First off, I'm a total noob, so I apologize in advance for my total lack of knowledge. I'm comfortable with a lot of jargon but in terms of security applications and such, I'm completely inexperienced, so please, do not be afraid to treat me like your grandma who just got on the internet, even though I'd consider myself savvier than that. I'll let you know if I've tried what you've suggested, but please do not assume so. Thanks!
Okay, so here's the deal... for a couple of months now, randomly, and often, links will redirect to places other than their target. I'm not frequenting strange sites or "bad" sites like porno or warez or something, so that shouldn't be an issue. However, places like hulu.com or something equally typically harmless, even clicking on the "home page" logo (their name, top-left) will freeze that site, and pop up a new tab with a new, undesired page.
Other times, I'll click a link, say trying to open a Wired.com article or something equally harmless, and that page, instead of going forward to the article, will pause for a second at google-analytics.com, or say, results5.google.com and then redirect to another page entirely. Usually the resulting page is pretty harmless itself (seemingly). It seems like a simple hijack to boost page rank or something to me, but who knows?
Also, sites like Vimeo, for example, will load only briefly and then blink out, constantly loading. Nothing ever resolves, nor do I get any imagery whatsoever after that first blink.
Anyway, I have MSE installed and have for some time (since before the issue), it is up to date, and I run scans frequently. Nothing serious has come up anytime lately. I also have run MBAM scans (full and quick) with current updates and have had zero causes for alarm there.
I installed Hijack This, but haven't really done anything further than a scan, since I'm not experienced and know enough that I don't want to bork my computer removing something I shouldn't.
Running Windows Vista Home Premium, 64-bit (SP2)
Wired Internet connection, (although it's through a wireless router that I use for my Wii as well, which is running wirelessly)
Typically use Google Chrome 7.0.517.41 beta, but also Firefox 3.6.10 (3.6.11 is currently downloading... I don't use it much.)
Microsoft Security Essentials (Current and scans as clean)
MalwareBytes Anti-Malware (Current and scans as clean)
HiJackThis (current, but again, just scanned with no idea as to what the results are really telling me)
Looking around here earlier, I saw some mention of my HOSTS file. I've found it, and while I can view it in Notepad, apparently I can't modify or save it in any way. It's protected somehow. Which is fishy. The only entries on it are as follows:
I don't know if that means anything, but since it's short and sweet, and since it's locked from my editing, which seemed strange, I thought I'd post it.
Let me know if there's anything else I can do that would help, or if I'm doing something wrong.
(Oh, and for the record, I am pretty sure I'm posting something fairly original... I did search and while I found variants of this situation, most posters' issues seemed to originate only from search results links, or resulted in antivirus or antimalware sites or programs to be blocked, which isn't the case for me...I did try to be thorough, and I don't want to waste anyone's time!)
Additional note that may be of interest:
All ads that get served to me seem to be from CLICKSOR. It's annoying. Anyway, that's a fairly new occurrence. Also, sometimes I get ad audio without a visible ad which I can block. Don't know if it's related, but regardless, would love to kill that system-wide too. Doesn't seem to matter what site I visit...it's always CLICKSOR ads.
As an example, which I clicked "Publish Post" here, just now, I had a new tab pop up that directed to: http://www.1-click-fix.com/?hop=brite25
Edited by jgweed, 22 October 2010 - 07:52 AM.
added example from reply to post.jgw