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Dennis Hall

Dennis Hall


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Lots of pop-ups...
How do you get rid of them?

Dell Dim 4400
P4 1.8 GHz
Win XP Home
IE 5.0

Tried to get rid of them using SpyBot, Ad-aware, and CleanUp!. No luck. A HiJackThis log is attached. Any ideas???

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Hi Dennis,

Lets get this show on the road.

Please read this post completely, it may make it easier for you if you copy and paste this post to a new text document or print it for reference later.

This will likely be a few step process in removing the malware that has infected your system. I encourage you to stick with it and follow my directions as closely as possible so as to avoid complicating the problem further.

You have a nasty CoolWebSearch infection and a possible pepper infection as well as various items of malware.

First, we need to remove the peper trojan. Download this file, run, and let terminate (it'll just blink briefly on your screen and won't appeared to have done much--this is normal):

Next we will need to download a few tools that will help us in the removal of your problem.

Download about:buster by RubbeRDuckY HERE
Download CWShredder Here.
Download SpSeHjfix Here.
Download and install CleanUp! Here

Download a free 14 day trial of ewido from the link below. Install it and start it up. Follow the prompts to upgrade it, then close it down.


Set PC to show hidden files (click link if you do not know how)LINK

Save all of these files somewhere you will remember like to the Desktop.

Unzip SpSeHjfix to its own folder (ie c:\SpSeHjfix)

Run the CleanUp! installer. You dont need to do anything with it right now.

Update About:Buster
  • Unzip the contents of AboutBuster.zip and an AboutBuster directory will be created.
  • Navigate to the AboutBuster directory and double-click on AboutBuster.exe.
  • Click "OK" at the prompt with instructions.
  • Click "Update" and then "Check For Update" to begin the update process.
  • If any updates exist please download them by clicking "Download Update" then click the X to close that window.
  • Now close About:Buster
Update CWShredder
  • Open CWShredder and click I AGREE
  • Click Check For Update
  • Close CWShredder
Please run an on-line virus scan at Kaspersky OnLine Scan or if that doesnt work, you can use TrendMicro or BitDefender. (Please post the results of the scan(s) in your next reply)

Boot into Safe Mode:
Restart your computer and as soon as it starts booting up again continuously tap F8. A menu should come up where you will be given the option to enter Safe Mode.

Please run about:buster by RubbeRDuckY:
  • Click Start and then OK to allow AboutBuster to scan for Alternate Data Streams.
  • Click Yes to allow it to shutdown explorer.exe.
  • It will begin to check your computer for malicious files. If it asks if you would like to do a second pass, allow it to do so.
  • When it has finished, click Save Log. Make sure you save it as I may need a copy of it later.
  • Reboot your computer into safe mode again
Run about:buster again following the same instructions as above, this time without the restart at the end

Now run CWShredder. Click I Agree, then Fix and then Next, let it fix everything it asks about.

Now run SpSeHjfix. A log will be saved in the same folder that you put the exe into. Please post the results of that log in your next reply.

Warning Note: On a few occasions it has been reported that after using the SPSEHjfix you cannot open Internet Explorer. To fix this, go into Control Panel >Internet Options >Programs & press reset web settings, then you can set your home page to what you want on the general tab.

Now scan with HJT and check the following entries if they are there. Some may have been removed by earlier procedures.

R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Search_URL = about:blank
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = about:blank
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch = about:blank
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchURL,(Default) = about:blank
R3 - URLSearchHook: (no name) - _{9368D063-44BE-49B9-BD14-BB9663FD38FC} - (no file)
R3 - URLSearchHook: (no name) - _{4FC95EDD-4796-4966-9049-29649C80111D} - (no file)
R3 - URLSearchHook: (no name) - _{707E6F76-9FFB-4920-A976-EA101271BC25} -(no file)
O2 - BHO: (no name) - {016235BE-59D4-4CEB-ADD5-E2378282A1D9} - C:\Program Files\CxtPls\cxtpls.dll
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [MSConfig45] MSConfig45.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [jhAV] C:\docume~1\coley\locals~1\temp\jhAV.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Csw] C:\docume~1\coley\locals~1\temp\Csw.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [gbbL9x] C:\docume~1\coley\locals~1\temp\gbbL9x.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [stcinstaller] c:\installer\id53.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [2LRX2W83X2T3MQ] C:\WINDOWS\System32\Yfk8.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Prein] C:\DOCUME~1\Coley\LOCALS~1\Temp\app35.tmp
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [iJmsvhMm5] C:\documents and settings\coley\local settings\temp\iJmsvhMm5.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [1cd9fc1a2af1] C:\WINDOWS\System32\AVMETER2.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [JEfco] C:\windows\system32\JEfco.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [uwkobu] c:\windows\system32\uwkobu.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [AutoUpdater] "C:\Program Files\AutoUpdate\AutoUpdate.exe"
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [vFng36Q] mspmib.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\RunServices: [MSConfig45] MSConfig45.exe
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [eo4mRWcsW] msllib32.exe
O4 - Startup: PowerReg Scheduler.exe
O9 - Extra button: (no name) - {120E090D-9136-4b78-8258-F0B44B4BD2AC} - C:\WINDOWS\System32\ms.exe (file missing)
O9 - Extra 'Tools' menuitem: MaxSpeed - {120E090D-9136-4b78-8258-F0B44B4BD2AC} - C:\WINDOWS\System32\ms.exe (file missing)

Ensure no windows open except HJT and click FIX CHECKED.

now using windows explorer locate the following files/folders and delete them.

C:\Program Files\CxtPls\cxtpls.dll
C:\documents and settings\coley\local settings\temp\iJmsvhMm5.exe
C:\Program Files\AutoUpdate\AutoUpdate.exe"
mspmib.exe <<<<<<----- carry out search for this
msllib32.exe <<<<<<-----carry out search for this

Now run CleanUp!. Click CleanUp and allow it to delete all the temporary files.Reboot your computer into normal windows.

Now run Ewido. click on the Scanner button, Select drives if you have more than one and then start.

grab a cup of coffee, sandwiches, book as this may take some time. Once the first problem is detected ensure you tick the box for all (bottom left) and allow it to continue.

At the end of the scan, it may ask if you would like to delete anything found in archive or zipped files, OK that request, then click on save report. SAVE to the default location, it will then generate a text file. Copy that to post in this thread.

Carry out another HJT scan and post the log back here, so we can sort out any remnants
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Dennis Hall

Dennis Hall


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Thanks for the very explicit instructions. They were quite helpful.

Before I received you reply, IE 5 errored out. Microsoft (MS) popped up a window that said to report the problem. I have never done this before, but decided to do so this time. Immediately, another window popped up from MS stating that the problems was likely due to an Apropos malware, and how to get rid of it. I carried our MS's instructions and have not had any pop-ups since. However, I carried out your instructions anyway on the problem box (the Dell Dim 4400) and on my other two Dells (Dim 8100 and Dim 8300) with the following notes:

1) I had already run the current versions of CWShredder, ClenaUp! 4.0, and Trend's House Call immediately before receiving and carrying out your instructions, but did them again in the positions you suggested in the sequence.

2) Downloading the other programs went fin on the Dim 4400, but not on the 8100 or 8300. So I copied these programs from the 4400 to the others.

3) Logs for the following were saved, but problems occurred:

a) AboutBuster (attached)
b) SpSeHjfix log would not attach (invalid file msg... text of log is given below)
c) Ewido (attached)
d) HiJackThis after all tasks completed

SpSeHjFix log would not attach, so here it is:
(6/5/05 10:29:23 PM) SPSeHjFix started v1.1.2
(6/5/05 10:29:23 PM) OS: WinXP Service Pack 2 (5.1.2600)
(6/5/05 10:29:23 PM) Language: english
(6/5/05 10:29:23 PM) Win-Path: C:\WINDOWS
(6/5/05 10:29:23 PM) System-Path: C:\WINDOWS\system32
(6/5/05 10:29:23 PM) Temp-Path: C:\DOCUME~1\Coley\LOCALS~1\Temp\
(6/5/05 10:29:34 PM) Disinfection started
(6/5/05 10:29:34 PM) Bad-Dll(IEP): (not found)
(6/5/05 10:29:34 PM) Bad-Dll(IEP) in BHO: (not found)
(6/5/05 10:29:34 PM) UBF: 4 - UBB: 4 - UBR: 19
(6/5/05 10:29:34 PM) UBF: 4 - UBB: 4 - UBR: 19
(6/5/05 10:29:34 PM) Bad IE-pages:
deleted: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main, Search Bar: about:blank
deleted: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main, Default_Search_URL: about:blank
deleted: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search, CustomizeSearch: about:blank
(6/5/05 10:29:34 PM) Stealth-String not found
(6/5/05 10:29:34 PM) Not infected->END

Other results include:
Dell Dim 8300 had no infected files detected by Ewido.
Dell Dim 8100 had 19 infected files detected and deleted by Ewido.

Things look better. No obvious spurious entries in the HiJackThis log. Are we done???

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Hi Dennis,

1 item to go, not malicious, just clutter.


R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch =

Ensure no windows open except HJKT and click fix checked.


From your log, I see nothing in the ways of trojans, nor any evil entities attempting to possess your computer, except for Windows but it's too late for that one. :tazz:

Congratulations your log now appears to be clean. ;)

Here are some tips, to reduce the potential for spyware infection in the future, I strongly recommend installing the following applications:

Detect and Remove Programs:
  • How to use Ad-Aware to remove Spyware <= If you suspect that you have spyware installed on your computer, here are instructions on how to download, install and then use Ad-Aware.
  • How to use Spybot to remove Spyware <= If you suspect that you have spyware installed on your computer, here are instructions on how to download, install and then use Spybot. Similar to Ad-Aware, I strongly recommend both to catch most spyware.
Prevention Programs:
  • Spywareblaster <= SpywareBlaster will prevent spyware from being installed.
  • Spywareguard <= SpywareGuard offers realtime protection from spyware installation attempts.
  • IE/Spyad <= IE/Spyad places over 4000 websites and domains in the IE Restricted list which will severely impair attempts to infect your system. It basically prevents any downloads (Cookies etc) from the sites listed, although you will still be able to connect to the sites.
  • MVPS Hosts file <= The MVPS Hosts file replaces your current HOSTS file with one containing well know ad sites etc. Basically, this prevents your coputer from connecting to those sites by redirecting them to which is your local computer
  • Google Toolbar <= Get the free google toolbar to help stop pop up windows.
Other necessary Programs:
  • AntiVirus Program<= An AntiVirus program is a must! Whether it is a free version like AVG or Anti-Vir, or a shareware version like Norton or Kapersky, this is a must have.
  • Firewall<= A firewall is definatley a must have. Two good free versions are Sygate and ZoneLabs.
  • More Secure Browser<= Internet Explorer is not the most secure and best browser. There are safer and better alternatives available. I recommend Firefox, however Opera and SlimBrowsers are good as well.
And also see TonyKlein's good advice
So how did I get infected in the first place? and AntiSpyware Net's spyware article: Spyware, Adware, Malware: What it is, how it got on my computer, how to get rid of it, and how to prevent it.
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Dennis Hall

Dennis Hall


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I will delete the following:
"R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch ="
I almost did earlier because it looked suspicious and nearly matched (but not exactly) one of the line in your post.

I have been using Ad-aware, Spybot, and CWhredder for over a year and just updated them last week. I use Norton AV, but just updated from 2002 to 2005 yesterday.

I just added Google Toolbar a couple days ago just before making my initial post. It is apparently much better than the one I have been using (CheckIt 86), which was recommended my Cox, my high-speed ISP. Since I installed Google's Toolbar, it blocked 87 pop-ups in the time CheckIt blocked 4 pop-ups. All pop-ups stopped after eradicating the first round of Apropos malware.

I have not used any of the following: Spywareblaster, Spywareguard, IE/Spyad, and MVPS Hosts file. However, am willing to do so. Is there any downside to having so much anti-spyware software running? Does it slow down computer?

I have a router with a hardware firewall. Therefore, I intentionally do not use a software firewall. This is done in accordance with the recommendations (and concurrence) of the IT group at my office. They tell me that a software firewall is not needed or desired if running a hardware firewall. Any comments on this subject?

I have been pretty hooked on Internet Explorer for several years (since leaving AOL in 1997?). By the way, I am using IE 6.0, not 5.0, on this computer. I am willing to make the change to another browser, if needed. A also hear the Mozilla is good. What user changes and/or limitations should I expect if I changed browsers?

Thanks again...
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Hi Dennis,

Is there any downside to having so much anti-spyware software running? Does it slow down computer?

As long as you do not run 2 antivirus or 2 firewalls together, there should be no detrimental effect on your system by running antispyware simultaneously.

IT dept are correct insofar that a software firewall is not required in a hardware firewall is in place.

Re changing browsers, i am aware that there is a reluctance to change, however for the most part you would not notice much change by switching. Firefox is by Mozilla, which is far more secure than IE.
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Since this issue appears to be resolved ... this Topic has been closed. Glad we could help. :tazz:

If you're the topic starter, and need this topic reopened, please contact a staff member with the address of the thread.

Everyone else please begin a New Topic.
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