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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I recently got hit by some malware and had to call in a pro to clean it up for me. Is there any way I can handle this problem on my own?

A. Many times you may be able to fix a malware problem yourself as long as you feel comfortable working on your computer. Many people do not and they should almost always consult a professional when faced with such situations. On the other hand, carefully fixing your computer will help you learn new skills so it may be beneficial for you to attempt malware removal.

The first step is to determine exactly what malware has infected your computer. Many times it will announce its name in some sort of dialog box. "Scareware" (in which some infection attempts to scare you into purchasing an unnecessary removal tool) is a prime example. Obtain the name and then Google it to find out what the malware is and how to remove it.

Of course, this step may require that you have access to a second and uninfected computer. Certain malware programs will cut off your access to the Internet and make this research task much more difficult. Once you have researched the malware, look for a site that tells you, in great detail EXACTLY what is required to remove the infection. Some sites will be very helpful and others not. Never pay any money to have some site remove the infection for you - quite often they will only add to your difficulty by infecting you with additional unwanted programs.

If, on reading the directions you think you have a good understanding of how to remove the problem and it appears to be within your abilities, give it a try. If the directions state that you need to make changes to your Registry or other advanced topics and these suggestions are too technical for you, then call in that pro.

One fix you can always try on your own is to use MalwareBytes. This is a free program which will scan your system for malware infections and remove many of them.

Published: Courier 8/5/12 - Page 4C