Excessive pop-up problems

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Caraise Link
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Excessive pop-up problems

Postby Caraise Link » Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:45 am UTC

I'm not really sure how to ask for help on a forum like this, so let me know if I'm doing it wrong. I'm having these problems with a Windows 8 Toshiba laptop running Firefox, and my antivirus (Kaspersky) doesn't seem to be able to do anything about it:

I'm suddenly getting a lot of ads that lay over the page I'm on, obstructing the page with no (real) close buttons. Frequently when I try to load a new page, I get a pop-up tab that steals the focus from my current tab. A lot of text that I know shouldn't have any special formatting is suddenly green and double-underlined, and display ads when I hover my cursor over them. I keep getting an "unresponsive plugin" error, sometimes followed by Firefox becoming unresponsive. My laptop is also running really, really slowly.

Between these problems happening seemingly everywhere and knowing the guy who runs one of the sites, I'm pretty sure I've got something on my computer. It's kind of my fault; I downloaded a couple things I really, really shouldn't have. I've never knowingly had malware on my computer before, though, so I'm kind of creeped out and have no idea what I can do about it. Just registering so I could post this required 15 minutes and a restart.

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phlip
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Re: Excessive pop-up problems

Postby phlip » Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:11 am UTC

To help narrow it down - does it still happen if you run Firefox in Safe Mode? If it doesn't, you probably have some rogue extension installed, and you can probably clear it up relatively easily by finding and removing the offending add-on.

If that doesn't help, then you've got something more virusey going on. If your AV isn't picking it up, you might want to try a different AV... Malwarebytes is a good one that's the usual recommendation.

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Caraise Link
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Re: Excessive pop-up problems

Postby Caraise Link » Wed Dec 17, 2014 4:58 am UTC

Looks like it was a malware problem; running Firefox in safe mode didn't do anything, but running Malwarebytes cleared things up immediately. Actually, it's been running a little slow for at least a month, and even that's totally gone now. Lessons have been learned; thanks phlip!
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PM 2Ring
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Re: Excessive pop-up problems

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:48 am UTC

This sounds like the superfish PUP (Potentially Unwanted Program); it can be difficult to eradicate. And if you try to do searches relating to it on an infected machine you will get re-directed. And if you've got superfish you've probably got a few other PUPs and other forms of malware on your system.

As a first step, look at your browser extensions and disable or remove any that you aren't sure of. Then go into the Control Panel Remove Programs thing (or whatever it's called on Windows 8) and uninstall anything that you think looks suspicious, eg programs that claim to be ad blockers or Web helpers that you don't remember installing.

PUPs are generally installed by accident - they're bundled with free software so that people who don't read the fine print install these hitch-hikers along with the desired software.

Malwarebytes Anti Malware (MBAM) is very good. There is a free version as well as a paid version which gives continuous real-time protection to stop fresh infections; the free version only lets you remove malware after you've been infected (but it can automatically scan at scheduled times). However, when you install the free version you have the option of a 30 day free trial of the paid version.

Unfortunately, MBAM may not help with superfish itself. ADWcleaner can find superfish files and quarantine them, but it might require more drastic action to totally remove it, eg re-installing your browser. I recently removed superfish from a friend's Windows 7 machine. As well as mbam & ADWcleaner I also used Junkware Removal Tool (JRT), but even after using those tools I still had to re-install Chrome to stop superfish from coming back.

As I mentioned earlier, it may be difficult to do searches and downloads related to this topic on an infected machine. On my friend's machine I used my trusty Linux USB stick to do the research and to download the necessary programs.

There are more powerful malware / virus removal tools available (eg Combofix), but they're intended for use by software security experts, or at least, by someone who has access to such an expert to interpret the reports such programs generate.

maydayp
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Re: Excessive pop-up problems

Postby maydayp » Sun Dec 28, 2014 10:40 am UTC

So, I've a fairly related question. My mother seems to keep getting something like this, inevitably downloading some program that generated tons of pop-ups. (her computer was infested with viruses within a year of getting a new computer. Fresh install of win7 two months ago, and she messed up her computer again, getting rid of an unwanted program). I can't vet everything she downloads, since we don't share the same roof, or live in the same town. But I'm the one she expects to fix her computer (my fault since I tried last time, and paid to get it fixed).

cphite
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Re: Excessive pop-up problems

Postby cphite » Mon Dec 29, 2014 4:21 pm UTC

maydayp wrote:So, I've a fairly related question. My mother seems to keep getting something like this, inevitably downloading some program that generated tons of pop-ups. (her computer was infested with viruses within a year of getting a new computer. Fresh install of win7 two months ago, and she messed up her computer again, getting rid of an unwanted program). I can't vet everything she downloads, since we don't share the same roof, or live in the same town. But I'm the one she expects to fix her computer (my fault since I tried last time, and paid to get it fixed).


Have you considered setting up a separate account for her that has no access to install anything? Also, if you don't already, grab a copy of something like Macrium or Ghost and, immediately after a fresh install, burn an image onto a DVD and stick it away someplace. That way, if (or when) she does flub things up again, it's a lot easier to get her back up and running.

Finally, and depending on how she actually uses the computer, you might consider replacing Windows with something like Linux. Honestly, if all she does is browse the web and occasionally use office-like programs, you can do all of that in Linux. There are plenty of distributions (Mint or Ubuntu for example) that look and feel close enough to Windows that the learning curve is negligible; and at least for now it's much, much harder to get any sort of malware.

jlpicard2
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Re: Excessive pop-up problems

Postby jlpicard2 » Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:10 pm UTC

I recommend running ESET NOD32 Antivirus. Malware is a more serious problem than actual viruses at this point. Make sure to enable detection of potentially unwanted applications, Enable detection of potentially unsafe applications and Enable detection of suspicious applications.

http://kb.eset.com/esetkb/index?page=co ... d=SOLN2629
http://kb.eset.com/esetkb/index?page=co ... d=SOLN3204


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