Browser problems
March 19, 2005 4:06 PM   Subscribe

My brother says that he can't use websites which have some kind of "logging in" type function e.g. online banking, Hotmail etc. He's kind of resigned to it but asked me why it happens. Has anyone any ideas why this happens? Browser settings? Cookie problems?

Some more details: he's on a home network with a shared broadband internet connection. I think they're using a standard broadband router. Whenever his browser requests a page, the little counter at the bottom that tells you what percentage of the page has been fetched so far rarely gets past 20%, then the request timeouts.

The problem happens in any browser, not just IE.
posted by uk_giffo to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Do others sharing the broadband connection have the same problem. If no, does he still have the problem if he unplugs the network cable from one of their computers and plugs it in his (leaving the other end where it is)?

(Repeat for every variable you can think of)
posted by winston at 4:27 PM on March 19, 2005

What brand is the router? I think Belkin, for one, has free lifetime 24/7 tech support
posted by winston at 4:28 PM on March 19, 2005

Hmmm... most strange.

1) Can the other people on his shared connection access such sites?

2) Do you know if it is a problem with SSL? For example, Kuro5hin normally, and Kuro5hin with SSL.

3) Have you run programs like Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy? Some spyware/viruses now watche your web habits and tries to grad passwords/logins from banking sites.

4) You might want to try booting off something like a Knoppix CD. You should be able to access the network and use a browser (Konquer). This will help you tell if it is Windows, or the router.
posted by sbutler at 4:28 PM on March 19, 2005

wow... should have run spell check on that. I swear I'm a native English speaker, folks.
posted by sbutler at 4:29 PM on March 19, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for your comments so far. A few more details in reply to those questions:

No-one else in the house has the same problem, it's only his PC that's affected.

I'll try a few of those suggestions like getting him to plug in one of the other lads' Ethernet cables into his PC and see what the outcome is.

I do try to get him to run Ad-Aware and S&D occasionally but as with many people who aren't too computer-savvy, he doesn't seem to see the point of it. It wouldn't surprise me if he has picked up some nasty spyware from somewhere, and that's what's causing it. But to be honest I like the sound of it being a SSL problem - I'll read up a bit more about that.
posted by uk_giffo at 4:59 PM on March 19, 2005

Definitely try booting from a Knoppix CD. It will tell you definitively if he is having a problem with his hardware or software. In this case, it is about 99% likely it is an issue with his Windows install. As sbutler pointed out, it is probably spyware, and using Knoppix will demonstrate that.
posted by bh at 1:03 AM on March 20, 2005

Booting Knoppix sounds above his skill level if not above yours; and if it works, does not definitively indicate spyware. Ditto box and others on Ad-Aware and Spybot; the combo should find everything.
Other problems could be:

*OS - for instance, Windows XP firewall/security settings
*application settings - since he won't use AAW/SB, I doubt this is the case, but does he have a third-party firewall installed? ZoneAlarm, Norton Internet Security, McAfee Security Center, etc.
*browser version/plugins - you said browser type has no effect, which other browsers have you tried? This isn't as likely unless he has very old versions...
*router and/or broadband device (cable/dsl modem) settings issue. It's possible that his IP is being partially restricted, and this could even be due to a glitch rather than a manually adjusted setting. Try power-cycling both the modem and router (unplug power to them both for at least two minutes). Then restart his machine and try again.
*Virus/trojan activity or even damage from a previously removed virus. Does he have a virus scanner installed, updated, and running at least once a month?
posted by attercoppe at 12:20 PM on March 20, 2005

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