Once they pop, I can't stop
May 3, 2010 12:31 PM   Subscribe

Constant pop-ups on Internet Explorer, even though Firefox is my default browser. Something's making them happen. How do I stop it?

I'm running Windows 7 and have IE8 installed, though never use it as I prefer Firefox. Over the past couple of days I keep getting IE pop ups constantly - different sites, some with annoying noises. I've tried running Ad-Aware and Spybot - they both found and deleted things, but still they come. I can't uninstall IE from my laptop either. Is there anything else I can do? I am NOT computer-savvy enough to try HijackThis on my own.
posted by mippy to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Try running a virus scanner, not just a malware scanner.
This happened to me a few years ago. It was a virus, and a full scan with AVG picked it right up.
posted by caveat at 12:42 PM on May 3, 2010

You could try Microsoft's free security dingus if AVG doesn't help. Don't install more than one at a time though.
posted by chairface at 12:53 PM on May 3, 2010

The current top program in my arsenal is Malware Bytes Anti-Malware.

Also AVG crossed the line with updates and popups, so I use Clamwin and it's pretty good.
posted by anti social order at 12:59 PM on May 3, 2010

If you go into the Control Panel, and then to Uninstall Programs, along the left-hand side there is a link that says "Turn Windows features on and off" and you can deselect IE. This might get rid of the symptoms, but you'll definitely want to look into the problem further. I'm a big fan of AVG.
posted by LokiBear at 1:03 PM on May 3, 2010

I use AVG as a resident antivirus, but Malwarebytes is the first thing I turn to if something gets past AVG. Malware Bytes should definitely be your first stop.
posted by rocketpup at 1:06 PM on May 3, 2010

Response by poster: I've noticed that there are cookies in my system from the popped-up sites, but I can't seem to delete them manually.
posted by mippy at 1:11 PM on May 3, 2010

Seconding Microsoft Security Essentials. If you're infected, it''ll find it and unlike AVG and others it wont crap up your PC with toolbars, plugins, and ads.

Also, are you sure they are IE windows? They might just be drawn using some html trickery that makes them look like IE windows.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:21 PM on May 3, 2010

I would back everything up and reinstall windows 7. If you do that or troubleshoot it in the future add a password to the admin account and create a standard user account and work from that. BTW if you are going to try and fix it yourself make sure you rename the executable of avg or malwarebytes.
posted by bravowhiskey at 1:32 PM on May 3, 2010

Response by poster: i can't back everything up, or reinstall Win7 right now (no external drive, no restart discs).

I have Microsoft Security Essentials installed and running since I got the laptop, but it doesn't seem to have caught anything. Turning off IE doesn't seem to have stopped them either.
posted by mippy at 1:56 PM on May 3, 2010

seconding MalwareBytes. Install it and then boot into safe mode and run it.

If you're generally logged on as an administrator you really stop doing that it's just asking for trouble. If you're not aware that you're 'logged on' at all you need to investigate to find out what the default setup is - post vista you're probably not an administrator but it's worth checking.
posted by southof40 at 2:38 PM on May 3, 2010

Response by poster: My user account settings say I'm an administrator. My account is password protected, and other users require a password to make changes.
posted by mippy at 2:51 PM on May 3, 2010

@mippy - the problem is (at least as I understand it and I'm not a window sysadmin) is that if you're logged on as an Administrator any program you run has similar rights. Consequently if you (unknowingly) allow a virus/malware to be installed/run whilst you're doing something else it in turn is able to do much more than if it were running with the rights of a normal user.

Either way it's not good but allowing a virus/malware administrator rights is only going to cause more pain.

Vista and (I assume) Win7 are very well set up to allow you to run programs as administrator when you need to (eg an installer might prompt you to run it as administrator) and not otherwise. Things weren't so clear in XP and earlier so I would strongly suggest you do what bravowhiskey regarding the accounts
posted by southof40 at 3:06 PM on May 3, 2010

Although I run IE8 on XP, I had fuck-all problems with IE8. Just by way of background, I had to uninstall IE8 and go back to IE6 until I got everything settled down. The symptoms for me were alost endless iterations of IE8 opening & closing until my machine was paralyzed. I have enterprise level McAfee virus protection, Windows Defender, and so on. But these windows kept popping up & up & up.

When I added IE8 back in, I had to go to Tools-Internet Options-Advanced to manage Add-Ins & Accelerators. I disabled every accelerator & every add-in, and then added them back in, one by one (though sometimes in groups by application in the case of Google or java).

This goes back several months ago, so I don't remember which 'bad actor' was the culprit. Seems like maybe there was a Yahoo toolbar that slipped past me when installing a java update. I went through Add/delete programs & deleted anything that I was never going to use (such as the Yahoo toolbar).

Although Chrome is my default browser, I now have no more problems with IE8. There's a KB paper on IE8 & accelerator interference.
posted by klangklangston at 8:06 PM on May 3, 2010

Just to add on to what others have mentioned, this is what works for me when cleaning Windows 7/Vista folks' machines. First, download Malwarebytes - possibly on to a flash drive, since your pop-ups may be a symptom of one of the horrid malware trojans that won't allow AVG nor malwarebytes to run, nor update. Then, boot into safe mode with networking, then run malwarebytes first, and have it do a full scan. Then follow up with AVG, while still in safe mode. Then see if you can boot normally, without pop-ups! Good luck!
posted by Lynsey at 9:10 PM on May 3, 2010

Response by poster: OK. I tried running Spybot (as it found things which I couldn't delete in normal boot) then Malwarebytes in safe mode. If I keep getting problems, I'll try rhe same thing with AVG and then Malwarebytes. I'll see how it runs tonight...
posted by mippy at 3:13 AM on May 4, 2010

What kind of computer do you have? I would really try to focus on rescue and wipe at this point. Some manufacturers have built in restore partitions which would help with no disks. And if you have a lot of valuable data to save it's really worth it to have a backup partition or external hard drive. There's also ways to backup online using things like dropbox. Just remember to scan the hard drive or partition with an antivirus before transferring the contents back.
posted by bravowhiskey at 7:34 AM on May 4, 2010

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