Microsoft has released a beta version of a new tool that can help victims of malware attacks recover from ugly infections, even if they don’t have the ability to reach the Internet. The Windows Defender Offline tool enables users to clean their systems of malware from a CD or other removable media.
In some ways, the new tool is a throwback to the bygone days of computing and viruses when the malware universe was small enough that all of the definitions to combat it could fit on a floppy disk. Back then, users would often have a rescue disk that could help them boot their PC in the event of a messy malware infestation. Microsoft’s Windows Defender Offline uses the same idea, by enabling users to download a large definition file and then transfer it to a USB drive, CD or other portable medium.
There are some pernicious classes of malware, including some rootkits and ransomware programs, that will prevent users from accessing the Internet or doing any kind of normal operations on their PCs. In those cases, it can be difficult or impossible for a user to run a system scan with installed antimalware applications or run a scan from the Web.
A user who finds herself in such a situation would be able to boot her PC from the CD or USB driver containing the offline tool and then proceed with the malware cleaning.
“Windows Defender Offline Beta can help remove such hard to find malicious and potentially unwanted programs using definitions that recognize threats. Definitions are files that provide an encyclopedia of potential software threats. Because new threats appear daily, it’s important to always have the most up-to-date definitions installed in Windows Defender Offline Beta. Armed with definition files, Windows Defender Offline Beta can detect malicious and potentially unwanted software, and then notify you of the risks,” Microsoft’s documentation for the Windows Defender Offline tool says.
The new tool is currently in beta form, but it’s available for download from Microsoft’s site now.