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Advice on how to fix Internet Explorer

Recently, a virus-infection has damaged IE 5.00 on my Windows 98 SE system.  I've tried everything I can think of to fix the problem, but nothing has helped.  Maybe somebody here has some ideas.

The problem started when I foolishly clicked on a malicious link.  The virus (or trojan) is described in this Google Groups posting:

I'm running Panda Titanium Anti-Virus, but the virus got through anyway.  Actually, neither Panda nor Symantec found the virus afterwards, even when I did a full system scan.  I deleted the virus executables, but one problem remains:  Internet Explorer now "forgets" things.

After a re-boot, whenever I visit sites like Amazon that require a username/password, the sites don't recognize me automatically, like they used to.  I'm forced to enter my username/password, although these do seem to be stored via the autofill feature.  Also, IE "forgets" which links I've clicked on and which ones I haven't.  All links revert to blue after a re-boot.

I've re-installed IE 5.00 three times.  I've checked all the settings under Tools --> Internet Options.  I've checked the paranoia settings under TweakUI.  I've completely deleted all the temporary internet files.

None of this has made any difference.

I'm thinking that maybe the virus made some change to my Windows registry, but I don't know where to even begin looking for the change.

Anybody here have any ideas?  I'm almost to the point where I'll just install Mozilla Firebird and forget about IE.

Thanks in advance.

Alex Chernavsky
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Try adaware...  it now looks for programs and DLL's that are hooked into IE and offers to remove them.

Also, delete your cache, history, everything.

Almost Anonymous
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Yes, I ran Adaware, Stinger, and Spybot Search-and-Destroy.  Hasn't made any difference.

I've also posted to several Usenet groups asking for advice, but none of the replies were helpful.

I've searched for help via Google, but nothing seemed relevant.

Alex Chernavsky
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

What's wrong with IE 6? - It is much better than 5.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I'm concerned that IE6 would be too slow on my system.  IE 5.00 is quick to load, and I like that.

Alex Chernavsky
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

We run IE6 on all of our crappy old 98SE celeron-based company PCs, and I have never noticed a performance problem.  If anything, IE6 seemed to fix a lot of touchy little system bugs anyway.

If that's your only reservation, I wouldn't worry about it.

(Or, just go with Firebird.  Seems to work fine for me with everything but MS-specific java script, such as the rich text editor in Hotmail...)

Tim Lara
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

This is my four-step fix-it-all utility for people's computers that have been 'broken' by something they did related to the Internet.  I have used this system to fix ... about ten (other people's) computers in the last year.  All successfully.

1.  Go to and update your security patches.  Takes several installs/reboots.  This will probably "fix" you up to Internet Explorer 6 and all its service pack(s).  Pretty much requires broadband, especially if you're running Windows 2000/XP and getting all the huge service pack updates.

2.  Get a firewall up and running.  ZoneAlarm is what I use.  Others work just as well.

3.  Download AdAware.  There are others, but this is the one I've tried.  Make sure you click on "get update definitions" before you run AdAware to check your system.  Check your system  and remove everything it tells you to.

4.  If you must, use a virus scanner.  I don't trust them, and haven't trusted them since Windows 95.  AVG is free.  Trend Micro offers a free web-scan of your hard drive, if you don't want to fully install everything.

Oh, and the 'remembering' thing is directly tied to cookies.  You may have disabled cookies.  You said you tried everything, but maybe you didn't?

If Internet Explorer is completely hosed, you can also try installing another browser.  Opera is excellent for my needs, though it runs an ad banner at all times at the top of the window.  Mozilla Firebird ... well, others have tried that.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

The main symptoms you're describing (Internet Explorer forgetting where you've been, sites not recognising you) do just sound like they're down to your security settings. 

If you've got all the paraonoia features in TweakUI turned on, that'll delete your entire browser cache and history each time you exit IE - and thus it won't know which links you've visited (and won't mark them).

The other aspect sounds like you've got persistent cookies disabled (which has roughly the same effect, but for cookies)....

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

There was just an advisory for unpatched holes in IE.  Please use another browser for general use on the internet and resort to IE if an ecommerce or banking site you need won't work with the other browser.

Link to vulns.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I use IE when I want to have a history or cookies on a site, like my e-mail or JoS. These are sites I trust and visit on a regular basis.

I use Mozilla for everything else, and it erases my history & cookies when I'm done.

Let's face it, IE is the market leader by an extremely wide margin, and any expliots are going to be targeted at it.
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

OK, an update.

I went to Windows Update and downloaded all the updates, including IE6.  The result?  No difference at all.  Still showing exactly the same symptoms.

This is so damned irritating.

Alex Chernavsky
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

It sounds to me like your folders and/or the pointers to the folders got deleted.

Windows can't store cookies if it can't find the folder to put them in.

Maybe someone knows where Windows stores these pointers, somewhere in the registry I imagine....
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Yeah, I checked.  All my temporary Internet files get deleted every time I do a re-boot.  I even disabled TweakUI, and it still happens.

Where else besides TweakUI can this behavior be controlled?

Alex Chernavsky
Thursday, November 27, 2003

Tweak UI is simply a registry editor.

You can also change the setting in Internet Options on the tools menu or in Control Panel - same dialog box. There is a dialog box that says empty temporary internet files when you close the browser. Uncheck it.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, November 27, 2003

I solved the problem.

I had previously deleted several executables that had been installed by the virus, but I apparently missed one.  This morning, I noticed that my Windows subdirectory had a program called, "system.exe" that was being executed at start-up.

After I deleted system.exe, the problem was solved.

Panda AntiVirus, Symantec AntiVirus, AdAware, and Spybot were all completely useless in this case.  Right from the start, none of these programs found anything wrong with my system.

My previously unshakable faith in the quality of software has now been completely ruined.

Alex Chernavsky
Thursday, November 27, 2003

I use start up cop daily to see what's running.

Now it's possible this exploit was a new variation - worms have been using this file name for at least a year - and it's activity wasn't detected because it didn't affect enough people.

Now if you run Win 2K or Win XP and runnning as user, as you should do when connected to the Internet, :) then the virus would not have been able to write to the registry and run.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, November 27, 2003

Recently I walked around in my old shoes on a rainy day. The left one had a hole in it so my socks got soaking wet. I realized it only when I came back home. So I exchanged my left sock for a plastic bag. The other day, while it was still raining, I went outside again. Unfortunately the plastic bag had some holes in it, too, so I caught a flu.

My solution so far was not to wear any socks or plastic bags anymore but to wax my left foot before I get outside. Perhaps I will cut off the top leather of the left shoe and attach a sponge-o-matic machine to the foot that soaks up all the water that cumulates in the sole.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

A computer on my network was infected with a virus. I had to go into the command prompt to delete it. Then I installed

- AVG (antivirus)
- Ad Aware (anti spyware)
- Zone Alarm (firewall)
- Spybot Search & Destroy (anti spyware)

AVG, Ad Aware, and Spybot all found things. What a mess!

I recommend everyone install these programs (or similar antivirus & firewall). Especially Internet Explorer users. I'd also recommend a program that tells you what starts when Windows starts, but can't make any specific recommendations right now.
Friday, November 28, 2003

I recommend a little utility called StartupMonitor. It interactively quizzes you whenever something tries to start with Windows-"allow *.exe to run at startup?" Google for it.

Murkin (from Murka)
Friday, November 28, 2003

Last time I checked it was the year 2003. Don't you think an upgrade should be in order?

I bet all your code is in GWBASIC huh?

Friday, November 28, 2003

""" My previously unshakable faith in the quality of software has now been completely ruined. """

Alex, I hope that was sarcastic. If it was't, then it's a good thing your faith was ruined wihtout costing you much. Software that deserves faith is extremely rare these days.

Ori Berger
Friday, November 28, 2003

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