Remove CleanThis (Uninstall Guide)

  • March 20, 2011

CleanThis is a fake rogue anti-spyware program that is part of the Fake Microsoft Security Essentials infection. When this infection is installed on your computer it will display a fake Microsoft Security Essentials alert that states that it has detected an Unknown Win32/Trojan on your computer. It will then prompt you to scan your computer, which will start a fake scan of your computer that ultimately states that C:\Program Files\Messenger\msmsgs.exe is infected with Trojan.Horse.Win32.PAV.64.a and that it will install CleanThis to remove the virus. It will then prompts you to press the OK button, which will reboot your computer to finish the installation.

  • CleanThis screen shot
  • CleanThis start screen
  • Fake Microsoft Security Essentials Alert
  • Fake Online Scan
  • Fake infected file alert

When your computer reboots you will be presented with the CleanThis start screen before your normal Windows desktop is shown. It then prompts you to scan your computer, which will state that your computer is infected with numerous infections. It will not, though, allow you to use your computer as the Windows desktop or the Windows task manager will not be allowed to run until you purchase the CleanThis program. When you attempt to run Task Manager it will display the following false alert:

CleanThis
The application taskmgr.exe was launched successfully but was forced to shut down due to security reasons.

This happened because the application was infected by a malicious program which might post a threat for the OS.

It is highly recommended to install the necessary heuristic module and perform a full scan of your computer to exterminate malicious programs from it.

Furthermore, when you try to close the program so you can access your Windows desktop, it will state that "Current settings don't allow unprotected startup. Please check your settings.". As you can see this program is a scam as it is ransoming the proper operation of your computer until you purchase it. It goes without saying that you should not purchase this program for any reason.

This guide will walk you through terminating the CleanThis process and then allowing your Windows Desktop to appear so that you can properly clean the infection. For no reason should you purchase CleanThis, and if you already have, you should contact your credit card company and dispute the charges stating that the program is a computer infection. Finally, to remove this infection and any related malware, please use the removal guide below.

Self Help Guide

This guide contains advanced information, but has been written in such a way so that anyone can follow it. Please ensure your data is backed up before proceeding.

If you are uncomfortable making changes to your computer or following these steps, do not worry! Instead you can get free one-on-one help by asking in the forums.
  1. For the first part of this removal guide you will need to use a different computer than the infected one. This is also a tricky rogue to remove, so please follow the instructions carefully. If you are concerned about whether or not you can do this, do not be, as I have made these instructions easy to follow for people of any computer expertise.

  2. From another computer, please download the reg file from the following locations and save it to an external media such as an external hard drive or a USB flash drive. We will then use the external drive or flash drive to to transfer these files to your infected computer. If you do not own a USB flash drive, you can get one from any local or online computer store for a small price. Some examples of good and cheap ones can be found at Newegg and Best Buy. The files that you should download onto this device are:

    Fix-MSE.reg

    If you do not have a flash drive or removable media that you can use, I will be giving more advanced instructions on how to manually delete the Windows Registry in Step 7. These manual instructions should only be used if you know how to delete entries in the Windows Registry as deleting the wrong keys could make your computer become unusable.

  3. Once you have downloaded the above file and saved to your removable media, you need to plug it or insert it into your infected computer so we can access the file later.

  4. Now you need to reboot your computer. While the computer is starting please being to repeatedly tap the F8 key on your keyboard. This will open up the Advanced Boot Options screen, in Windows 7 or Vista, or the Windows Advanced Options Menu in Windows XP. The screen that you need to get to will look similar to the one below.


    Advanced Boot Options

    At the above screen you will see a variety of options that can be used to boot Windows. Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, highlight the option labeled Safe Mode with Command Prompt. Once it is highlighted, click on the Enter key on your keyboard.

  5. Windows will now start and if you have multiple accounts or a password on your single account, you will be presented with a screen asking you to login to Windows. Please select your account and enter any password that you may have. When done, the Windows Command Prompt will open and you will see a screen similar to the one below.


    Safe Mode With Command Prompt

    The Command Prompt allows you to type commands and then press Enter on your keyboard to execute them. In this Command Prompt window, please type explorer.exe and then press Enter on your keyboard.

  6. The Windows desktop will now appear. When the desktop appears you can then close the Command Prompt window by clicking on the X.

  7. If you copied the Fix-MSE.reg file onto a removable media you can now click on the Windows Start button and then click on the Computer, or My Computer in Windows XP, menu option. A window should open that shows all the drive letters on your computer. Double-click the drive letter associated with the device that has the Fix-MSE.reg that was saved onto it. When the Window opens and you see the Fix-MSE.reg file, double-click on it and allow the data to be merged into the Windows Registry.

    If you did not have a removable media and could not use the Fix-MSE.reg file or decided to manually modify the Windows Registry, click on the Start buton and then click on the Run button. In the Open: field enter regedit.exe and press Enter on your keyboard.

    Safe Mode With Command Prompt

    The Windows Registry Editor, as shown in the image above, will appear. You need to navigate to the following key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon. You do this by expanding the key names in the left pane of the Window till you are at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon as shown by the blue arrow in the image above . Once on that key, click on the Winlogon key and you will see the various values under that key in the right pane of the Window. Right-click on the Shell value and select the Delete option. If it prompts you if you are sure you want to delete the value, please allow it to do so. Once the Shell value is deleted, you can close the Registry Editor program.

  8. You can now reboot your computer to start Windows normally. Once Windows starts and you are logged in, you should be able to see your Windows desktop and the CleanThis should not be started.

  9. Before we continue we should also terminate any other infections that may be related to CleanThis so that it does not interfere with the cleaning procedure. To do this, please download RKill to your desktop from the following link.

    RKill Download Link - (Download page will open in a new tab or browser window.)

    When at the download page, click on the Download Now button labeled iExplore.exe download link. When you are prompted where to save it, please save it on your desktop.

  10. Once it is downloaded, double-click on the iExplore.exe icon in order to automatically attempt to stop any processes associated with CleanThis and other Rogue programs. Please be patient while the program looks for various malware programs and ends them. When it has finished, the black window will automatically close and you can continue with the next step. If you get a message that RKill is an infection, do not be concerned. This message is just a fake warning given by CleanThis when it terminates programs that may potentially remove it. If you run into these infections warnings that close RKill, a trick is to leave the warning on the screen and then run RKill again. By not closing the warning, this typically will allow you to bypass the malware trying to protect itself so that RKill can terminate CleanThis . So, please try running RKill until the malware is no longer running. You will then be able to proceed with the rest of the guide. Do not reboot your computer after running RKill as the malware programs will start again.

    If you continue having problems running RKill, you can download the other renamed versions of RKill from the RKill download page. All of the files listed there are renamed copies of RKill, which you can try instead. Please note that the download page will open in a new browser window or tab.

  11. At this point you should download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM, to scan your computer for any any infections or adware that may be present. Please download Malwarebytes from the following location and save it to your desktop:

    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Download Link (Download page will open in a new window)

  12. Once downloaded, close all programs and Windows on your computer, including this one.

  13. Double-click on the icon on your desktop named mb3-setup-1878.1878-3.0.6.1469.exe. This will start the installation of MBAM onto your computer.

  14. When the installation begins, keep following the prompts in order to continue with the installation process. Do not make any changes to default settings and when the program has finished installing, make sure you leave Launch Malwarebytes Anti-Malware checked. Then click on the Finish button. If MalwareBytes prompts you to reboot, please do not do so.

  15. MBAM will now start and you will be at the main screen as shown below.



    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware


    Please click on the Scan Now button to start the scan. If there is an update available for Malwarebytes it will automatically download and install it before performing the scan.

  16. MBAM will now start scanning your computer for malware. This process can take quite a while, so we suggest you do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.



    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware


  17. When MBAM is finished scanning it will display a screen that displays any malware that it has detected. Please note that the infections found may be different than what is shown in the image below due to the guide being updated for newer versions of MBAM.


    MalwareBytes Scan Results


    You should now click on the Remove Selected button to remove all the seleted malware. MBAM will now delete all of the files and registry keys and add them to the programs quarantine. When removing the files, MBAM may require a reboot in order to remove some of them. If it displays a message stating that it needs to reboot, please allow it to do so. Once your computer has rebooted, and you are logged in, please continue with the rest of the steps.

  18. You can now exit the MBAM program. If Malwarebytes did not prompt you to reboot your computer, please do so that you are back in normal mode.

  19. As many rogues and other malware are installed through vulnerabilities found in out-dated and insecure programs, it is strongly suggested that you use Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs on your computer. A tutorial on how to use Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs can be found here:

    How to detect vulnerable and out-dated programs using Secunia Personal Software Inspector

 

Your computer should now be free of the CleanThis program. If your current anti-virus solution let this infection through, you may want to consider purchasing the PRO version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future.

View Associated CleanThis Files

%UserProfile%\Application Data\completescan %UserProfile%\Application Data\gog.exe %UserProfile%\Application Data\install

File Location Notes:

%UserProfile% refers to the current user's profile folder. By default, this is C:\Documents and Settings\<Current User> for Windows 2000/XP, C:\Users\<Current User> for Windows Vista/7/8, and c:\winnt\profiles\<Current User> for Windows NT.

View Associated CleanThis Registry Information

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentConfiguration\Winlogon\\Shell = %AppData%\gog.exe

This is a self-help guide. Use at your own risk.

BleepingComputer.com can not be held responsible for problems that may occur by using this information. If you would like help with any of these fixes, you can ask for malware removal assistance in our Virus,Trojan,Spyware, and Malware Removal Logs forum.

If you have any questions about this self-help guide then please post those questions in our Am I infected? What do I do? and someone will help you.

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