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Opening Browser Always Displays Puzzling Error

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#1 boweasel


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Posted 04 April 2014 - 05:46 PM

While I was spending a couple of hours over at a friends's shooting pool and drinking beer, he asked me take a look at his new-at-Xmas Windows 8 computer.  I remember that it's a Dell, that it's 64 bit, and that it's not 8.1, only 8.


His family had already managed to get it screwed up with 24x7 help, search conduit, some Speed Up My PC and Optimize My PC nonsense, and I told him that I could take care of removing that junk easily.  Wrong.... 


The first think I noticed is that Programs and Features off the Control Panel had only 3, 4 programs listed.  I let it populate while it was my turn to shoot and 5 minutes later the 3 or 4 programs was all we got.  I'd never seen that before.  Nothing that was displayed in P&F was any of the junk I wanted to remove.


When I clicked on the IE icon on his desktop I got the following msg box, headed Bad Image

C:\Program Files (x86)\Settings Manager\systemk\x64\systemkbho.dll is either not designed to run on windows or it contains an error

I closed the box and his home page opened.  I downloaded and ran Malwarebytes 2.0.  I think I ran Threat Detection (why they decided to change the name from Quick Scan is a mystery).  It found 2113 infections - all of them PUPs.  I got rid of them all and rebooted.  No change to P&F except that now Malwarebytes was listed as well.  No change to the browser pop up either.


I installed Firefox and got the same browser pop up as above.  I ran Mbar - it found a couple of things which I got rid of.  I ran JRT and AdwCleaner.  When JRT initiated it tried to make a backup of the registry and it said it couldn't find the path.  It said the same thing on the Modules section.  AdwCleaner found nothing.  I then ran ESET Online Scanner and it took over an hour but found ten nasty viruses which it removed.  I then rebooted but nothing had changed.


I downloaded and ran Autoruns, unchecking the item labelled ....\x64\systemkbho.dll.  Made no difference.  Same browser popup. 


I downloaded Revo Uninstaller.  It also found only the handfull of programs displayed in P&F. 


I ran an elevated SFC /SCANNOW.  It found no integrity violations


I turned off the computer after ascertaining that, except for the IE and Firefox msg boxes, the PC was running just fine.  We had a couple more beers and I went home, telling him that I'd write this up into a forum the next day.  I Googled the message and came up with essentially nothing before I posted.


Any advice on what to do next, if anything?  My friend says he's fine having to click OK every time he opens a browser, and it does only happen on the first open.  Any subsequent tabs open correctly without the msg box. 


A restore is out of the question since something wiped out all his points prior to 2 weeks ago, and he started having problems about 3 weeks ago.  He does not want to do a full recovery since he's fine with having to do an extra mouse click on IE or Firefox.  I just don't know if it's symptomatic of a bigger problem that'll crash his entire PC.

Edited by boweasel, 04 April 2014 - 06:10 PM.

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#2 OldPhil



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Posted 06 April 2014 - 06:15 PM

You need to re post in Am I Infected, you still have bugs!

Honesty & Integrity Above All!

#3 Netghost56


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Posted 07 April 2014 - 04:46 PM

I had this happen to a clients computer....I was removing malware and unnecessary apps when suddenly the list of installed apps (about 30 were left) disappeared in both Revo and P&F. I had to do a system restore, and after several more restores I found that there was a basket of apps that were installed that were causing this. I removed everything except these apps and everything worked fine. 


I would recommend either a system restore or data backup followed by a factory restore.


If you can see that software is installed but not listed on P&F- I'm not sure if removing the virus (you may still have) will fix this- only what I've mentioned is what worked for me.


Good Luck

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