How to Manually Hunt Down and Disable Virus/malware from Your USB Flash Drive

Posted by Oluwajoba Odesanya In , , , , | 1 comments»
Nobody likes it when you insert your USB flash drive into a computer system and it catches a virus. Many people often panic when their USB flash drive catches a virus or they are always so careful how they insert their flash drives in other people's computer systems.
I'm never scared of putting my flash drive in any PC because I know how to see if my flash drive has caught a virus and I also know how to easily remove the virus.
There are different kinds of viruses. I don't know much about them but I know of the following types:

  • Virus programs that attempt to run by themselves
  • Virus programs that hide your files and replace them with a folder-looking icon
  • Virus programs that immediately infect files on the flash and also attempt to infect system files
The most important way to catch a virus on your flash drive is vigilance. When you use your flash on an infected system(whether you know or not) do not be quick to click on files in your flash.

Another good way to catch most viruses is that they install a small autorun.inf file on your flash. This file tells windows that when you double-click on your flash drive icon from My Computer, the program it is pointing to should automatically start. However, many antivirus programs now automatically delete this autorun.inf file as soon as it is detected.

Another way to catch viruses is when you see new folders in your flash drive such as My Pictures, My Music and so on. If you are a Windows 7/Vista user and you are observant, you would notice that these icons are in the Windows XP format.

A safety precaution to avoid activating a virus program on your flash is to not double-click on your flash drive icon. Rather, right-click and select Explore Open

Another very good safety precaution that can really save you the hassle of doing a System Restore or Reinstalling your Operating System due to virus attack is by disabling - Hide Extension of Known File Types options in Windows Explorer. This can save you some trouble because with this option disabled you can quickly see if a malware is disguised as a folder so that you can just delete it because it will have a .exe, .bat or .com extension if it's a virus. How to do this:
  • Click on Tools in Windows Explorer(Windows Vista/7 Users: press alt to reveal Menu Bar)
  • Click Folder Options then navigate to View tab
  • Under the View tab look for the Hide Extension of Known File Types options and disable it
folder properties


How Do I Manually Remove a Virus From My Flash?

To remove a virus from your flash is very easy. Just follow the simple steps below. I always use this system whenever my antivirus program gives me a notification that it has deleted an autorun.inf file on my flash drive.

  • Click on Tools in Windows Explorer
  • Click Folder Options >> View
  • Enable Show Hidden Files, Folders and Drives(This option makes hidden files on your system to be revealed)
properties

  • Next, turn off Hide protected Operating System Files 

hide protected file

  • Click Ok
This reveals all the hidden files including virus files programmed to seem as a system file to windows. Take a look at the snap shot below to get an idea.

hidden


The faint looking files/folders are the hidden/system files.
One thing that might surprise you after doing all these is that you might now see that your actual folder or file has been automatically hidden and a virus has been renamed as your file or folder.
The real extension or format of your file will let you know if it has been replaced with a virus file. Say you just got a picture file from a friend(with an infected PC) and you followed the steps above, in this case, you would see your picture file as IMAGE.exe instead of IMAGE.jpg or IMAGE.png etc

So, this is what I do: when I notice that my flash drive might have been infected, I do the procedure above and then I simply delete all the unwanted files and then remove the Hidden attribute of my original file(s) to make it visible again.

How to modify a file's attributes
  • Right-click on the file and select properties
  • From the General tab, untick hidden

properties


In the event that you mistakenly activated a virus you should immediately do a system restore to revert to an earlier time. 





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