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Windows 7: "Preparing Security Options" Errors

14 Sep 2011   #1
Spector

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit
 
 
"Preparing Security Options" Errors

At least once a month over the past 8 months, the message "Preparing Security Options" appears on my screen. These three words of the message are displayed in large white letters on a Microsoft Blue background.

My question is whether anyone has experienced the same issue, particulalry on a recurring basis; and how did you overcome it without reimaging?

The symptoms I experience during each occurrence include all or some of the following:
  • My system freezes momentarily and my mouse and keyboard are non-responsive.
  • I find my AV client (Microsoft Security Essentials) and/ or my Windows Firewall disabled (both of which had previously been running). My AV found no viruses in real-time or during a full system scan.
  • Different system services that had been running cannot be restarted (i.e. SQL Server).
  • USB device drivers associated with my mobile devices cannot be installed/re-installed.
  • My Windows OS may not restart
  • Windows updates cannot be installed because essential Windows systems files become corrupted.
My system environment is:
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit (build 7600)
  • Microsoft Security Essentials (AV)
  • HP Pavilion, 2 Ghz, 2GB RAM
Thanks in advance for your responses.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Sep 2011   #2
Corrine

Windows 7 & Windows Vista Ultimate
 
 

Hi, Spector. Welcome to Seven Forums.

To determine whether the issue that you are experiencing is caused by one or more system files that are used by Windows, run the System File Checker tool. The System File Checker tool scans system files and replaces incorrect versions of the system files by using the correct versions.

To run the System File Checker tool, follow these steps:
  • Click Start, and then type cmd in the Start Search box.
  • Right-click cmd in the Programs list, and then click Run as administrator.
  • If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type your password or click Continue
  • At the command prompt, type the following line, and then press ENTER:
    sfc /scannow (note the space before the backslash)
  • If errors are found, run the tool again (up to 3 times) with a restart between each run.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Sep 2011   #3
Spector

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit
 
 

Hi Corrine;

Thanks for your suggestion. I ran that System File Utility several times and I'm happy to report that it didn't find any incompatible or corrupted system files. Concerned about a possible virus, I also ran Kasperksy's "tdskiller", followed by a deep scan with my Microsoft Security Essentials client; however, neither AV tool detected any malware. As previously mentioned, dealing with corrupted system files and my system registry has been a recurring problem, despite clean system reimaging and re-installing software bits directly from the original product DVDs.

Please suggest any additional tools/utilities that you think might help me.

Best regards
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Sep 2011   #4
Corrine

Windows 7 & Windows Vista Ultimate
 
 

Hi, Spector.

I'm going to consult with the folks that deal with Crashes and Debugging because in my research I've seen the "Preparing Security Options" related to hardware problems.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Sep 2011   #5
karlsnooks

MS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
 
 

Spector,

Carry out following. When finished, and yes it will take more than 1 hour for sure, attach the log files mentioned in the following to your next post.

PUT SYSTEM SWEEPER ON A USB STICK
System Sweeper, https://connect.microsoft.com/systemsweeper, allows you to start an infected PC and perform an offline scan to identify and remove viruses, rootkits and other advanced malware. System Sweeper is a free standalone, bootable malware and virus remover from Microsoft.
NOTE: A fine tutorial on the System Sweeper is:
How to use the Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper

Download System Sweeper (about 576 kB):
https://connect.microsoft.com/systemsweeper

Insert 256 MB or larger USB stick into a usb port.
Run the downloaded program--mssstool64.exe or mssstool32.exe
Choose the option to install to USB.
Caution: The install program will format the usb stick.

The install program will download about 200 mB more.
After the install is finished, leave the stick in the usb slot.

Run the program you downloaded once again.
This 2nd run, and any subsequent runs, will download the very latest anti-virus definitions (about 60 mB).

To keep System Sweeper up-to-date, simply reinsert the usb stick and run the installation program, mssstool64.exe or mssstool32.exe, again.

The initial, full scan by System Sweeper can easily take several hours, but subsequent quick scans will be shorter.
Remember, your computer is being very thoroughly checked for all types of malware.

The results of System Sweeper will be in:
\Windows\Standalone System Sweeper\Support as one or more files with a LOG extension which can be viewed with Notepad.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Sep 2011   #6
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1
 
 

Do you use any programs for tuning up Windows 7 or repairing the registry?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Sep 2011   #7
MvdB

Windows 7 64b Ultimate
 
 

I would think the HDD is suspect if this is a recurring problem. If up to it, try a good test of the HDD:
See HD Diagnostic
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Sep 2011   #8
Spector

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit
 
 

Thanks to everyone for your responses and recommendations. In addition to your suggestions, advice that I have also gotten outside this forum has drawn me to the following conclusion:
The recurring error, "Preparing Security Solutions" that has been surfacing on several of my systems is NOT a valid Windows 7 error. It is a message that is being generated by a virus that has been cleverly engineered to masquerade as a valid system program. And according to the intelligence that I've gotten, this is the reason that the virus was not detected with the latest anti-malware signatures of AV tools that I've been running (Security Essentials/Kaspersky) in real-time and deep scanning modes. Disabled boot sectors, systems files and system processes have been fatal symptoms of the virus.

This virus has been so cleverly devised that normally effective anti-malware tools like MalwareBytes have not been useful in detecting/removing the problem.

So, rather than further pursuing what appeared to be OS related issues, I am now laser focused on pinpointing this virus, so the appropriate AV signatures can be created.

Thanks again for your suggestions.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Sep 2011   #9
karlsnooks

MS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
 
 

follow my advice in thread post #5.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Oct 2011   #10
zanpaku

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

Hi,

I get the problem once or twice a day, and it's realy ennoying.
I did the system sweeper and here is the log file.

I hope you guys can help me.

2shared - download Support.rar

Thank you,
Zanpaku
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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