I am trying to clean up a malware infested Windows XP (SP3) computer for a co-worker. It has the Zentom Security Guard program on it which was regularly displaying warnings in the system tray with a yellow triangle/exclamation point icon, and various pop-up windows with either "Error" messages or fake program windows or a fake Windows Update window. I followed the instructions here:
Unfortunately, this did not work. The RKill program, no matter which named version I use, did kill the warnings/pop-ups but only temporarily. The warnings/pop-ups would start again within 30 seconds of RKill's completion. I continued anyway and installed Malwarebytes. The full scan did find quite a few issues which it cleaned up, but after a reboot the same malware behavior continued.
Next, I tried Combofix. This managed to clean up even more files, but the malware appeared to be interfering with it. During Combofix's run there were constant error messages about applications being forced to stop and other strange error messages, all of which I am 99% sure were Combofix related activities. Once Combofix completed, the fake program windows/Windows Update stopped, but the pop-up errors and system tray warnings continue.
Since then I have tried Malwarebytes, Combofix, and SuperAntiSpyware (all fully updated) in both Safe Mode and regular mode. Every time the software detects issues and cleans them up, but the malware behavior continues both before and after the reboot. The next scan finds the same issues but with different file names. RKill continues to be ineffective. I've run out of ideas.
Note that Task Manager can be started, but it closes/disappears after a few seconds. Also, the malware behavior is present both after a regular start up and in Safe Mode. I do not believe any of the three scanners found anything amiss in memory, despite the fact that there is typically a pop-up "Error" on the screen and a system tray warning active during its scans. The system tray icon immediately disappears by simply rolling the mouse over it.
Spyware protection is disabled. Your personal data is at high risk of being stolen and misused.
System warning (exclamation point icon)
Keep your computer safe from viruses and malicious programs that can slow down or break your system
Surfing without protection tool installed may cause spyware intrusion through security holes in the Web browser or in other software.
Your computer is infected with Spyware! Detected malicious programs can damage your computer and compromise your privacy. It is strongly recommended to remove them immediately.
Internal conflict alert! Internal software conflict detected! Some application tries to get access to the system kernel.... (there is more, but I did not write it all down)
Any assistance is appreciated.