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Web Browser Hijacking


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#1 casht

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 10:27 PM

For a month or so now I have had this problem.
The symptoms are:
Google search results - when I click on a result I am taken to a completely unrelated page - often something along the lines of smart.seekers appears in the address bar. If I click on the search same result 3 times however, the third time the problem does not occur.
I cannot download anything from Microsoft - all of the download pages slow down then lock up, so I cannot download updates to fix the problem.
We cannot access our hotmail accounts from the PC in question.
I was hit with a trojan about the same time, and I enlisted the help of a reputable techo who removed numerous trojans/viruses, but he didn't resolve the hijacking problem.
I have had to remove widows defender as I could not use it and it would bomb out when I tried updating definitions. It appeared to be some of the reason behind my PC running slow.
I have also tried NoAdware, however it also will not work properly, it stops after about 150000 files - it produces an error report which mentions active-x.
I am running xp professional with IE7. I have unstalled and reinstalled IE - it did make my PC work a lot faster, but I still have the same problems as mentioned above.
I use nod32 protection along with a couple of anti-spyware programs - I have changed them several times trying to find one that works. (I am using my work PC at present, so I haven't got the other programs in front of me to say what they are)
Would systems restore help?
I think my final option will be to reformat the hard drive?
Can anyone help me on this one?
Thanks

{Mod Edit:Moved to more appropriate forum,out of HJT~~boopme}

Edited by boopme, 06 January 2008 - 11:01 PM.


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#2 Budapest

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 07:35 AM

Do your Nod32 and Anti-Spyware scans come up clean?
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it.

—George Bernard Shaw

#3 casht

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 02:19 PM

All scans are clean

#4 quietman7

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 02:54 PM

Have your tried running your scans in "Safe Mode"?

I have also tried NoAdware

NoAdaware is a program that was previously listed as a rogue product on the Rogue/Suspect Anti-Spyware Products List because of concerns with False positives and the use of aggressive, deceptive advertising including exploitation of the name "Ad-Aware". It has since been delisted but in my opinion it is not a very effective program compared to others with a proven track record like those mentioned in BC's List of Virus & Malware Resources or one of the other Trustworthy Anti-Spyware Products.

You can try using System Restore or System Restore from a command prompt in "Safe Mode" to return to a previous state before your problems began. If that does not help, then proceed as follows:

Please follow the the instructions for using Vundofix in BC's self-help tutorial: "How To Remove Vundo/Winfixer Infection".

After running VundoFix, a text file named vundofix.txt will have automatically been saved to the root of the system drive, usually at C:\vundofix.txt. Please copy & paste the contents of that text file into your next reply.

Please download ATF Cleaner by Atribune & save it to your desktop. DO NOT use yet.
Please download and install SUPERAntiSpyware Free
  • Double-click SUPERAntiSypware.exe and use the default settings for installation.
  • An icon will be created on your desktop. Double-click that icon to launch the program.
  • If asked to update the program definitions, click "Yes". If not, update the definitions before scanning by selecting "Check for Updates". (If you encounter any problems while downloading the updates, manually download them from here and unzip into the program's folder.)
  • Under the "Configuration and Preferences", click the Preferences... button.
  • Click the "General and Startup" tab, and under Start-up Options, make sure "Start SUPERAntiSpyware when Windows starts" box is unchecked.
  • Click the "Scanning Control" tab, and under Scanner Options, make sure the following are checked (leave all others unchecked):
    • Close browsers before scanning.
    • Scan for tracking cookies.
    • Terminate memory threats before quarantining.
  • Click the "Close" button to leave the control center screen and exit the program.
  • Do not run a scan just yet.
Reboot your computer in "Safe Mode" using the F8 method. To do this, restart your computer and after hearing your computer beep once during startup (but before the Windows icon appears) press the F8 key repeatedly. A menu will appear with several options. Use the arrow keys to navigate and select the option to run Windows in "Safe Mode".

Double-click ATF-Cleaner.exe to run the program.
  • Under Main "Select Files to Delete" choose: Select All.
  • Click the Empty Selected button.
  • If you use Firefox browser click Firefox at the top and choose: Select All
  • Click the Empty Selected button.
    If you would like to keep your saved passwords, please click No at the prompt.
  • If you use Opera browser click Opera at the top and choose: Select All
  • Click the Empty Selected button.
    If you would like to keep your saved passwords, please click No at the prompt.
  • Click Exit on the Main menu to close the program.
Note: On Vista, "Windows Temp" is disabled. To empty "Windows Temp" ATF-Cleaner must be "Run as an Administrator".

Scan with SUPERAntiSpyware as follows:
  • Launch the program and back on the main screen, under "Scan for Harmful Software" click Scan your computer.
  • On the left, make sure you check C:\Fixed Drive.
  • On the right, under "Complete Scan", choose Perform Complete Scan and click "Next".
  • After the scan is complete, a Scan Summary box will appear with potentially harmful items that were detected. Click "OK".
  • Make sure everything has a checkmark next to it and click "Next".
  • A notification will appear that "Quarantine and Removal is Complete". Click "OK" and then click the "Finish" button to return to the main menu.
  • If asked if you want to reboot, click "Yes" and reboot normally.
  • To retrieve the removal information after reboot, launch SUPERAntispyware again.
    • Click Preferences, then click the Statistics/Logs tab.
    • Under Scanner Logs, double-click SUPERAntiSpyware Scan Log.
    • If there are several logs, click the current dated log and press View log. A text file will open in your default text editor.
    • Please copy and paste the Scan Log results in your next reply.
  • Click Close to exit the program.

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#5 casht

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 01:49 AM

Hi again.
I have nearly given up trying to solve my problem. I am now using Opera instead of IE7.
The hijacking problem is now regularly showing the web address which includes clicks.smartbiz
Can anyone tell me what this is and how I get rid of it.
I am already running superantispyware, but I haven't yet gone through the instructions listed on the last post.
Thanks

#6 quietman7

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 07:49 AM

Then follow those instructions and report back.
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#7 casht

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 02:12 AM

I have completed the instructions and all scans are clean as follows:
VundoFix V6.7.7

Checking Java version...

Java version is 1.4.2.1
Old versions of java are exploitable and should be removed.

Scan started at 8:06:18 p.m. 14/01/08

Listing files found while scanning....

No infected files were found.


Beginning removal...

UPERAntiSpyware Scan Log
http://www.superantispyware.com

Generated 01/14/2008 at 10:26 PM

Application Version : 3.9.1008

Core Rules Database Version : 3379
Trace Rules Database Version: 1373

Scan type : Complete Scan
Total Scan Time : 00:35:59

Memory items scanned : 177
Memory threats detected : 0
Registry items scanned : 7018
Registry threats detected : 0
File items scanned : 9227
File threats detected : 0

Anyone got anymore thoughts?

#8 quietman7

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 08:43 AM

Your Java is out of date. Older versions have vulnerabilities that malicious sites can use to exploit and infect your system. Please follow these steps to remove older version Java components and update:
  • Java Runtime Environment (JRE) Version 6 and save it to your desktop.
  • Scroll down to where it says "Java Runtime Environment (JRE)6 Update 4...allows end-users to run Java applications".
  • Click the "Download" button to the right.
  • Select your Plattform: "Windows".
  • Select your Language: "English".
  • Read the License Agreement, and then check the box that says: "Accept License Agreement".
  • Click Continue and the page will refresh.
  • Click on the link to download Windows Offline Installation and save the file to your desktop.
  • Close any programs you may have running - especially your web browser.
  • Go to Start > Settings > Control Panel, double-click on Add/Remove Programs and remove all older versions of Java.
  • Check (highlight) any item with Java Runtime Environment (JRE or J2SE) in the name.
  • Click the Remove or Change/Remove button.
  • Repeat as many times as necessary to remove each Java versions.
  • Reboot your computer once all Java components are removed.
  • Then from your desktop double-click on jre-6u4-windows-i586-p.exe to install the newest version.
What issues are you continuing to have? Please be specific.
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#9 casht

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 02:58 AM

I couldn't download the new version of Java directly onto the PC in question. When using Opera I was told that the new version wasn't available for download at that time and under IE the web page was not available.
I managed to download the Java new version via my work PC and a memory stick.
Since my last post I have also downloaded AVG - the AVG scan reported 23 encounters of trojan.DNSChanger.abk. AVG could not however complete a fix.
NOD32 has not detect this problem, but has reported the following:
C:\Documents and Settings\Keith Waldren\Application Data\Sun\Java\Deployment\cache\6.0\22\74018dd6-39fd14b7 »ZIP »OP.class - Java/TrojanDownloader.OpenStream.NAB trojan
This has been deleted and the latest scan is clean.
I still have the following issues:
Web Hijacking - whenever I do a google search through IE and I click on a search result, I am taken to an unrelated site. The back button does not take me back to the search results.
I cannot access any MSN downloads - get the page not available message.
I cannot access hotmail.

#10 quietman7

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 11:25 AM

Since my last post I have also downloaded AVG

Using more that one anti-virus program is not advisable even if your using one of them as a stand-alone on demand scanner. Even when one of them is disabled, it can affect the other. Issues can arise when the active anti-virus detects the non-active one's definitions or quarantined files. Further, dual installation is not always possible because some anti-virus programs will detect the presence of others and may insist they be removed prior to installation.

The primary concern with using more than one anti-virus program is due to conflicts that can arise when both are running in real-time mode simultaneously. Anti-virus software components insert themselves into the operating systems core and using more than one can cause instability, crash your computer, slow performance and waste system resources. When actively running in the background while connected to the Internet, they both may try to update their definition databases at the same time. As the programs compete for resources required to download the necessary files this often can result in sluggish system performance or unresponsive behavior.

Each anti-virus will often interpret the activity of the other as a virus and there is a greater chance of them alerting you to a "False Positive". If one finds a virus and then the other also finds the same virus, both programs will be competing over exclusive rights on dealing with that virus. Each anti-virus will attempt to remove the offending file and quarantine it. If one finds and quarantines the file before the other one does, then you encounter the problem of both wanting to scan each other's zipped or archived files and each reporting the other's quarantined contents. This can lead to a repetitive cycle of endless alerts that continually warn you that a virus has been found when that is not the case.

Anti-virus scanners use virus definitions to check for viruses and these can include a fragment of the virus code which may be recognised by other anti-virus programs as the virus itself. Because of this, most anti-virus programs encrypt their definitions so that they do not trigger a false alarm when scanned by other security programs. However, some anti-virus vendors do not encrypt their definitions and will trigger false alarms if used while another resident anti-virus program is active.

To avoid these problems, use only one anti-virus solution. Deciding which one to remove is your choice. Be aware that you may lose your subscription to that anti-virus program's virus definitions once you uninstall that software.

Please print out and follow the generic instructions for using "SmitfraudFix". Make sure you scroll down to Clean and perform the steps where you reboot in "Safe Mode" and run option #2.
-- If you have downloaded SmitfraudFix previously, please delete that version and download it again as the tool is frequently updated!
-- If the tool fails to launch from the Desktop, please move smitfraudFix.exe to the root of the system drive (usually C:\), and run it from there.
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#11 casht

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 04:40 PM

What software would you recommend that I retain:
I only use Nod32 as my real-time protection.
I deleted AVG as soon as I realised It wasn't working correctly due to possible conflicts.
I also have loaded:
Superantispyware - free addition - on demand scanning only
RegSweep - on demand scanning only
Vundofix
HijackThis
Other recent software that I have had but have deleted were:
Windows defender
NoAdware

#12 quietman7

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 05:04 PM

NOD32 (my personal favorite) along with SAS are good choices. You still should have a real-time anti-malware scanner like Defender. Since you choose to remove it, then replace with one of these free programs:

Spyware Terminator (Vista compatible)
(scroll down and use the link for the version without Web Security Guard
Spyware Doctor Starter Edition (Vista compatible)

I see no mention of a firewall. Free firewalls: (choose and install only one)
Zone Alarm Free Basic Firewall
Outpost Firewall Free
Comodo Free Firewall
Online Armor Free
Ashampoo FireWall Free
Kerio Personal Firewall (available in a full and limited free edition)

Free programs to help prevent spyware, homepage hijacking and increase your browser security:
SpywareGuard - (protects your Browser's Home page)
SpywareBlaster - (blocks known malware sites by adding them to IE's restricted sites zone)
IE-SPYAD - Alternate Tutorial - (blocks even more malware sites by adding them to IE's restricted sites zone)
IE-SPYAD for ZonedOut - (Internet Explorer Security Zone Manager and easier alternative to IE-SPYAD)

Registry cleaners are extremely powerful applications. There are a number of them available and some are more safe than others. Keep in mind that no two registry cleaners work entirely the way. Each vendor uses different criteria as to what constitutes a "bad" entry. One cleaner may find entries on your system that will not cause a problem when removed, another may not find the same entries, and still another may want to remove entries required for a program to work.

The Windows registry is a central repository (database) for storing configuration data, user settings and machine-dependent settings, and options for the operating system. It contains information and settings for all hardware, software, users, and preferences. Whenever a user makes changes to settings, file associations, system policies, or installed software, the changes are reflected and stored in this repository. The registry is a crucial component because it is where Windows "remembers" all this information, how it works together, how Windows boots the system and what files it uses when it does. The registry is also a vulnerable subsystem, in that relatively small changes done incorrectly can render the system unbootable.

The usefulness of cleaning the registry is highly overrated and can be dangerous. In most cases, using a cleaner to remove obsolete, invalid, and erroneous entries does not affect system performance but it can result in "unpredictable results". Unless you have a particular problem that requires a registry edit to correct it, I would suggest you leave the registry alone. Using registry cleaning tools unnecessarily or incorrectly can have disastrous effects on your operating system such as preventing it from ever starting again. For routine use by those not familiar with the registry, the benefits to your computer are negligible while the potential risks are great.
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