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Redirects, blocks on security sites and ad pop-ups


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#1 Gus777

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 03:13 AM

Hi,

Many thanks in advance for any help offered here. I'm running Win XP on a desktop computer (AMD) and have contracted some form of malware that blocks (or redirects?) updates to Norton Antivirus, Spybot S&D, Malwarebytes, etc. Windows updates are redirected to google (a ping of update.microsoft.com becomes 72.14.205.100, which, when entered into a browser, is a Google page (or copy?!). In addition to these frustrations, I'm getting pop-up ads from a variety of sources - zedo, webtrends live, fastclick, burst media, ad revolver, ad yield manager, directclick, etc...

I can't say if I first noticed this just before or just after a recent computer rebuild (MB, CPU, RAM, Video), but I've done several fresh re-installs of windows since, taking ever more stringent measures to prevent a re-occurence of this problem - but unsucessfully. Prior to, and between some, installs, I've run full scans with updated (manual updating via another computer & USB stick) Norton Internet Security / Antivirus 2009, Malwarebytes, Spybot Search and Destroy, Ad Aware, MS malicious software remover, Trojan Remover, and none has found anything bar the odd tracking cookie, which I've deleted. Whatever is there is well camouflaged! Interestingly however, following the Norton help dialog, after unsuccessfully running live update, running their DNS poisoning tool followed by an automated updater on the same page, allowed it to update. I still can't update via the usual 'live update' button however.

Though I've taken the computer through to XP SP3 on previous installs, I've done nothing this time bar installing chipset drivers, then Norton Antivirus, then the ethernet drivers. I connect to the internet via an ADSL router - wired to the desktop, wireless for my laptop (vista - no signs of infection). The only other connection to the router is a NAS device - two HDD's (D-link DNS-323). The wireless is running under WEP, and the router has active MAC address filtering.

Prior to this most recent re-install, to reduce the number of supects to what I though would be almost zero!, I disconnected all HDD's in this computer bar the one I've installed the OS on, disconnected the NAS device from the router, shutdown the laptop (which connects to the router wirelessly), booted with a UBCD into a DOS environment, blitzed the MBR on this disk (wrote zeros to it; and the EMBR??), re-started, flashed my BIOS (ASUS M4A78 PRO MB) from DOS with the easyflash ASUS utility (and a BIOS update on CD), then put the Windows XP install CD in, and had it do a full NTFS format (and partitioning, since I wiped the MBR) before installing the OS. Subsequently, as I said, I installed the ASUS chipset drivers, from CD, then Norton, then the ethernet drivers (from the same ASUS CD), and ran the network setup wizard to connect it to the internet via my router. Before it had even finished setting up the 'home network' - or connecting to it rather, I opened up a cmd prompt and pinged Microsoft update - same result - 72.14.205.100! Now, I've not considered that it may be possible for a virus / trojan to get into a router?! Is this possible?, or am I missing some other very cunning hiding place (assuming my official ASUS CD is virus free!!).

Thanks again - I look forward to hearing from anyone that is able to crack this nut.

Cheers!

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#2 quietman7

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 10:40 AM

If the malware is blocking you from downloading the definition updates, then the HOSTS file file may be infected. If that's the case, reboot in "Safe Mode with Networking.

Go to Start > Run and type: %windir%\system32\drivers\etc\
Delete the following file: C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts <- this file - it has as no extension

While in safe mode, launch MBAM and try to update the definition database. DO NOT scan yet. Reboot normally, then perform a new Quick Scan and check all items found for removal. Don't forgot to reboot afterwards. Failure to reboot normally (not into safe mode) will prevent MBAM from removing all the malware. When done, click the Logs tab and copy/paste the contents of the new report in your next reply.

If that does not work, try using this alternate download link.
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#3 Gus777

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 01:10 AM

Thanks for your time quietman - it's much appreciated.

I rebooted into safe mode and deleted the hosts file (last I checked, it appeared normal - since then, I 'immunized' it with spybot S&D, so it had had all that stuff appended). Anyway, deleted that, ran MBAM, and still could not connect to the update server - had the error message: Update failed. Make sure you are connected to the internet,... I opened up IE and checked that my internet connection was working - no problems. The ping to microsoft is still routing to 72.14.205.100 (the google-looking page). One of the other security update sites I tried pinging the other day (can't recall which just now) was translated as local - 127.0.0.1 (if that helps in the analysis).

I had however manually downloaded the 24 Mar 09 MBAM rules update on my laptop, and transferred / updated the desktop, so it's current.

I rebooted normally, and ran the quick scan on MBAM - it picked up something I'd not previously seen in my scans - a 'Hijack.Startmenu' reg key. I had it removed, rebooted and tried to update the program again - same result, & same result from the pings - i.e. can't update windows, security programs, etc. Internet connection itself is still fine. I then ran another MBAM quick scan, & it turned up nothing.

Here's the log after the reg key removal & reboot.
__________________________________________

Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware 1.35
Database version: 1893
Windows 5.1.2600 Service Pack 3

4/04/2009 6:52:36 a.m.
mbam-log-2009-04-04 (06-52-36).txt

Scan type: Quick Scan
Objects scanned: 59963
Time elapsed: 3 minute(s), 43 second(s)

Memory Processes Infected: 0
Memory Modules Infected: 0
Registry Keys Infected: 0
Registry Values Infected: 0
Registry Data Items Infected: 1
Folders Infected: 0
Files Infected: 0

Memory Processes Infected:
(No malicious items detected)

Memory Modules Infected:
(No malicious items detected)

Registry Keys Infected:
(No malicious items detected)

Registry Values Infected:
(No malicious items detected)

Registry Data Items Infected:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\Start_ShowSearch (Hijack.StartMenu) -> Bad: (0) Good: (1) -> Quarantined and deleted successfully.

Folders Infected:
(No malicious items detected)
_________________________________________________

Cheers

Gus.

#4 quietman7

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 06:38 AM

Mbam-rules.exe is not updated daily. Another way to get the most current database definitions is to install MBAM on a clean computer, launch the program, update through MBAM's interface, copy the definitions (rules.ref) to a USB stick or CD and transfer that file to the infected machine. Copy rules.ref to the location indicated for your operating system. If you cannot see the folder, then you may have to Reconfigure Windows to show it.
  • XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Malwarebytes\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
  • Vista: C:\Documents and Settings\Users\All Users\Malwarebytes\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
Your database shows 1893. Last I checked it was 1936.

Please download and scan with Dr.Web CureIt.
Follow the instructions here for performing a scan in "safe mode".
If you cannot boot into safe mode, then perform your scan in normal mode. Be aware, this scan could take a long time to complete.
-- Post the log in your next reply.
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#5 Gus777

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 08:35 AM

I installed and updated MBAM on my Vista laptop; copied the rules.ref file to the desktop, and re-scanned. Still nothing found. (yes, 1936 definitions now, as you said).

I then re-booted into safe mode, and installed Dr Web Cureit, which I'd also downloaded on the laptop and transferred. The quick scan found nothing, and the complete scan (108000 files, 25min) also found nothing. The option to save a log was greyed out, but all the numbers on the stats page were zero - i.e. no infections, mods, suspicious files, etc., and no actions. I ran another MBAM scan while I was in safe mode - still nothing found. Tried again to update Windows, MBAM, Spybot S&D - still blocked / redirected. Internet connection still fine, IE dials up regular web pages as per usual, and after every few new pages or tabs opened I get a pop-up ad (supressed with the built-in pop-up blocker).

Where to from here?

Cheers

Oh - I'm off for a work trip tomorrow night (NZ time) - I fly longhaul for a living. I'll be away from home (and this problem computer) from around 0300 Sat 4th April UTC / GMT till 2000 Mon 6th April UTC. Back on the case that night before heading away down country for a couple of days. Thanks again for your time.

#6 quietman7

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 09:31 AM

Some infections are difficult to remove completely because of their morphing characteristics which allows the malware to regenerate itself. Sometimes there is hidden piece of malware which has not been detected by your security tools that protects malicious files and registry keys (which have been detected) so they cannot be permanently deleted. Disinfection will probably require the use of more powerful tools than we recommend in this forum. Before that can be done you will need you to create and post a DDS/HijackThis log for further investigation.

Please read the pinned topic titled "Preparation Guide For Use Before Posting A Hijackthis Log". If you cannot complete a step, then skip it and continue with the next. In Step 6 there are instructions for downloading and running DDS which will create a Pseudo HJT Report as part of its log.

When you have done that, post your log in the HijackThis Logs and Malware Removal forum, NOT here, for assistance by the HJT Team Experts. A member of the Team will walk you through, step by step, on how to clean your computer. If you post your log back in this thread, the response from the HJT Team will be delayed because your post will have to be moved. This means it will fall in line behind any others posted that same day.

Start a new topic, give it a relevant title and post your log along with a brief description of your problem, a summary of any anti-malware tools you have used and a summary of any steps that you have performed on your own. An expert will analyze your log and reply with instructions advising you what to fix. After doing this, we would appreciate if you post a link to your log back here so we know that your getting help from the HJT Team.

Please be patient. It may take a while to get a response because the HJT Team members are very busy working logs posted before yours. They are volunteers who will help you out as soon as possible. Once you have made your post and are waiting, please DO NOT "bump" your post or make another reply until it has been responded to by a member of the HJT Team. Generally the staff checks the forum for postings that have 0 replies as this makes it easier for them to identify those who have not been helped. If you post another response there will be 1 reply. A team member, looking for a new log to work may assume another HJT Team member is already assisting you and not open the thread to respond.
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#7 Gus777

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 12:13 AM

Alrighty; thanks for your time. I'll hit the next phase when I return home.

Cheers.

Gus

#8 Gus777

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 08:20 AM

Problem found! (well at least the primary problem, if not the whole damn thing). Something had changed my router DNS settings from my manually entered ISP adresses to 85.255.115.61, secondary 85.255.112.60. After changing them back to my ISP's settings, I've been able to connect to windows update - have updated XP; and NIS, etc. I've had a sift through the registry - HKLM/CCS/TCPIP, etc. for entries resembling the above addresses and found nothing. I'll do some further looking for malware detritus, but it seems that everything is once again functional. Odd that my Vista laptop was able to get through to Microsoft (update) & Norton without any problems given that it was connecting through the same router, but there you go..

Gus.

#9 quietman7

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 08:27 AM

Glad to hear that.

If there are no more problems or signs of infection, you should Create a New Restore Point to prevent possible reinfection from an old one. Some of the malware you picked up could have been backed up, renamed and saved in System Restore. Since this is a protected directory your tools cannot access to delete these files, they sometimes can reinfect your system if you accidentally use an old restore point. Setting a new restore point AFTER cleaning your system will help prevent this and enable your computer to "roll-back" to a clean working state.

The easiest and safest way to do this is:
  • Go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools and click "System Restore".
  • Choose the radio button marked "Create a Restore Point" on the first screen then click "Next". Give the R.P. a name, then click "Create". The new point will be stamped with the current date and time. Keep a log of this so you can find it easily should you need to use System Restore.
  • Then use Disk Cleanup to remove all but the most recently created Restore Point.
  • Go to Start > Run and type: Cleanmgr
  • Click "Ok". Disk Cleanup will scan your files for several minutes, then open.
  • Click the "More Options" tab, then click the "Clean up" button under System Restore.
  • Click Ok. You will be prompted with "Are you sure you want to delete all but the most recent restore point?"
  • Click Yes, then click Ok.
  • Click Yes again when prompted with "Are you sure you want to perform these actions?"
  • Disk Cleanup will remove the files and close automatically.
Vista Users can refer to these links: Create a New Restore Point and Disk Cleanup.
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