What is a Polymorphic Virus?
A Polymorphic virus is among the most difficult to eviscerate, because it is designed to constantly change itself and its encryption to evade security programs. As its name suggests, this type of virus morphs – in fact, it alters itself each time it replicates itself on the same machine. For this reason, finding all instances of a polymorphic virus for removal is tedious. Many standard anti-virus programs can catch some but not all of a polymorphic virus, so if you choose to use an anti-virus software it’s advised to use one that has complex algorithms able to detect complicated viruses. As an alternative, you can also attempt to get rid of the virus using do-it-yourself methods such as an operating system restore.
If you are unable to successfully run programs, or programs run too slowly, enter safe mode before trying to get rid of the virus. Reboot your computer and then hit the F8 key before you see anything on the computer screen. Choose “Safe mode with networking” from the list of options and wait for your desktop to load. All icons will be enlarged, but should still work as normal.
How do I Remove Polymorphic Viruses?
To remove a Polymorphic virus from your computer, follow one of the two options below:
Option 1: Download and Run Microsoft Security Essentials
Microsoft Security Essentials, sometimes called MSE, is a free security program. It uses heuristics among its detection methods, making it possible to catch polymorphic viruses on your computer.
- Visit windows.microsoft.com/mse on your Internet browser. Click on the “Download” button and choose the desired version of the software. When prompted, allow Microsoft to being the installation process by clicking “Yes.” Follow the on screen prompts to approve the download, including accepting the license terms.
- Turn on the Windows Firewall by checking the box next to “If no firewall is turned on, turn on Windows Firewall.” This can thwart future infections and malware from accessing your hard drive. Click “Next.”
- Check the box next to “Scan my computer for potential threats after getting the latest updates.” This will prompt MSE to look for and eliminate the polymorphic virus once you installed it on your machine. Click “Finish” to start the software download, which takes a few minutes.
- When the top of the MSE window says “PC Status: Protected” with a green banner, the program is installed and running on your computer. You will now be protected from future threats, but to deal with the virus that currently exists you need to run a scan. Click on the “Full” bubble on the right side of the screen and choose “Scan now.”
- Wait for the program to do a complete scan of your machine. If prompted, allow MSE to quarantine and delete the virus. Keep the program running at all times in the future to block other viruses.
Option 2: Conduct a System Restore
If your virus scanner can’t locate all instances of a polymorphic virus, you may need to reset your hard drive to a previous date. This process is known as a system restore. In most cases you can run a system restore from the Control Panel. If you are unable to boot your computer, you can also use an installation disc. You don’t have to use the same disc that came with your computer, as long as it is for the same operating system version that you have running currently.
A system restore reverses your operating system to a point in time before the virus attacked. You will lose any recently added data, program, and files, but the virus should be removed as well.
- Go the Start menu and choose “All Programs” and then “Accessories.” In the System Tools folder, click on “System Restore.”
- If you can’t boot your machine, insert the Windows installation disc into your computer and wait for it to load. Instead of choosing the installation link, choose the “Repair” link instead to pull up a menu or recovery options When prompted, choose “Next” from the System Restore window. Click on the “System Restore” link in the system recover options screen.
- Choose the point to which you want the hard drive to be restored. Windows will provide a list of possible restoration dates. If you have an idea of when the virus first attacked your computer, choose a restore point before that date. If you are unsure about when you became infected, choose the earliest date in the list.
- Choose “Next” and then “Finish” to start the system restore. During the process, you will be unable to use any programs on your computer.
- Wait for your computer to automatically reboot when the restore is complete. Your hard drive will be restored to the previous date when the virus did not exist.
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