I wanted to remove a probably malicious executable, but instead inadvertently double-clicked on it while using an account with administrative privileges. Nothing visible happened during a few seconds, then the executable removed itself (something a legitimate executable wouldn't probably do).

My next steps were:

  • Ensuring Avast definitions are up to date.
  • Disconnecting the machine from LAN to avoid affecting other machines.
  • Doing a full scan with Avast; this revealed no viruses.
  • Checking for suspicious entries with Sysinternals' Autoruns: I don't see anything wrong there.
  • Trying to run Sysinternals' RootkitRevealer, but it won't run on Windows 8.
  • Runing Sophos Anti-Rootkit and Kaspersky TDSSKiller. No rootkits found (Sophos Anti-Rootkit found a bunch of hidden registry keys and hidden files, but those are likely to be legitimate files).
  • Checking services.msc; given the number of services, it's difficult to check if all are legit.
  • Running sfc /scannow. Nothing wrong there: "Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations."
  • Watching resources usage for a few minutes. Looks like there is nothing exceptional either.
  • Checking the list of Chrome extensions. Nothing wrong there. Internet Explorer is not installed, so nothing to check there.

It looks like the PC wasn't infected, but I'm still scared to reconnect it to company domain. I would like to avoid reinstalling Windows, since it would annoy a lot the person using the concerned machine.

What should I try next?

  • 3
    I highly recommend scanning with a Rescue Disk, check this answer security.stackexchange.com/questions/66949/…
    – Ulkoma
    Oct 13, 2014 at 17:32
  • @Ulkoma: in the question you linked, the person can't install an antivirus. Would a rescue disk have a benefit in my case where I already have an antivirus? Oct 13, 2014 at 18:35
  • 2
    Yes, the biggest advantage of using a rescue disk is scanning your system while it's inactive, the virus can't hide itself when you are scanning an inactive system disk
    – Ulkoma
    Oct 13, 2014 at 18:55
  • @Ulkoma: got it. Thank you, I'll do such scan as well. Oct 13, 2014 at 19:43
  • 2
    If you haven't done any write operation, it may still be possible to recover the deleted file to analyse what it does. Further, you might want to check the recently accessed and modified time of all your files to look for any changes. If egress logging is done, you can also check for any data ex-filtration to suspicious IP address. Oct 14, 2014 at 10:23

2 Answers 2


All the steps you have taken are valid steps for malware-removal.

I suggest, to be 100% sure, you download and use (via a USB is good enough) the program Malwarebytes (the free version is extremely powerful, the "full" version only adds "24/7" protection if booted).

An other program that is handy to have in possession, and use in this case, is our old-school Hitman Pro, a really powerful "Second Opinion" program that is included in a lot of Rescue/boot discs (think of Hiren's Boot Disc as example).

If all those lights show green, I wouldn't worry too much about it, of course, whether or not a PC is infected is always a question, there are always chances you are infected with malware that escapes software, that's the reason why you should always scan/remove with more than one program!


All right, if you're on Windows 8, and if you have UAC enabled, you have good chances to kick the bastard out manually.

From what you're saying, if you have UAC enabled, the virus didn't get admin rights. In that case, looking for rootkits and out-of-place services is not very useful (though if you've got as much services running as you say, mind, some of them might need to be cleaned out, but that's not important).

What did the virus do if it didn't have admin rights? Well, the answer is obvious - write itself to autostart with your user account!

The most usual way to do this is creating a reg key in HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run (sometimes HKU\.Default\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run or Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce in HKCU or HKU\.Default if you're dealing with an idiot). There isn't usually that much keys in there, you shouldn't have much trouble finding the nastie.

If you're dealing with an exceptionally brilliant kind of a malware author, take a look at C:\Users\<Your user name>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup (or just hit shell:startup in Run). That'll take you to the Startup folder.

Another nice place to look would be (don't laugh, it works) the Autostart tab in Task Manager. Also, in the task manager, go through the list of all running processes - chances are very, very high your virus is in the list.

If you can get the original file, I bet many people here (myself included) can take a look and say where did it set itself up for autostarting.

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