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Strange Firefox Behaviour

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#1 Euphemism


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Posted 26 January 2011 - 01:36 AM

I'm on an HP Pavilion dv7z, the AMD-processor cousin of the dv7t. It's a customized model, but I'm not sure if that makes any difference. It hasn't in the past, when seeking assistance. I use Windows Vista Home Premium with SP1. My primary browser is Mozilla Firefox version I have IE 7 installed, but only use it when absolutely necessary (which is almost never). My primary connection is, unfortunately, dial-up. I have wireless capability which I sometimes use to borrow connectivity from the neighbor (only rarely) and the person who worked on my hard drive recently used it (I have no idea whether the connection he accessed was open or private, but I assume it's his home connection since that's where he had my system).

My hard drive is biting the dust, and very quickly at that. I've had it looked at professionally, and the things done to hopefully-fix the drive only held up for a day and a half before the drive went right back to clicking, grinding, and being its half-dead self. So I have a replacement drive on order that he's going to ghost the data from this one onto... But I'm afraid at this point that he may end up unknowingly ghosting a virus right onto the new drive. So I come to ask about the behaviour I'm experiencing, and ask that you let me know if any of this could be caused by a dying hard drive as well. (He ran MBAM on my system, as it was still installed when I got it back, but the database date is... somewhere near the beginning of 2010. Outdated.)


  • Ever since I got my computer back, I've noticed random, small lags in text input - but only within Internet-connected programs. It's most evident when I'm typing in AIM (which already has a minuscule lag due to dial-up use). In Firefox, it's becoming increasingly common, though. It most often happens when typing in the address bar but also while writing posts on forums or typing into HootSuite (an online Twitter client). Typing into Twitter is like trying to pull teeth. IE is just as abysmal (I used IE when testing one of the other issues to be mentioned and noticed the input lag for text).

    This has happened before, during my computer's infection with the Google redirect over a year ago. It lasted for a day or two after the virus was gone, and I never noticed it again until now. I assumed I'd just gotten used to it over time and needed to re-adjust after being away from my computer for a week. With the following symptoms cropping up now, however, I'm worried that something else is amiss.
  • Yesterday, I uploaded an image to TinyPic. After the upload was complete, I copied the direct link for the image and pasted it into a new tab. I closed the TinyPic tab. After the image was fully loaded, my connection continued to show outbound and inbound activity of the normal rate (not just an insignificant spike), as if I were loading something when I knew I wasn't. I suspected HootSuite or AIM Mail had become stuck, or that AIM itself was attempting to update without permission. I immediately exited the AIM program and put Firefox into offline mode. The inbound/outbound data use continued. (As monitored through RainMeter, which I find is very accurate and has never lied to me about usage.)

    I immediately disconnected from the internet, waited a minute, then reconnected. No more suspicious activity until after I resumed browsing. Throughout my usage for the rest of the night, I noticed that the outbound activity seemed fairly high while loading pages and would randomly spike, albeit to insignificant numbers (.100 or 1.2 kb) for no more than two seconds at a time, when nothing was loading at all. I kept HootSuite, AIM Mail, and AIM off in order to make sure they weren't the causes for the interference.

    When I closed Firefox for the night, immediately upon its closing, outbound and inbound data transfer started as if I were loading an image-heavy page. But nothing was loading at all, as the browser was closed. I saw no suspicious processes in Task Manager (and, over the course of the night, had already looked up the ones I wasn't certain about). After what I think was about two minutes, the outbound/inbound data transfer stopped. I reopened Firefox and closed it again, but was incapable of making the strange incident repeat itself.

    Tonight, there still seems to be enough outbound activity while I'm browsing to make me weary. I don't honestly pay attention that much except when uploading files, so I'm not sure if I'm just being paranoid or if it's significant. But it does make me worry about the possibility of keyloggers/activity trackers or something of that sort.
  • As of last night, my Google results are showing up strangely. If, for example, I search for "test" - through the Firefox search, the "google (keyword)" command in the address bar, or Google's website - the first result, test.com, shows up in the status bar as: http*//www.google.com/url?q=http://www.test.com/&sa=U&ei=Uas_Te_qGcL38Aau9by2BA&ved=0CA8QFjAA&usg=AFQjCNHSLEbQBb-CP8c1wf8uuuWDOih4lQ (I put the asterisk to keep it from becoming a link, just in case). Each time I search, the gibberish at the end changes to a different string of seemingly-random numbers and letters.

    IE does not show any suspicious activity when using Google search. The status bar shows the proper website address without all the added garbage and goes to the proper page. I've had the Google redirect virus before, and the key feature was... Well, it redirected. And it affected both of my browsers.

    In this case, only Firefox is affected and there doesn't seem to be any actual redirect. The page's address starts out as the large string then turns into the real address when the page is loading. No redirect and no clickjacking warnings from NoScript extension. It does, however, stall for a few seconds with a blank white page and only starts showing signs of actually loading once the real address is displayed. So it's bothersome.

That's all for now. Any and all input would be greatly appreciated. I would love to know, especially, if anyone else is having this strange issue with Google results.

I would just go ask for a malware removal/check walkthrough, but I'd like to avoid saving anything to this dying drive (it acts up the worst when significant amounts of data are added and/or changed) unless absolutely necessary.

Edited by Euphemism, 26 January 2011 - 01:39 AM.

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