I went to one-of-those-sites-I-really-shouldn't-have (i.e., I will never torrent anything ever again. I promise, God.) And I immediately got my ol' buddy with the fake Windows firewall window. I shut everything down and ran Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. It found and nuked it.
Restarted again. No nastiness. Yay!
And then Chrome wouldn't work. Neither would Safari or IE (neither of which I really use.) For some unknown reason, Firefox is fine. (I really do wonder why, and if you know the answer off the top of your head?) (And neither does my Pandora desktop app.)
Nosed about online and found that this is often a side-effect of malware removal, and is a Winsock error. I found something called WinsockFix, and I saw mostly positive reviews--and at least one person warning that it was a "bad" site. Apparently I was in the second group--and immediately got a *different* version of the same sort of thing.
So then I ran HijackThis, and I found the suspect lines of gibberish and deleted those (and only those)--they were the files with names like jahgsjbf.
Then I went to the nice people at Microsoft, who are always there to help us and found their "fix winsock" button, and "let them (not) fix it for me."
Edited by Budapest, 17 May 2010 - 12:12 AM.
Moved from Virus, Trojan, Spyware, and Malware Removal Logs ~BP