Pop-Up Ads
May 7, 2004 4:19 PM   Subscribe

Infuriating popup ads I can't get rid of, help! {inside}

Just about every time I open a new Internet Explorer window or click a link/visit a website, a popup ad comes up. I know it is my computer and not the sites, because visiting them on other PCs generates no popups. I have scanned absolutely EVERYTHING with Ad-Aware, Spybot and Norton, I have removed all start-up items from the Start Menu, Registry and msconfig, cleared all IE plugins, but still am unable to fix the problem... (IE6 SP1 on XP Pro, all updates). Thanks!
posted by ac to Computers & Internet (19 answers total)
Check out HijackThis. Unlike Spybot and Ad-Aware, it simply lists autorun and IE add-ins instead of scanning for known spyware. If anything looks out of the ordinary, you can disable them.

Also, there's always Firefox.
posted by zsazsa at 5:19 PM on May 7, 2004

Did you run the updates before running the scans for spyware?

Is your default homepage something with popups?

Have you thought about installing Firefox, or at least Google toolbar?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:19 PM on May 7, 2004

I second Hijack This. There's also tutorials to help make sense of what you are seeing.
posted by vacapinta at 5:22 PM on May 7, 2004

I have the Google toolbar, can't live without it. It is set to block popups, no use.
Homepage is Google also.
Was updated before scans, yes.
HijackThis rules! I think it fixed my problem, I deleted a bunch of obviously corrupt stuff with it.

Also: I use Internet Explorer. Don't tell me to switch browsers, don't tell me to get a Mac when I have an issue with my PC, don't post unhelpful snarks, PLEASE.
posted by ac at 5:25 PM on May 7, 2004

Don't tell me to switch browsers, don't tell me to get a Mac when I have an issue with my PC, don't post unhelpful snarks, PLEASE.

Here's another "don't" for your list: Don't post another Ask MetaFilter question the next time you run into a similar problem, because you've chosen a remedy for the superficial (pop-up) issue rather than treating the underlying (insecure computer) problem.

You claim that both Windows and Internet Explorer were updated, and that you ran Ad-Aware and Spybot and Norton, and that you stopped all suspicious processes from running at start-up, which would tend to indicate that you're relatively computer-savvy. Despite these measures, you somehow managed to get a browser hijack installed on your machine.

How long do you think it'll take until the next -- perhaps more destructive -- bit of malware manifests itself, if you continue to use the most likely avenue of infection? There's wisdom in offering you a less-hazardous replacement for your browser, and considering that advice (rather than batting it back in people's faces) might prove beneficial in the long run.
posted by Danelope at 5:49 PM on May 7, 2004

I am asking for help with my IE, not for help choosing a secure browser. I am perfectly happy with IE, and I take plenty of precautions. My security is set to high, I have protection, etc. I had many infestations, and finally dealt with the problem succesfully, with the exception of this one set of popups.
If I was going to switch browsers, that would obviously be a much easier way to be rid of popups, but that's not a valid solution; I need IE.
And if I do get further infections, I have HijackThis! I am extremely pleased and thankful with this thread, it resulted in me finding a super-valuable tool that I didn't even know existed.
posted by ac at 6:05 PM on May 7, 2004

I am asking for help with my IE, not for help choosing a secure browser. I am perfectly happy with IE, and I take plenty of precautions.

Irregardless of your precautions, you will have more problems in the future if you choose to remain with Internet Explorer. There are bugs that have yet to be fixed that already have exploits out in the wild. These exploits have nothing, not a single thing to do with your security zone settings. You're playing Russian Roulette right now. You've already had one hijack, even with "precautions". Why are you so insistent on remaining at risk?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:12 PM on May 7, 2004

Are the pop-ups all the same type of thing? Advertising the same site (eg, gambling)? Or are they completely random?
posted by rhapsodie at 6:13 PM on May 7, 2004

I an not sure they are all of the same type... many of them are Page cannot be displayed, thanks to some ad-blocking crap I have in my hosts file. However I am MUCH better, completely cured (dare I say it?) now that I went through with HijackThis.

Also, I am not "insistent on remaining at risk"; I prefer IE. It is the superior browser IMHO. I am not going to get into this argument now, I won't waste time on a pissing match with the "kill MS" crowd.
posted by ac at 6:18 PM on May 7, 2004

Oh, and...

Swish! He shoots he scores! Oh yeah!
posted by ac at 6:19 PM on May 7, 2004

Wait a minute. ac is complaining that people are making unhelpful posts? Pot, meet kettle.
posted by dobbs at 7:15 PM on May 7, 2004

Also, I am not "insistent on remaining at risk"; I prefer IE.

If you insist on using IE, you are remaining at risk. Period.

It is the superior browser IMHO.

The superior browser that, despite all of your so-called "precautions", allowed arbitrary and untrusted code to be installed on your computer. Code which, among other things, spawned advertisements whenever you opened your superior browser.

I won't waste time on a pissing match with the "kill MS" crowd.

If advocating true security rather than taking half-assed measures and spouting platitudes means you're part of the "kill MS" crowd, then so be it. But you, you're smart and capable and fully equipped to secure your own computer, which is why you're begging help on the Internet to remedy your spyware infestation. Zang!
posted by Danelope at 7:22 PM on May 7, 2004

Um, ac, the usage was, in fact, deliberate.

By the way, you're missing a comma.

Ooooh! He shoots, he scores! Oh yeah!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:23 PM on May 7, 2004

Three suggestions: first, make sure that you have all of IE's "ActiveX" security settings on either "disabled" or "prompt". You should never allow ActiveX to run without it asking your specific permission for each control. Get used to hitting "no" when you get these requests, as you can almost always live without it. Second, get some kind of a hardware firewall between you and the internet. Many cheap "connection sharing" type routers can do this, or consider putting OpenBSD on an old machine. Third, back up all of your data on a CD or DVD, as it's possible (perhaps even likely) that you'll have to reformat your hard drive sooner or later to remove some really nasty piece of malware.
posted by Zonker at 7:25 PM on May 7, 2004

I give up.
posted by ac at 8:05 PM on May 7, 2004

Also, the "thing" that you have in your hosts file - do you know what it is? My mother insists on using IE after being thoroughly confused by Mozilla (what can I say, at least she tried it) so I got her to download our own Mike Skallas' hosts file and she is very pleased with it - said it compared favorably to the old Technoerotica popup blocker links.
posted by Lynsey at 10:03 PM on May 7, 2004

What the fuck, people? Why can't ac enjoy Internet Explorer in peace?

ac's choice may seem unwise, it may seem willfully ignorant. But so fucking what? What the fuck does it have to do with you? Why on earth do you feel the need to confront ac about sticking with IE? He doesn't have to answer to you about what browser he uses! Christ!
posted by Khalad at 1:25 AM on May 8, 2004

The ideal goal of Ask MetaFilter is not simply to answer questions, but also to impart people with knowledge and empower them to find more information on their own. It makes no sense to offer a dry answer if the user will run into the same problem again later. Rather, giving them a means to eliminate the root cause of the problem ("give a man a fish, etc.") is more valuable.

In case you missed it, Khalad, ac brought his problem to this forum, and ac reacted with righteous indignation when members offered more holistic answers to a narrow question.
posted by Danelope at 3:10 AM on May 8, 2004

"Doctor, I've got this stabbing pain in my arm. Can you prescribe me some painkillers?"

"Hmm, that looks broken. Why don't I put it in a cast, and then after six weeks or so it'll be good as new."

"Six weeks? Screw that! Just give me the painkillers already."

sorry for piling on, but I couldn't resist
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:52 AM on May 8, 2004

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