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Windows Vista de-activated by viruses


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#1 mythirdone

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 03:27 AM

Hi everyone. I have a rather unusual problem. Any advice would be most welcome.

I have an Acer Aspire 9300 running Windows Vista with service pack 1. Vista came pre-installed so I don't have the Vista DVD to perform a recovery or re-installation. The computer does have a recovery partition but that will delete everything on my computer and install Vista to the same configuration as when it was purchased. That means the partitions will be removed, data will be lost and applications will be gone. Sadly, I may have little choice. Fortunately, I am able to use a portable drive through USB to backup the data. That will take time and, of course, I will never be sure that I have backed up all of my data. That is mostly because Microsoft stores data in several different places.

I have several viruses on my laptop. The viruses have de-activated my windows Vista installation. As such, I am unable to boot into normal mode. Each time I attempt to boot into normal mode, I am presented with a Windows activation window. I get three options: Activate by telephone, continue with reduced functionality or install a new key. I have tried to enter my original activation key but I get the error message: "Error: The maximum number of secrets allowed on a single machine has been exceeded". I contacted Microsoft and they gave me a new key but the same error message results.

While getting assistance from Microsoft, I would continue with reduced functionality in order to allow them to do a safety scan of my computer. Sadly, if the scan takes longer than 1 hour, the connection resets. Microsoft technicians are unable to extend the timeout time (why would they engineer such a restriction into their online help system?...ridiculous!) Anyway, they are quite unable to assist. Also, in reduced functionality mode, I was instructed to delete old licensing data and renew it. That did not work either.

So, I am only able to boot into safe mode. Safe mode with networking won't work since it is not activated. While in safe mode, I installed Malwarebytes software (from a USB drive) but I cannot update the virus definitions. Malwarebytes found 23 viruses, adware and spyware and removed them.

I also installed the Microsoft malicious software removal tool (from a USB key). It found the Alureon.BJ Virus and the Alureon.C. It removed the Alureon.BJ but was able to only partially remove the Alureon.C.

I also installed the Combofix tool. It finds rootkit activity and then reboots. Again, I can only boot into safe mode. It never seems to remove the rootkit activity since it cannot boot into normal mode. I have to rerun Combofix again in safe mode but the same thing happens. I can find no help on Combofix's website regarding this issue but I presume it has to be able to boot into normal mode to complete the rootkit removal.

I should mention also that the computer I am using right now also had viruses but Malwarebytes and Combofix sorted it out. Rootkits were present along with the Alureon.C. It seems this computer is healthy again.

I think that once I get the viruses removed, I will be able to reactivate Vista.

So,
1. How can I run Combofix in safe mode (Or can I even do that?)
2. Can I download a virus signatures file onto a USB drive to upgrade malwarebytes and;
3. Can anyone recommend a software package that runs in safe mode that can eliminate rootkits?

Any assistance would be most welcome. Thanks all!

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#2 garmanma

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 05:38 PM

Since you cannot use the Internet, manually download the definition updates from another computer, save them to a flash (usb, pen, thumb, jump) drive or CD and transfer to the infected machine. Then just double-click on mbam-rules.exe to install the update. If you cannot transfer or install from the infected machine, try installing the file directly from the flash drive to your machine.Mbam-rules.exe is not updated daily. Another way to get the most current database definitions is to install MBAM on a clean computer, launch the program, update through MBAM's interface, copy the definitions (rules.ref) to a USB stick or CD and transfer that file to the infected machine. Copy rules.ref to the location indicated for your operating system.
  • XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Malwarebytes\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
  • Vista: C:\Documents and Settings\Users\All Users\Malwarebytes\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
If you cannot see the folder, then you may have to Reconfigure Windows to show it. Then perform a new Quick Scan in normal mode and make sure you reboot afterwards. When done, click the Logs tab and copy/paste the contents of the new report in your next reply.
-------------------------------------------------



SAS,may take a long time to scan
Please download and scan with SUPERAntiSpyware Free
  • Double-click SUPERAntiSypware.exe and use the default settings for installation.
  • An icon will be created on your desktop. Double-click that icon to launch the program.
  • If asked to update the program definitions, click "Yes". If not, update the definitions before scanning by selecting "Check for Updates". (If you encounter any problems while downloading the updates, manually download them from here. Double-click on the hyperlink for Download Installer and save SASDEFINITIONS.EXE to your desktop. Then double-click on SASDEFINITIONS.EXE to install the definitions.)
  • In the Main Menu, click the Preferences... button.
  • Click the "General and Startup" tab, and under Start-up Options, make sure "Start SUPERAntiSpyware when Windows starts" box is unchecked.
  • Click the "Scanning Control" tab, and under Scanner Options, make sure the following are checked (leave all others unchecked):
    • Close browsers before scanning.
    • Scan for tracking cookies.
    • Terminate memory threats before quarantining.
  • Click the "Close" button to leave the control center screen and exit the program.
  • Do not run a scan just yet.
Reboot your computer in "Safe Mode" using the F8 method. To do this, restart your computer and after hearing your computer beep once during startup (but before the Windows icon appears) press the F8 key repeatedly. A menu will appear with several options. Use the arrow keys to navigate and select the option to run Windows in "Safe Mode".

Scan with SUPERAntiSpyware as follows:
  • Launch the program and back on the main screen, under "Scan for Harmful Software" click Scan your computer.
  • On the left, make sure you check C:\Fixed Drive.
  • On the right, under "Complete Scan", choose Perform Complete Scan and click "Next".
  • After the scan is complete, a Scan Summary box will appear with potentially harmful items that were detected. Click "OK".
  • Make sure everything has a checkmark next to it and click "Next".
  • A notification will appear that "Quarantine and Removal is Complete". Click "OK" and then click the "Finish" button to return to the main menu.
  • If asked if you want to reboot, click "Yes" and reboot normally.
  • To retrieve the removal information after reboot, launch SUPERAntispyware again.
    • Click Preferences, then click the Statistics/Logs tab.
    • Under Scanner Logs, double-click SUPERAntiSpyware Scan Log.
    • If there are several logs, click the current dated log and press View log. A text file will open in your default text editor.
    • Please copy and paste the Scan Log results in your next reply.
  • Click Close to exit the program.

Mark
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#3 mythirdone

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 06:31 PM

Thanks for your post, Mark. I have downloaded the software and the update files you have suggested. I am running scans now. I shall report back on the progress/success. Thanks again.

#4 mythirdone

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 06:40 PM

I was able to install the malwarebytes updates from a USB drive in safe mode but I was unable to install the Superantispyware software in safe mode. The windows installer service is not accessible in safe mode. Would you know if there is any rootkit detection software that can run without needing to be installed first?

Thanks.

#5 garmanma

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 08:10 PM

I will have to research further. Try this online scan for the moment

http://support.f-secure.com/enu/home/ols.shtml

Edited by garmanma, 02 May 2009 - 08:13 PM.

Mark
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why won't my laptop work?

Having grandkids is God's way of giving you a 2nd chance because you were too busy working your butt off the 1st time around
Do not send me PMs with problems that should be posted in the forums. Keep it in the forums, so everyone benefits
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