In approximately the last 24 hours, I have found that Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 will close when I attempt to go to certain websites. The websites involved are not inherently suspicious--for example, in many cases, they are government or university job sites that I have visited regularly for many months if not longer without any problems. I installed Mozilla Firefox as a check, and the problem does NOT occur with Firefox.
Also in the last 48 hours or so, I have noticed a few, very brief messages, lasting only a split-second, in the lower right corner of my screen, near the clock, that appear to be malware messages (stating, more or less, "Warning your computer may be infected with a virus . . . ," etc.).
Microsoft Word (2003) is also running slow in the last 24 hours.
Also, when I run rkill.exe, after it finishes, the command line dialogue box closes, and then all icons and other information on my desktop (taskbar, etc.) disappear and never return, so I have no choice but to try to restart my computer. However, when trying to do this using CTRL+ALT+DEL and the Restart option, the computer only reaches the point where the screen shows "Windows is shutting down..." but never completes shutting down. Aside from the unusual situation where I try to use rkill, I AM otherwise SOMETIMES able to restart without the computer freezing in the process. Sometimes, however, even after just restarting the computer, logging, and then going to Start and Restart (or Shutdown), will lead to the computer freezing at the same place (at the "Windows is shutting down..." screen).
Also, I find that when I start the computer using the Microsoft Recovery Console, I am now receiving a message that states that the following file is missing or corrupt: <Windows root>\system32\hal.dll. "Please re-install a copy of the above file." I do not understand why that file is corrupt or how it could have gotten corrupted.
I have tried to keep this newish laptop pretty "clean," including trying to avoid any questionable internet sites, and not loading any weird software. Nonetheless, something weird seems to be going on.
I am humbly asking if someone at bleepingcomputer could help me run through some basic checks (whether that means rkill, kaspersky, TDSSKiller, ComboFix, OTL, DDS, regquery, or anything else) so I can get some idea of whether my computer is, in fact, infected; and, if so, how to get it uninfected.
Thank you very much in advance for your assistance.
Edited by WinXP-SP3User, 09 July 2010 - 11:36 PM.