I left my computer alone for a few minutes last night and came back to find a mess. It’s not like I’ve never left it alone before. I thought I could trust it!
My brother left a comment saying he had a similar problem recently. He downloaded a program called Malwarebytes, and that took care of his problem. So, I tried it. I downloaded the free version, installed, and attempted a scan. My computer shut down before the scan could complete.
Luckily, I had recently downloaded a program called WinUtilities from Giveaway of the Day. It has a tool to manage the startup files on your computer, so I looked through those and found something called prunnet.exe. That was the culprit, as well as some kind of advertising service that had installed itself. I couldn’t just delete the file because it was running, but by disabling it in the startup files and then restarting my computer, I think I kept it from starting. Then I browsed to the file (in Windows/system32) and deleted it. I also selected all other files there that had been created at the same time, and by right-clicking them, I could scan just those files with Malwarebytes. It found the bad files and removed them. I also used Add/Remove Programs to uninstall the advertising ‘service’ that had placed itself on my computer.
Now, I’m crossing my fingers that it all worked. So far so good – no more annoying popups. Still, I’m irritated that people do these kinds of things. Don’t they have better things to do with their lives? Thank you to the creators of Malwarebytes – I’m thankful you chose to use your powers for good. The rest of you – leave my computer alone!