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How do I safely back-up files after ZeroAccess rootkit infection?


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#1 LFBleeping

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:51 PM

New member here - been reading lots of things on this site the past few days; it's terrific.

I believe my laptop (Vista OS, running McAfee) has picked up the ZeroAccess rootkit trojan. (More info below.) I see people have had success getting help here to remove this nasty bugger from their machines, but out of an abundance of caution, my preference is to either (1) wipe/reformat my laptop, reinstall the OS, and start fresh; or (2) get a new laptop (this one's five years old, so I'm probably due anyway).

Here's my main question: I've just bought an external drive to back up my personal files (Office docs, photos, music, etc.) before either doing the wipe or buying a new machine, so I can load these files back onto the clean/new machine when I'm ready. Is there any danger of the rootkit "sticking" to these files and making its way onto the clean/new computer? Or am I safe as long as I don't include any .exe/system files, etc. among what I'm backing up? Should I scan the backed-up files on the external drive before transferring them back to the clean/new laptop, and if so, what's the best way to do that?

Many thanks in advance for any help. Now here's the background on how I picked up the ZeroAccess rootkit, in case it's helpful:

I idiotically clicked on what pretended to be an Adobe Flash update -- even when part of my interior B.S. detector KNEW it was phony. Stupid is as stupid does... argh.

* Soon after making the fateful click on the trojan, I started getting numerous McAfee trojan removal popups (sometimes as often as every few seconds) saying something like "Trojan detected/removed, no further action required." Under "more," it listed ZeroAccess as the culprit.

* I ran a full McAfee scan, which detected & quarantined 2 items

* Then I downloaded and ran the McAfee rootkit remover -- it found nothing

* Then I downloaded Malawarebytes, ran the quick scan, which detected and removed two items, and then rebooted

* Alas, after reboot I still kept getting the same McAfee trojan popups. However, the rest of the machine seemed to be running normally -- I wasn't getting redirected to any crazy websites, etc. But since then I've kept the laptop off as a precaution.

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#2 boopme

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 03:57 PM

Welcome!!

Only back up your important documents, personal data files, photos to a CD or DVD drive, not a flash drive or external hard drive as they may become compromised in the process. The safest practice is not to backup any executable files (*.exe), screensavers (*.scr), autorun (.ini) or script files (.php, .asp, .htm, .html, .xml ) files because they may be infected by malware. Avoid backing up compressed files (.zip, .cab, .rar) that have executables inside them as some types of malware can penetrate compressed files and infect the .exe files within them. Other types of malware may even disguise itself by hiding a file extension or adding to the existing extension as shown here (click Figure 1 to enlarge) so be sure you look closely at the full file name. If you cannot see the file extension, you may need to reconfigure Windows to show file name extensions. Then make sure you scan the backed up data with your anti-virus prior to to copying it back to your hard drive.

If your CD/DVD drive is unusable, another word of caution if you are considering backing up to an external usb hard drive as your only alternative. External drives are more susceptible to infection and can become compromised in the process of backing up data. I'm not saying you should not try using such devices but I want to make you aware of all your options and associated risks so you can make an informed decision if its worth that risk.Again, do not back up any files with the following file extensions: exe, .scr, .ini, .htm, .html, .php, .asp, .xml, .zip, .rar, .cab as they may be infected.

If you're not sure how to reformat or need help with reformatting, please review:These links include step-by-step instructions with screenshots:Vista users can refer to these instructions:Don't forget you will have to go to Microsoft Update and apply all Windows security patches after reformatting.

Note: If you're using an IBM, Sony, HP, Compaq or Dell machine, you may not have an original XP CD Disk. By policy Microsoft no longer allows OEM manufactures to include the original Windows XP CD-ROM on computers sold with Windows preinstalled. Instead, most computers manufactured and sold by OEM vendors come with a vendor-specific Recovery Disk or Recovery Partition for performing a clean "factory restore" that will reformat your hard drive, remove all data and restore the computer to the state it was in when you first purchased it. See Technology Advisory Recovery Media. If the recovery partition has become infected, you will need to contact the manufacturer, explain what happened and ask them to send full recovery disks to use instead..

If you need additional assistance with reformatting or partitioning, you can start a new topic in the Operating Systems Subforums forum. Credit quietman7
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#3 LFBleeping

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 09:25 AM

Thank you sir -- I appreciate the thorough advice. Backing up on CDs will be more time-consuming, but I'd rather be safe than sorry! (Which is also why I'd rather wipe/reinstall or get a new machine rather than try to disinfect.)

Re: the Recovery Partition (which is what I have) -- how can I know if that's infected?

Thanks again.

#4 boopme

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 04:00 PM

It is highly unlikely that this virus infected the recovery partition.
You can run this first.


Please download aswMBR ( 511KB ) to your desktop.
  • Double click the aswMBR.exe icon to run it
  • Click the Scan button to start the scan
  • On completion of the scan, click the save log button, save it to your desktop and post it in your next reply.

Edited by boopme, 14 June 2012 - 07:40 PM.

How do I get help? Who is helping me?For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear....Become a BleepingComputer fan: Facebook

#5 LFBleeping

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 05:40 PM

OK, thanks again.

#6 boopme

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 07:43 PM

You're welcome. When you have completed all. Ask in the operating forum up top on how to make an image. It is actually better than the recovery console for reinstalling.

Edited by boopme, 15 June 2012 - 08:15 PM.

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#7 powdork

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 12:03 AM

I also need to back up my files to wipe the disc after being hit with zeroaccess. but as a web designer much of what is essential to back up is part of the bad files list. is there a safe way to back up those files? or should i just save them all to separate discs and mark them as unsafe. and would continuuing to upload my work risk putting something on my sites that would spread the problem to my users or clients users?

#8 boopme

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 12:29 PM

Save them and then scan the disks with aswMBR and an antivirus to see if thise files are safe.
How do I get help? Who is helping me?For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear....Become a BleepingComputer fan: Facebook




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