already use ad blocking plugins such as AdBlock, but there is another way to block adverts by editing the Windows ‘hosts’ file. This file is your Windows address book for website domains. Every time you type an website address into your browser, the ‘hosts’ file will log it.

Note: All website domains are translated into IP address’s which then allow you to connect to that website. The ‘hosts’ file can also be used to block any web address from accessing your computer. It’s this blocking feature that I will discuss in this post.

Here is how you can block adverts from appearing in your software and your ad-supported software:

Posted in browser, google, privacy, windows | Tagged , , , , | 2

How to deactivate your Windows OS product key

WindowsIt’s actually very easy for someone to recover your Windows product serial number* from a new or old PC in which they can re-install your purchased software. You might be considering to sell an old laptop or PC, but what you didn’t know was someone can very easily find your Windows product serial number and use them without your knowledge.

*Microsoft refers to this as the ‘Windows product key’.

The Windows Registry store your product serial numbers. However deleting them, will still allow someone to find your purchased product key. In most instances you can use the software developers website to deactivate your purchased software, which involves providing your product key. You may have purchased the Windows 7 OS (i.e. upgraded from Home to Professional), so the only way you will be able to deactivate this, will be to use the Command Prompt.

Firstly you will need to find your Windows product key:

  • Start Menu > Type “cmd” > Command Prompt window opens
  • Type “slmgr /dli
  • For further information.

slmgr – stands for ‘Software Licensing Management Tool’
/dli – Displays the current license information with activation status and partial product key.

Posted in privacy, windows | Tagged , , | 0

How to disable built-in Windows bundled components

WindowsMicrosoft doesn’t make it easy for you to uninstall built-in Windows bundled components (software) such as Internet Explorer, Windows DVD Maker and Windows Search. These built-in programs might be causing performance issues (i.e. storing unnecessary cache and Registry files) or taking up too much storage space.

Prior to Windows 7, you could not disable the bundled components. So, if you downloaded and installed Firefox as your primary browser, you couldn’t disable Internet Explorer to save resource. That all changed with Windows 7 which introduced a hidden tool for switching Windows bundled software off. The tool is called ‘optionalfeatures’ which will allow you to disable the built-in Windows components (including sub-components) . This features works with Windows 7, 8 and 8.1.

  • Go to Start menu or Start screen and type > optional features
  • Click > optionalfeatures in the list of results
  • Windows Features tool (windows) appears – you can tick (enabled) and untick (disabled) any number of built-in Windows components
  • Click > ‘+’ symbol – this allows you to manage the sub-components
  • You will then need to restart your computer

Note: My advice is to be extra careful when disabling certain components. Google a component to understand what it does first!

Posted in anti-virus, malware, privacy, windows | Tagged , , | 0

How to use Windows Firewall hidden advanced tools

Windows_firewallMicrosoft Windows’ build-in firewall is one such tool we use as part of our in-house testing. The basic features alone are useful, but it’s the hidden advanced features as well as ‘God Mode’ that will be of significant interest to my readers.

If you are running Vista or later versions of Windows, you should be using the ‘Windows Firewall with Advanced Security’ settings panel. This will allow you to have greater control of your Windows applications’ inbound and outbound Internet traffic. Now, let’s setup the Windows Firewall Advanced features.

How to find and configure ‘Windows Firewall with Advanced Security’:

  • Type > firewall (from Start menu)
  • Now click Windows Firewall with Advanced Security
  • You will now see the Overview window which tells you whether the Firewall is on/off for various profiles.
  • Click > Windows Firewall Properties – here you can control the behaviour and state of your firewall
  • Click Inbound Rules (left pane) – displays a list of rules for traffic sent to your computer.*
  • Click Outbound Rules (left pane) – displays a list of rules sent from your computer.*
  • Double tap a rule (right click > Properties > General tab) and you can allow the connection if it is secure or block it
Posted in malware, privacy, windows | Tagged , , , , | 0