This is my first post on BleepingComputer, so if this is inappropriate, please let me know. I've recently come across a very resilient virus (I use that term EXTREMELY lightly...because I have no idea what this actually is...) that has entirely shut down my computer.
My machine is a custom built desktop with a quad core AMD processor, 16gb of RAM, a RADEON 6670 (I think), a 120gb SSD for the OS (Win7 Home Premium), a 1TB Secondary Drive for files and programs that I don't need to bring up that quickly, and a 1TB external harddrive that has a boatload of old stuff on it.
Here are the symptoms (that I've found so far):
- Unable to access windows explorer filesystem due to permissions
- Unable to access control panel - Antivirus (MSE) turned off...can't turn it back on
- Original "infection" (prior to reformatting) STILL in affect during safe mode boot
- Windows Defender disabled
- Background changed to black, and the toolbar icons were removed/moved/deleted (white boxes that didn't work).
What I've done so far:
1. First thing first...I let it sit for a while...powered on like an idiot...because I thought the problem was a windows authentication issue (even though this is genuine windows 7) thinking I would bring it up with Windows when I had a chance.
2. Then I ran a couple scans with MalwareBytes. I found nothing.
3. Decided instead of dealing with this any longer, since it seemed to have a pretty good hold on my machine...that I would just reformat. Prior to reformatting from CD, I disconnected my secondary and external drives, in case they were also 'infected'.
4. Reformatting went fine, of course, and I proceeded to boot into safe mode and scan the secondary drive with both MSE and MalwareBytes. Nothing was found.
5. Then, out of stupidity and forgetfulness, I booted into standard mode and scanned the External drive with both MSE and MalwareBytes. Nothing was found.
6. Then, satisfied that I had vanquished the beast, I thought about what kind of bitcoin mining I was going to do, and shutdown my computer.
7. Upon booting back up...it was BACK. From the ashes. I had done nothing that would bring back the same issue. I hadn't even installed the same programs that I had previously.
8. I immediately booted into safe mode and scanned all drives...this time after doing further research and finding that I MAY have picked up some hijackware (even though I haven't seen any "FBI" message or the like).
This time I scanned with:
- Microsoft Safety Security Scanner
- Hitman Pro (which seems useless unless you pay the $25 they want)
- MalwareBytes Standard AND RootKit Beta
- Win7 Malicious Software Removal Tool
- Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE)
ALL of the above security scanners found NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
9. The only difference between current iteration and the first iteration is that the problem is gone when in safe mode. I'm guessing it's because I caught it fast enough this time.
I am now speaking to you, pleading for advice, from the safety of safe mode (with networking). I'm this close to going through, by hand, every file of the 500+gb stored on my external drive with a fine tooth comb and deleting anything I don't absolutely need to keep.
Has anyone seen anything like this before, and what steps did you take to rid yourself of the problem? I'm not looking to salvage my windows installation. I would merely like to be able to separate my stored data from this malicious software, so I can reformat and be on my business. Any suggestions?
Thank You Brilliant minds of BleepingComputer, I'm at my wits end...