Windows Cleaning Toolkit is a rogue anti-spyware program from the
family of computer infections. This program is considered scareware because it does not allow you to access your Windows desktop, terminates legitimate applications when you attempt to run them, and display false scan results and security alerts that state your computer is under attack. This program will also be configured to start automatically before your Windows desktop is shown, which makes your computer unusable until the infection is removed. Windows Cleaning Toolkit is distributed through web sites that display a fake online virus scanner that states your computer is infected and then prompts you to download the installation file. This infection is also promoted by hacked web sites that contain exploit code that tries to install the infection on your computer without your permission or knowledge.
Once Windows Cleaning Toolkit is installed it will be configured to automatically start when you login to Windows. Once started, it will pretend to scan your computer and then states that there are numerous infections present. If you attempt to remove any of these supposed infections, the program will state that you first need to purchase a license before being allowed to do so. As all of the scan results are false, please ignore any prompts to purchase the program.
Windows Cleaning Toolkit screen shot
For more screen shots of this infection click on the image above.
There are a total of 3 images you can view.
To protect itself from being removed, Windows Cleaning Toolkit will also block you from running any legitimate application on your computer. It does this to prevent you from running legitimate security software that may detect it as an infection and remove it. The message that you will see when you attempt to run a program is:
Firewall has blocked a program from accessing the Internet
is suspected to have infected your PC.
This type of virus intercepts entered data and transmits them
to a remote server.
When you see this message please ignore it as your programs are not infected and will work normally after this infection is removed.
While Windows Cleaning Toolkit is running it will also display fake security alerts that are designed to make you think your computer has a severe security problem. Some of these warnings include:
Trojan activity detected. System data security is at risk.
It is recommended to activate protection and run a full system scan.
Recommended: Please use secure encrypted protocol for torrent links.
Torrent link detected!
Receiving this notification means that you have violated:
- the copyright laws. Using Torrent for downloading movies and licensed software shall be prosecuted and you may be sued for cybercrime and break of law under the SOPA legislation.
Just like the scan results, these warnings are fake and can be ignored.
Without a doubt, this program was designed for one reason; to scare you into purchasing the program. It goes without
saying that you should definitely not purchase Windows Cleaning Toolkit, and if you already have,
please contact your credit card company and dispute the charges stating that
the program is a scam and a computer virus. To remove Windows Cleaning Toolkit and other
related malware, please use the free removal guide below.
View Windows Cleaning Toolkit files.
View Windows Cleaning Toolkit Registry Information.
Tools Needed for this fix:
Symptoms that may be in a HijackThis Log:
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [GuardSoftware] %AppData%\guard-<random>.exe
11/26/13 - Initial guide creation.
Automated Removal Instructions for Windows Cleaning Toolkit using Emsisoft Anti-Malware:
- For the first part of this removal guide you will need to use a different
computer than the infected one in order to download and save some files that we need for the fix.
- On a clean computer, start a web browser and download and save the following Windows Registry file to your desktop from the link below:
- When the file has finished downloading, please burn it on to a CD or save it to a USB drive so that we can transfer the file to the infected computer.
- When you have finished saving the RemVimes.reg registry file to a removable media, please reboot the infected computer. While the computer is starting please
being to repeatedly tap the F8 key on your keyboard. This
will open up the Advanced Boot Options screen, in Windows
7 or Vista, or the Windows Advanced Options Menu in Windows
XP. The screen that you need to get to will look similar to the one below.
At the above screen you will see a variety of options that can be used to
boot Windows. Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, highlight the option
labeled Safe Mode with Command Prompt. Once it is highlighted,
click on the Enter key on your keyboard.
- Windows will now start and if you have multiple accounts or a password on
your single account, you will be presented with a screen asking you to login
to Windows. Please select your account and enter any password that you may
have. When done, the Windows Command Prompt will open and you will see a screen
similar to the one below.
The Command Prompt allows you to type commands and then press Enter on your
keyboard to execute them. In this Command Prompt window, please type explorer.exe
and then press Enter on your keyboard.
- The Windows desktop will now appear. When the desktop appears you can then
close the Command Prompt window by clicking on the X.
- Now insert your CD or USB drive and open up the drive letter associated with your inserted media. You can access this drive letter by opening the Computer icon on your desktop or from the Start Menu. Once the drive letter is open, double-click on the RemVimes.reg and allow the data to be merged when you are prompted. Once the data has been merged, you can press the OK button and remove the removable media from your computer.
- Please reboot your computer into the normal Windows mode and login as the infected user. When you are back at your normal Windows desktop please continue with the next step.
- Now that you are at your normal Windows desktop, we need to download Emsisoft Anti-Malware, which will clean the remnants of this infection for free. Please download and save the Emsisoft Anti-Malware setup program to your desktop from the link below:
The download is fairly large, so please be patient while it downloads.
- Once the file has been downloaded, double-click on the EmsisoftAntiMalwareSetup.exe icon to start the program. If Windows Smart Screen issues an alert, please allow it to run anyway.
If the setup program displays an alert about safe mode, please click on the Yes button to continue. You should now see a dialog asking you to agree to a license agreement. Please access the agreement and click on the Install button to continue with the installation.
- You will eventually get to a screen asking what type of license you wish to use with Emsisoft Anti-Malware.
If you have an existing license key or want to buy a new license key, please select the appropriate option. Otherwise, select the Freeware or Test for 30 days, free option. If you receive an alert after clicking this button that your trial has expired, just click on the Yes button to enter freeware mode, which still allows the cleaning of infections.
- You will now be at a screen asking if you wish to join Emsisoft's Anti-Malware network. Read the descriptions and select your choice to continue.
- Emsisoft Anti-Malware will now begin to update it's virus detections.
Please be patient as it may take a few minutes for the updates to finish downloading.
- When the updates are completed, you will be at a screen asking if you wish to enable PUPs detection. We strongly suggest that you select Enable PUPs Detection to protect your computer from nuisance programs such as toolbars and adware.
- You will now be at a screen asking what type of scan you would like to perform.
Please select the Full Scan option to begin scanning your computer for infections. The Full Scan option will take the longest time to scan your computer, but will also be the most thorough. As you are here to clean infections, it is worth the wait to make sure your computer is properly scanned.
- Emsisoft Anti-Malware will now start to scan your computer for rootkits and malware. Please note that the detected infections in the image below may be different than what this guide is for.
Please be patient while Emsisoft Anti-Malware scans your computer.
- When the scan has finished, the program will display the scan results that shows what infections where found. Please note, due to an updated version of Emsisoft Anti-Malware, the screenshot below may look different than the rest of the guide.
Now click on the Quarantine Selected button, which will remove the infections and place them in the program's quarantine. You will now be at the last screen of the Emsisoft Anti-Malware setup program, which you can close. If Emsisoft prompts you to reboot your computer to finish the clean up process, please allow it to do so.
- Please reboot your computer into the normal Windows mode and when you are back at your normal Windows desktop or Windows Start Screen please continue with the next step.
- As this infection is known to be installed by vulnerabilities in out-dated and insecure programs, it is strongly suggested that you use
Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs on your computer. A tutorial on
how to use Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs can be found here:
detect vulnerable and out-dated programs using Secunia Personal Software Inspector
Your computer should now be free of the
Windows Cleaning Toolkit
infection. If your current anti-virus solution let this infection through,
you may want to consider purchasing the
full version of Emsisoft Anti-malware to protect your computer against these types
of threats in the future.
If you are still having problems with your computer after completing these instructions, then please follow the steps outlined in the topic linked below:
Preparation Guide For Use Before Using Malware Removal Tools and Requesting Help
Associated Windows Cleaning Toolkit Files:
File Location Notes:
%AppData% refers to the current users Application Data folder. By default, this is C:\Documents and Settings\<Current User>\Application Data for Windows 2000/XP. For Windows Vista and Windows 7 it is C:\Users\<Current User>\AppData\Roaming.
Associated Windows Cleaning Toolkit Windows Registry Information:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run "GuardSoftware" = "%AppData%\guard-<random>.exe"
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon "Shell"="C:\\Users\\User\\AppData\\Roaming\\guard-<random>.exe"
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\msseces.exe "Debugger"="svchost.exe"
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\msmpeng.exe "Debugger"="svchost.exe"
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\system "ConsentPromptBehaviorAdmin" = "0"
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\system "ConsentPromptBehaviorUser" = "0"
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\system "EnableLUA" = "0"
This is a self-help guide. Use at your own risk.
BleepingComputer.com can not be held responsible for problems that may occur by using this information. If you would like help with any of these fixes, you can ask for malware removal assistance in our Virus, Trojan, Spyware, and Malware Removal Logs forum.
If you have any questions about this self-help guide then please post those questions in our Am I infected? What do I do? and someone will help you.