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Removal of Antivirus System PRO and associated malware

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While recently attempting to download some freeware (in retrospect, a bad idea) ... I accidentally opened an executable that appeared to do nothing. However, within 24 hours, my computer was overrun by Internet Explorer pop-ups and, all of a sudden, Antivirus System PRO showed up out of nowhere.

The first thing I tried was to use my Symantec AntiVirus to simply scan and see what I could see. However, upon trying to open it, I received a bogus "Security Warning" telling me that the "Application cannot be executed. The file vpc32.exe is infected. Do you want to activate your antivirus software now?" Well, that was what I was trying to do...

My next step was to open the Task Manager and see if I could end any processes that didn't belong. However, the same message appeared, telling me that taskmgr.exe is infected, etc., and it would not open.

I looked online for manual instructions to removing Antivirus System PRO, and searched for the characteristic files, but could not find any of them. Finally, my search led me here, to another thread about an inability to open executables due to the presence of this phony software. It recommended the use of a file called The_Comedian.exe. I downloaded this file and attempted to run it. It showed up for about a second (within a DOS command prompt), and then was promptly closed, and the fake error showed up again saying that it couldn't be run.

I have absolutely no idea how to get rid of this thing, and I would really appreciate some help. No executable file is working, other than those currently open. Obviously, my computer isn't particularly useful without the ability to access anything.

Thanks in advance,

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