Rootkit removal is not recommended for computer newbies. Rootkits are not like standard computer viruses, and they can cause greater damage to users than other malware variants. In many instances, rootkits evade the scans of antivirus apps and stay hidden in the system kernel for months.
Meanwhile, they send user data to malicious hackers, which in turn helps them gain administrative control over their compromised PCs. For lasting and comprehensive rootkit removal, it may be necessary to use specialized applications.
While a number of antivirus programs have in built rootkit detection and cleanup features, it is strongly recommended not to rely on them alone. Every PC user should have stand alone rootkit removal apps at hand for enhanced security. Fortunately, there are a variety of dedicated anti-rootkit apps available at no cost.
Each anti-rootkit app will have its distinct detection and removal method and requires different expertise. However, almost all such apps perform a comprehensive system scan to detect rootkits untraced so far. This can be time consuming, but the results of a thorough rootkit removal are worth the wait. In some cases, restarting a rootkit infected PC may be required to complete the cleanup.
However, to be safe, you should backup important files before running a rootkit cleanup. At times, rootkits can rename and corrupt Windows system files, and removing them may result in a crash and unprecedented system instability. In such cases, users may need to use a Windows bootable DVD or CD to replace corrupt system files with the original ones.
It is recommended that users of rootkit-infected PCs run scan and removal processes when their computers are not connected to any wired and wireless networks (this way your rootkit removal attempts cannot be disturbed by the attackers).
In order to improve the possibility of rootkit detection you should run your scan and removal processes from a non-infected boot medium which contains your chosen anti-rootkit apps. In case you don’t have such rescue mediums built yet, don’t worry. Several reputed software vendors offer ready to burn rescue images at no cost to support you in removing rootkits.
Generally, it is advised to create a bootable rescue medium right after you installed the operating system on your computer and install your chosen security software on that medium. If you are not keen on burning several CD-ROMs, I suggest that you take a look at SARDU. This great multiboot builder software allows you to merge the most common components easily to a single CD-ROM disk.
Regardless of whether you use a dedicated anti-rootkit app or a rescue medium for rootkit removal, you should not stop scanning your computer just because one scan revealed and removed a rootkit. Always be aware that there might be other rootkits and malware types on your computer which could not be revealed and removed by the currently used app or rescue image. Therefore take your time and use the available anti-rootkit apps and rescue images to increase the chances of rootkit removal.
However it may happen that your chosen anti-rootkit apps or rescue images may not succeed in finding or removing certain rootkits. This circumstance is related to the fact that rootkits can make far-reaching changes to your computer which may only be fixed by malware removal experts.
When conventional methods of rootkit cleanup do not succeed, seeking professional help becomes a necessity. Malware removal experts can perform boot disk based scans and clean rootkits from the MBR of an infected PC. In the worst case scenario, erasing the hard drive and reinstalling the OS may be necessary.
If you or the malware removal expert of your choice comes to the conclusion that only a clean install of your operating system fixes the problem you should take all measures to protect your computer against new rootkit infections. Make sure that your primary antimalware app has a great rootkit detection rate and follow my rootkit prevention tips.