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Windows Security Alerts Icon Suddenly In My System Tray


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#1 kblackshear

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 02:23 AM

Hello,

This is my first post so please forgive my "rookie-ness". I am running Windows XP with service pack 2. I recently downloaded a game for my kids (Sally's Spa) and the instant that the game's installation began, the Windows Security Alerts icon (the red shield with an x in it) appeared, stating that automatic updates were turned off. I have had SP2 for quite some time and I always keep the automatic updates set at "Notify me but don't automatically download or install them", and I never had that icon in my system tray until now.

I looked in task manager and saw two processes that I am certain were never there before: wscntfy.exe and svrhost.exe. I was able to stop svrhost.exe, and remove all instances of it in the registry, however, wscntfy.exe cannot be stopped. I suspect there was some sort of virus or malware riding along with the game, but with my limited knowledge I have not been able to find anything in my windows folders or in the registry that looks suspicious. I am only assuming that something sinister is going on since it's been years since I upgraded to SP2 and never saw this icon. I even tried changing my settings to allow updates to be automatically downloaded and installed but these changes did not reflect within Security Center nor did the icon go away. Can anyone tell me where I should begin to delve into this? Thanks.

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#2 quietman7

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 08:57 AM

svrhost.exe is malware as described here.

wscntfy.exe is the Windows Security Center (introduced in Service Pack 2) and it displays a tray icon indicating the status of updates, virus protection, and firewall.

When Microsoft updates are available (for XP SP2), a small yellow shield (icon) with an exclamation mark ("!") appears in the systray as shown in the first screenshot here. After it loads, you will see a notification ballon that says "Updates are ready for your computer...Click here to install the updates"updates" as shown here.".

The notification balloon also tells you when the new updates have been downloaded and are ready to install. If you click on the balloon another window titled "Automatic Updates" opens and asks "How do you want to install updates?" You are offered the choice of "Express Install (Recommended)" or "Customer Install (Advanced)".

The color of the shield depends on your security settings. Red indicates "Your computer might be at risk" as shown here. You can read more about this feature here.

Also see "Manage Your Computer's Security Settings" and "FAQs about Windows Security Center.

Some types of malware infections will alter your settings from their defaults or from what you may have configured them to do. So after cleaning the infection you will have to reset them.

Lets do some scans to investigate if anything else is lurking on your system.

Please print out and follow these instructions: "How to use SDFix". <- This program is for Windows 2000/XP ONLY.
When using this tool, you must use the Administrator's account or an account with "Administrative rights"
  • Disconnect from the Internet and temporarily disable your anti-virus, script blocking and any real time protection programs before performing a scan.
  • When done, the SDFix report log will open in notepad and automatically be saved in the SDFix folder as Report.txt.
  • If SDFix is unable to run after rebooting from Safe Mode, run SDFix in either Mode, and type F, then press Enter for it to finish the final stage and produce the report.
  • Please copy and paste the contents of Report.txt in your next reply.
  • Be sure to renable you anti-virus and and other security programs before connecting to the Internet.
Please download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and save it to your desktop.
alternate download link 1
alternate download link 2
  • Make sure you are connected to the Internet.
  • Double-click on mbam-setup.exe to install the application.
  • When the installation begins, follow the prompts and do not make any changes to default settings.
  • When installation has finished, make sure you leave both of these checked:
    • Update Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
    • Launch Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
  • Then click Finish.
MBAM will automatically start and you will be asked to update the program before performing a scan.
  • If an update is found, the program will automatically update itself.
  • Press the OK button to close that box and continue.
  • If you encounter any problems while downloading the updates, manually download them from here and just double-click on mbam-rules.exe to install.
On the Scanner tab:
  • Make sure the "Perform Quick Scan" option is selected.
  • Then click on the Scan button.
  • If asked to select the drives to scan, leave all the drives selected and click on the Start Scan button.
  • The scan will begin and "Scan in progress" will show at the top. It may take some time to complete so please be patient.
  • When the scan is finished, a message box will say "The scan completed successfully. Click 'Show Results' to display all objects found".
  • Click OK to close the message box and continue with the removal process.
Back at the main Scanner screen:
  • Click on the Show Results button to see a list of any malware that was found.
  • Make sure that everything is checked, and click Remove Selected.
  • When removal is completed, a log report will open in Notepad.
  • The log is automatically saved and can be viewed by clicking the Logs tab in MBAM.
  • Copy and paste the contents of that report in your next reply and exit MBAM.
Note: If MBAM encounters a file that is difficult to remove, you may be asked to reboot your computer so it can proceed with the disinfection process. Reagardless if prompted to restart the computer or not, please do so immediately. Failure to reboot normally (not into safe mode) will prevent MBAM from removing all the malware.
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#3 kblackshear

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 05:17 PM

Thank you for the help. Here's is the report generated SDfix:



SDFix: Version 1.215
Run by Dad on 2008-08-11 at 17:50

Microsoft Windows XP [Version 5.1.2600]
Running From: C:\sdfix

Checking Services :


Restoring Default Security Values
Restoring Default Hosts File

Rebooting


Checking Files :

No Trojan Files Found






Removing Temp Files

ADS Check :



Final Check :

catchme 0.3.1361.2 W2K/XP/Vista - rootkit/stealth malware detector by Gmer, http://www.gmer.net
Rootkit scan 2008-08-11 17:57:03
Windows 5.1.2600 Service Pack 2 NTFS

scanning hidden processes ...

scanning hidden services & system hive ...

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\d347prt\Cfg\0Jf40]

scanning hidden registry entries ...

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows]
"AppInit_DLLs"=""
"DeviceNotSelectedTimeout"="15"
"GDIProcessHandleQuota"=dword:00002710
"Spooler"="yes"
"swapdisk"=""
"TransmissionRetryTimeout"="90"
"USERProcessHandleQuota"=dword:00002710

scanning hidden files ...

scan completed successfully
hidden processes: 0
hidden services: 0
hidden files: 0


Remaining Services :




Authorized Application Key Export:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\system\currentcontrolset\services\sharedaccess\parameters\firewallpolicy\standardprofile\authorizedapplications\list]
"%windir%\\system32\\sessmgr.exe"="%windir%\\system32\\sessmgr.exe:*:enabled:@xpsp2res.dll,-22019"
"C:\\Program Files\\Common Files\\McAfee\\MNA\\McNASvc.exe"="C:\\Program Files\\Common Files\\McAfee\\MNA\\McNASvc.exe:*:Enabled:McAfee Network Agent"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\system\currentcontrolset\services\sharedaccess\parameters\firewallpolicy\domainprofile\authorizedapplications\list]
"%windir%\\system32\\sessmgr.exe"="%windir%\\system32\\sessmgr.exe:*:enabled:@xpsp2res.dll,-22019"

Remaining Files :



Files with Hidden Attributes :

Sun 10 Aug 2008 20,487 A.SHR --- "C:\Program Files\McAfee\MQC\MRU.bak"
Sun 10 Aug 2008 265 A.SHR --- "C:\Program Files\McAfee\MQC\qcconf.bak"
Sun 10 Aug 2008 0 A.SH. --- "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\DRM\Cache\Indiv01.tmp"
Sat 21 Jun 2003 377,344 A..H. --- "C:\Program Files\Smart Projects\IsoBuster\Help\AHlp.exe"
Sun 10 Aug 2008 0 A..H. --- "C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\Download\4f79e01ce8ee10a7556514a051f797f4\BIT15.tmp"
Sun 10 Aug 2008 0 A..H. --- "C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\Download\66b1d8e81a20b4b541ab3e558f2fd638\BIT16.tmp"

Finished!


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



HERE IS THE REPORT FROM MALWAREBYTES:



Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware 1.24
Database version: 1042
Windows 5.1.2600 Service Pack 2

18:11:29 2008-08-11
mbam-log-8-11-2008 (18-11-29).txt

Scan type: Quick Scan
Objects scanned: 43298
Time elapsed: 5 minute(s), 2 second(s)

Memory Processes Infected: 0
Memory Modules Infected: 0
Registry Keys Infected: 0
Registry Values Infected: 0
Registry Data Items Infected: 0
Folders Infected: 0
Files Infected: 0

Memory Processes Infected:
(No malicious items detected)

Memory Modules Infected:
(No malicious items detected)

Registry Keys Infected:
(No malicious items detected)

Registry Values Infected:
(No malicious items detected)

Registry Data Items Infected:
(No malicious items detected)

Folders Infected:
(No malicious items detected)

Files Infected:
(No malicious items detected)




I guess my machine may not be in such bad shape. Do you think this is just a case where my Security Center settings were changed?

#4 kblackshear

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 07:25 PM

Just wanted to reply and let you know that I did some further research and was able to resolve my Windows Security Center/Automatic Updates issue. I guess that when I installed that game, the svchost.exe malware must have deleted some registry entries so that the Automatic Updates service was not listed in services.msc. I went to a command prompt and entered "regsvr32 wuaueng.dll", and the Automatic Updates services appeared and the red x icon went away and wscntfy.exe is no longer in my list of processes.

Thank you for your help. If you think there is more I should do to ensure my pc is clean, I would definitely welcome it.

#5 quietman7

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 08:57 PM

Now you should Create a New Restore Point to prevent possible reinfection from an old one. Some of the malware you picked up could have been saved in System Restore. Since this is a protected directory your tools cannot access to delete these files, they sometimes can reinfect your system if you accidentally use an old restore point. Setting a new restore point AFTER cleaning your system will help prevent this and enable your computer to "roll-back" to a clean working state.

The easiest and safest way to do this is:
  • Go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools and click "System Restore".
  • Choose the radio button marked "Create a Restore Point" on the first screen then click "Next". Give the R.P. a name, then click "Create". The new point will be stamped with the current date and time. Keep a log of this so you can find it easily should you need to use System Restore.
  • Then use Disk Cleanup to remove all but the most recently created Restore Point.
  • Go to Start > Run and type: Cleanmgr
  • Click "Ok".
  • Click the "More Options" Tab.
  • Click "Clean Up" in the System Restore section to remove all previous restore points except the newly created one.
Tips to protect yourself against malware and reduce the potential for re-infection:
• "Simple and easy ways to keep your computer safe".
• "How did I get infected?, With steps so it does not happen again!".
• "Best Practices - Internet Safety for 2008".
• "Hardening Windows Security - Part 1 & Part 2".
• "IE Recommended Minimal Security Settings" - "How to Secure Your Web Browser".

• Avoid gaming sites, underground web pages, pirated software sites, and peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing programs. They are a security risk which can make your computer susceptible to a smörgåsbord of malware infections, remote attacks, exposure of personal information, and identity theft. Many malicious worms and Trojans spread across P2P file sharing networks, gaming and underground sites. Users visiting such pages may see innocuous-looking banner ads containing code which can trigger pop-up ads and Flash ads that install viruses, Trojans and spyware. Ads are a target for hackers because they offer a stealthy way to distribute malware to a wide range of Internet users. The best way to reduce the risk of infection is to avoid these types of web sites and not use any P2P applications.

Read P2P Software User Advisories and Risks of File-Sharing Technology.
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