How to get rid of Live Messenger Viruses and Trojans

Viruses are spreading through instant messaging like wildfire. Look out for the tell-tale signs and avoid this new threat.

A virus (© PA Photos)

In recent years instant messaging has become a popular platform for increasing the spread of viruses... viruses usually disguised as spam.

If the popularity of my blog post on Messenger woes is anything to go by this is already a hot topic, and one which doesn't want to go away!
How do they spread?

Messenger viruses come in various guises, perhaps the most common being those infuriating 'I put those photos on [website url], check them out!'. If you're looking for photos you'll be left disappointed, you'll feel even worse after said website steals your details and makes off into the night!

Others manifest themselves solely as a link and take you to a site where you are prompted for your username and password.

Due to the nature of Messenger viruses, once infected you will inevitably (but unknowingly) contribute towards the growth and spread of the demon seed. Once at this stage nobody on your contact list is safe.

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What are the symptoms?
All viruses will compromise the smooth-running of your computer; programs will take longer to load, your mouse cursor will start behaving erratically, you will find yourself unable to open 'My Computer' and associated folders.

Your internet connection may grind to a halt as the virus tries to replicate through it and you might also experience a surge in internet pop-up windows. What's more, your friends will be quick to yell should you pass on any dodgy links.

Some Messenger viruses will prompt you for your personal data

So what can we do about this growing threat? Before we begin make sure your software is up-to-date; so install the latest version of Live Messenger.

You can get the lowdown on all the new features in this handy guide to Live Messenger beta.

Industry pundits advise us to backup our computers before installing any new software.

If you have the time (and hard disk space) fire-up 'System Restore' from the Start menu and make a cup of tea.

A few ground-rules; get out of the habit of automatically clicking every link you're sent. Ensure that your contact really sent it themselves and get them to send it again.

Steer clear of visiting websites which claim to 'See who's blocked you on Messenger' or anywhere which mentions 'Messenger passwords' in the same sentence. You're just asking for trouble, no?

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Removing the virus

Suspect an infected machine? Grab a Windows Live OneCare 90 day trial and run a scan. You should also read the guide to installing Messenger's OneCare safety scanner while you're at it.

There are literally thousands of viruses out there, but on Messenger one or two are more prevalent than others.

Close down your Live Messenger.

On the 'Start' menu select 'Run' to open the dialog box.

We're going to start a program called 'msconfig', type this into the box.

Click the 'Startup' tab. This will show you a long list of software that loads at startup.

This particular strain of virus is disguised as 'xxxsvc.exe'. If present, uncheck the box next to this executable.

Restart your computer when prompted.

Binary code: the building blocks of the computer virus (© Joerg Sarbach, PA Photos)

Unable to sign into Messenger?

For those of you familiar with the following message:

'Signing into MSN messenger failed because the service is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later. 800b0001' - Help is at hand in the form of a few quick registry edits.

On the 'Start' menu select 'Run' to open the dialog box.

Type 'cmd' into the box to open the MS-DOS command-line.

Next, we're going to re-register a number of files which (over time) have probably become corrupted. Enter the following and hit the 'return' key after each.

regsvr32 Mssip32.dll
regsvr32 Softpub.dll
regsvr32 Initpki.dll

For more info on similar edits, head on over to the blog where I'll run through a few more.

If all else fails

Remove Windows Live Messenger, reboot your computer and retry Messenger installation. True, it might come across as a cop-out but some of the crudest solutions are the better ones.

Just make sure to always remove installations through Windows 'Add/Remove Programs' in the Control Panel.

The Windows Live Channel doesn't take any responsibility for damages to your computer or registry. If you don't feel confident carrying out these steps yourself, seek help from an expert.

Get your Messenger problems solved on the blog
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MSN Tech: The worst computer viruses