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How to remove Windows Maintenance Guard

By on June 18, 2012 @ 08:12 PM | Read 8,692 times.
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Windows Maintenance Guard is categorized as a rogue anti-spyware programs because it deliberately displays fake scan results, shows fake security warnings, and prevents you from running your normal computer programs. This family of rogues is typically promoted through hacked web sites that attempt to infect you by exploiting vulnerabilities on your computer. This rogue is also spread through advertisements that pretend to be an online anti-malware scanner that scan your computer and states you are infected while prompting you to download and install the software.

 

Windows Maintenance Guard screen shot
Windows Maintenance Guard screen shot
For more screen shots of this infection click on the image above.
There are a total of 3 images you can view.

 

While being installed, Windows Maintenance Guard will be set to launch automatically when you login into Windows. The installer will also create numerous Windows Registry keys that make it so that you are unable to launch many of your normal programs. Instead when you attempt to run a program, the rogue will be opened and state that the program was infected. This is done to make you think that your legitimate programs are infected while at the same time making it more difficult for you to remove the infection.

When started, Windows Maintenance Guard will perform a scan of your computer and state that there are numerous computer infections present. If you attempt to remove any of these infections with the program, though, it will state that you first need to purchase it before it will allow you you to do so. As all the files it detects are either harmless or do not exist on the computer, please ignore the scan results and proceed with the rest of the removal guide.

When running, Windows Maintenance Guard will also display fake security warnings that are worded to make you think that your computer is under attack or that a remote computer has access to your private documents and information. Examples of some alerts that you may see include:

Error
Attempt to modify registry key entries detected. Registry entry analysis is recommended.

Error
Attempt to run a potentially dangerous script detected.
Full system scan is highly recommended.

Just like the scan results, all of these security alerts are fake and should be ignored.

As you can see, Windows Maintenance Guard was created to make you think that your computer is severely infected that so that you will be scared into purchasing the program. With this said, for absolutely no reason should you purchase this program, and if you have, you should contact your credit card company and dispute the charge stating that the program is a scam and a computer virus. To remove Windows Maintenance Guard and related malware, please follow the steps in the removal guide below.

 

Threat Classification:

 

Advanced information:

View Windows Maintenance Guard files.
View Windows Maintenance Guard Registry Information.

 

Tools Needed for this fix:

 

Symptoms that may be in a HijackThis Log:

O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [Inspector] %AppData%\Protector-<random 3 chars>.exe
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [Inspector] %AppData%\Protector-<random 4 chars>.exe

 

Guide Updates:

06/18/12 - Initial guide creation.

 


Automated Removal Instructions for Windows Maintenance Guard using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware:

 

  1. Print out these instructions as we may need to close every window that is open later in the fix.

  2. It is possible that the infection you are trying to remove will not allow you to download files on the infected computer. If you run into this problem when following the steps in this guide you will need to download the files requested in this guide on another computer and then transfer them to the infected computer. You can transfer the files via a CD/DVD, external drive, or USB flash drive.

  3. Reboot your computer into Safe Mode with Networking using the instructions for your version of Windows found in the following tutorial:
    How to start Windows in Safe Mode
    When following the steps in the above tutorial, select Safe Mode with Networking rather than just Safe Mode. When the computer reboots into Safe Mode with Networking make sure you login with the username you normally use. When you are at your Windows desktop, please continue with the rest of the steps.

  4. This infection changes your Windows settings to use a proxy server that will not allow you to browse any pages on the Internet with Internet Explorer or update security software. Regardless of the web browser you use, for these instructions we will first need need to fix this problem so that we can download the utilities we need to remove this infection.

    Please start Internet Explorer, and when the program is open, click on the Tools menu and then select Internet Options as shown in the image below.



    Internet Explorer Tools Menu


  5. You should now be in the Internet Options screen as shown in the image below.



    Internet Options screen



    Now click on the Connections tab as designated by the blue arrow above.

  6. You will now be at the Connections tab as shown by the image below.


    Internet Options connections tab



    Now click on the Lan Settings button as designated by the blue arrow above.

  7. You will now be at the Local Area Network (LAN) settings screen as shown by the image below.



    Proxy Settings screen



    Under the Proxy Server section, please uncheck the checkbox labeled Use a proxy server for your LAN. Then press the OK button to close this screen. Then press the OK button to close the Internet Options screen. Now that you have disabled the proxy server you will be able to browse the web again with Internet Explorer.

  8. Now we must end the processes that belong to Windows Maintenance Guard so that it does not interfere with the cleaning procedure. To do this, please download RKill to your desktop from the following link.

    RKill Download Link - (Download page will open in a new tab or browser window.)

    When at the download page, click on the Download Now button labeled iExplore.exe download link. When you are prompted where to save it, please save it on your desktop.

    If you are unable to connect to the site to download RKill, please go back and do steps 3-6 again and make sure the infection has not reenabled the proxy settings. You may have to do this quite a few times before you can get RKill downloaded. If you still cannot download the RKill program on the infected computer, you should download it to a clean computer and copy it to the infected one via a USB flash drive or CDROM.

  9. Once it is downloaded, double-click on the iExplore.exe icon in order to automatically attempt to stop any processes associated with Windows Maintenance Guard and other Rogue programs. Please be patient while the program looks for various malware programs and ends them. When it has finished, the black window will automatically close and you can continue with the next step. If you get a message that RKill is an infection, do not be concerned. This message is just a fake warning given by Windows Maintenance Guard when it terminates programs that may potentially remove it. If you run into these infections warnings that close RKill, a trick is to leave the warning on the screen and then run RKill again. By not closing the warning, this typically will allow you to bypass the malware trying to protect itself so that RKill can terminate Windows Maintenance Guard . So, please try running RKill until the malware is no longer running. You will then be able to proceed with the rest of the guide. Do not reboot your computer after running RKill as the malware programs will start again.

    If you continue having problems running RKill, you can download the other renamed versions of RKill from the RKill download page. Both of these files are renamed copies of RKill, which you can try instead. Please note that the download page will open in a new browser window or tab.


  10. Now you should download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM, from the following location and save it to your desktop:

    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Download Link (Download page will open in a new window)

    If you are unable to connect to the site to download Malwarebytes', please go back and do steps 3-6 again and make sure the infection has not reenabled the proxy settings.


  11. Once downloaded, close all programs and Windows on your computer, including this one.

  12. Double-click on the icon on your desktop named mbam-setup.exe. This will start the installation of MBAM onto your computer.

  13. When the installation begins, keep following the prompts in order to continue with the installation process. Do not make any changes to default settings and when the program has finished installing, make sure you leave both the Update Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and Launch Malwarebytes Anti-Malware checked. Then click on the Finish button. If MalwareBytes' prompts you to reboot, please do not do so.

  14. MBAM will now automatically start and you will see a message stating that you should update the program before performing a scan. As MBAM will automatically update itself after the install, you can press the OK button to close that box and you will now be at the main program as shown below.


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Screen

  15. On the Scanner tab, make sure the the Perform full scan option is selected and then click on the Scan button to start scanning your computer for Windows Maintenance Guard related files.

  16. MBAM will now start scanning your computer for malware. This process can take quite a while, so we suggest you go and do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan. When MBAM is scanning it will look like the image below.


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Scanning Screen

  17. When the scan is finished a message box will appear as shown in the image below.


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Scan Finished Screen

    You should click on the OK button to close the message box and continue with the Windows Maintenance Guard removal process.

  18. You will now be back at the main Scanner screen. At this point you should click on the Show Results button.

  19. A screen displaying all the malware that the program found will be shown as seen in the image below. Please note that the infections found may be different than what is shown in the image.


    MalwareBytes Scan Results


    You should now click on the Remove Selected button to remove all the listed malware. MBAM will now delete all of the files and registry keys and add them to the programs quarantine. When removing the files, MBAM may require a reboot in order to remove some of them. If it displays a message stating that it needs to reboot, please allow it to do so. Once your computer has rebooted, and you are logged in, please continue with the rest of the steps.

  20. When MBAM has finished removing the malware, it will open the scan log and display it in Notepad. Review the log as desired, and then close the Notepad window.

  21. You can now exit the MBAM program.

  22. As many rogues and other malware are installed through vulnerabilities found 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:

    How to detect vulnerable and out-dated programs using Secunia Personal Software Inspector

 

Your computer should now be free of the Windows Maintenance Guard program. You may want to consider purchasing the PRO version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future, as if you had the real-time protection component, that comes with the paid for version, activated it would not have allowed this infection to install.

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 Maintenance Guard Files:

%AppData%\NPSWF32.dll
%AppData%\Protector-<random 3 chars>.exe
%AppData%\Protector-<random 4 chars>.exe
%AppData%\result.db
%AppData%\1st$0l3th1s.cnf

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 Maintenance Guard Windows Registry Information:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings "WarnOnHTTPSToHTTPRedirect" = 0
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System "DisableRegedit" = 0
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System "DisableRegistryTools" = 0
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System "DisableTaskMgr" = 0
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
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run "Inspector"
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Settings "net" = "2012-6-18_7"
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Settings "UID" = "idhsudrgrf"
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ASProtect
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\Anti-Virus Professional.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\avnt.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\escanv95.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\mbamservice.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\npf40_tw_98_nt_me_2k.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\procexplorerv1.0.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\spoolcv.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\vsmain.exe
... and many more Image File Execution Options entries.

 


 

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.


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