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(Solved) - Multiple Internet Explorer Browsers Open by Themselves

(26 posts)
  • Started 6 years ago by scrabbler1
  • Latest reply from Hatryst
  • Topic Viewed 4359 times

scrabbler1
Posts: 19

I have been trying to fix my friend's Gateway laptop for more than a month now. She has XP-Home on it, along with Service Packs 1, 2, and 3. I have the laptop with me as I post this from my own, working PC which happens to have the same OS and web browsers.

For some strange reason, it keeps trying to open internet browsers all the time on its own. This happened with IE6 and Firefox. After a while, it calms down. But when the system starts up or comes out of Stand-by, the windowbomb begins.

It does not matter if it is connected to the internet or not.

It does not matter what the home page is set to.

At times, it had 40-50 browsers open at one time. But more often, it has 5-10 browsers open.

I ran Symantec Antivirus. It found nothing. I ran Spybot S&D. It found nothing. I ran Malwarebytes. It found nothing.

I have reloaded Windows XP from the restoration CDs 4 or 5 times, I lost count. Most recently, I was able to reflash the BIOS using the 9522818.iso file and running 380035.exe. It did not help.

I did not try to reload Windows after reflashing the BIOS, as a Gateway agent told me to run a hard drive scan using GWSCAN512. I ran both the quick scan and the extended scan. Both scans found no errors. I then reloaded Windows OS only (see below) and that did not help.

I also noticed that the system attempts to find an internet connection after I reload the operating system, before I switch CDs and load the drivers.

I was barely able to back up her files before reloading windows for the first time, as this "windowbomb" hijacks other tasks such as Windows Explorer.

Why does this awful thing happen, making the system unusable? How do I make it stop so she can use her system as she has done before?

Posted 6 years ago
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LH
Posts: 20002

scrabbler1 hi. I would completely nuke the drive with DBAN, and then re-install the OS.
http://www.dban.org/

Posted 6 years ago
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scrabbler1
Posts: 19

I tried DBAN and two other HD erasure programs in July. One was from Western Digital, the HD's manufacturer. The other was HDDERASE.

DBAN ran for 9 hours and did not end up erasing the HD, as Windows booted up normally. I saw a bunch of ^@^@^@ but they stopped appearing after 9 hours so I ended it.

Posted 6 years ago
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LH
Posts: 20002

9 hours is very quick for DBAN, how big is the hard drive ?

Posted 6 years ago
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scrabbler1
Posts: 19

It is a 30GB hard drive. BTW, I aborted the process after 9 hours; it had stalled and did not appear to complete.

Posted 6 years ago
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scrabbler1
Posts: 19

(I hit "accept answer" by mistake. This remains an open issue.

Posted 6 years ago
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mfletch
Posts: 1434

Open IE click Tools>Internet options>Connections>LAN settings

Untick use proxy server

Apply

How is it now

Posted 6 years ago
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scrabbler1
Posts: 19

That box was already unchecked. However, in that same window, just above in the "Automatic Configuration" section, the first box (Automatically detect settings) was checked. I unchecked that and rebooted the system. (I wanted to merely close the browser and restart it, but by then 54 browsers had opened up and locked up the system.)

Amazingly, the windowbomb has stopped, at least for now. Could this little box being checked have caused this horrible thing for the last few months?

Posted 6 years ago
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mfletch
Posts: 1434

Download this {sorry LH I only have direct download}

Rkill download http://download.bleepingcomput...../rkill.exe

If the first one don’t work try the others.

http://download.bleepingcomput...../rkill.pif

http://download.bleepingcomput...../rkill.scr

http://download.bleepingcomput...../rkill.com

Run Rkill then run update Malwarebytes and do a scan on ALL drives

Posted 6 years ago
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scrabbler1
Posts: 19

I spoke too soon. The windowbomb remains.

Posted 6 years ago
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scrabbler1
Posts: 19

I ran 3 of the 4 rkills, as I received a "page not found" message when trying to download the .pif one. They terminated no malware processes.

I should point out that I have not connected that system to the internet sinde the latest Windows reinstall. The windowbomb began only after installing the operating system (with the "make an internet connection" screen appearing and not being able to be terminated) and with the multiple browsers themselves appearing after I installed all the drivers. I have used the same CDs to successfully install Windows (XP-Home) on two different PCs so the problem is not with the CDs themselves. I also used different CDs to install Windows XP-Pro on teh same system and the windowbomb returned.

In early July, shortly after the windowbomb began, and after one of the reinstalls, I ran Malwarebytes and it found nothing. Same for Spybot and Symantec. Is there a virus or spyware hiding on the HD which escapes detection from these 3 usually effective pieces of software and also escapes being deleted after reformatting the HD multiple times?

I also reflashed the BIOS in early August but that did not make the windowbomb disappear. In the geekstogo forum, I was advised to run a bunch of other things such as Combofix but nothing helped.

So, is there another setting such as the one I changed earlier today which needs to be changed in order for the system to stop trying to create an internet connection and open web browsers all the time? Or do I need to replace the HD itself despite having had it replaced last December? I don't want to go to the expense (not a huge one) of replacing the HD again only to discover that it was something else (hardware?) which was causing the windowbomb.

Posted 6 years ago
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marks100
Posts: 4507

have you tried to upgrade/downgrade your internet ex ? what edition 6-7-8, and remove ff, see what happens it may work perhaps its a setting in your browser, or reset to default .

Posted 6 years ago
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mfletch
Posts: 1434

Not sure what to suggest but try updating to IE8

Or join this site and let a malware expert look at some logs etc

http://z3.invisionfree.com/virusvault/index.php?

Posted 6 years ago
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scrabbler1
Posts: 19

I am using IE6 but remember, the first sign of the windowbomb problem is seen after the OS is installed, before any IE browsers actually work. Also, the first time this happened in late June, I tried switching to Firefox but that browser opened multiple times the same way IE did.

If the problem is the HD, shouldn't it be covered under some kind of warranty? The date on the label of the HD is 11/2009.

Posted 6 years ago
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germ-x
Posts: 5310

by chance have you loaded weatherbug? If so here is a fix for IE
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/812942

EDIT: model of system, please.
After you do your clean install what else do you install before it starts the flashcard effect

Posted 6 years ago
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scrabbler1
Posts: 19

There is no weatherbug on the system. The system is a Gateway 400 (laptop) notebook.

All I install is the Windows XP-Home operating system and the drivers off the Gateway restoration CDs, the same CDs I used to reinstall Windows on two other systems. The laptop has its own keyboard and touchpad mouse, features whose drivers are installed off the CDs even though they are not installed when I installed XP from the CDs onto other desktop systems. Back in July, I disabled the mouse and keyboard and plugged in external versions of them but that did not stop the windowbomb.

Posted 6 years ago
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hatryst
Posts: 3482

Did you double-click any hard drive partition after the fresh install?

Posted 6 years ago
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scrabbler1
Posts: 19

The latest install of the OS took place several weeks ago, so I don't remember what I did regarding partitioning. I recall this issue (partitioning) arising in some of the many reinstalls I did since late June. I did not ask for any partitioning, unlike one time 3 years ago on this laptop when there was partitioning because there was a question upon reboot as to which OS I wanted to use - a previous, corrupted one, or the one I had just installed. That question did not appear this time so I am assuming there was no partitioning. Is there a way I can confirm this?

Posted 6 years ago
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hatryst
Posts: 3482

Sometimes when you do a fresh re-install (because your computer was screwed up by a virus), apparently the virus is gone, but it isn't. It is in the other partitions. When you double click to open any partition (say, you opened the D:\ drive by double clicking it), the virus activates again. That's why I asked the question...

But the previous posts show that there isn't any virus on your computer. Thats fine.

Question: Do you have any HOTKEYS on the keyboard? If yes, is there one for INTERNET?

Posted 6 years ago
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scrabbler1
Posts: 19

Interesting comment about how a virus can hide in one partition and not die even when an OS is reinstalled.

As for hot keys, the laptop has one for opening up a web browser. It is done by pressing the Windows key and the "E" key at the same time, and this is unique to the laptop's built-in keyboard (which would explain why the desktops I used the same CDs for did not have this problem). Could there be a way this is being triggered endlessly? I did a little research and saw that this is embedded in the registry.

I am interested in exploring this possibility further. Please tell me more.

Posted 6 years ago
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hatryst
Posts: 3482

It happens. I've experienced it. The virus was in all the partitions (and i wasn't geeky at that time) so i formatted the C drive and reinstalled windows. And when i double clicked to open the other partition, the virus was activated again. It was dead in that partition (and i rought it to life !). Although, if an immediate virus scan was carried out after reinstalling windows (and not opening any drives by double clicking), the problem wouldn't have taken place...
It is due to an autorun file (specially hidden by the virus in hard drive partitions) and when you double click the hard drive, it gets executed, again... Thats what i concluded from that...
But scrabbler1, in your case, you have formatted the entire hard drive with dban, no virus would've survived that...

Posted 6 years ago
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scrabbler1
Posts: 19

Thank you.

Based on how I described my recent reloads of Windows versus the one I did 3 years ago (which produced a choice of Windows to choose from when I booted up the system), is it fair to say that I do not have any partitioning this time?

I do not believe I actually successfully used DBAN to erase the HD. I ran it once or twice, neither time completing, with the last time having it take 9 hours only to not actually prevent Windows from starting up when I rebooted the system. I did use other HD erasure programs to erase the HD. One of them was from the HD's maker, Western Digital (via Gateway), which did complete successfully. The other was HDDerase from UCSD.

Back to the HotKeys. Should I mess with the registry to try to disable the HotKey which applies to an Internet Browser window opening? I saw instructions for that in the Microsoft website.

Posted 6 years ago
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germ-x
Posts: 5310

Have you looked in your BIOS to see if there is an option for hotkeys?
You could have some sticky keys causing this problem since you say you have reloaded Windows several times and without doing anything this problem starts back up. My first thought is some junk file in your windows XP CD disk but you say you have used it successfully without any problem.
Look in your manual to see how to disable them. This is and isn't a windows XP hotkey. One site show it and the other doesn't
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/301583
http://www.croportal.net/forum.....keys-1669/
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/301583
http://www.pctools.com/guides/
Rt click on IE properties and in the shortcut tab look and see if there is a shortcut key listed, if so try and delete it.
One other thing is when you set up your keyboard during Windows installation. If incorrect it will setup your keyboard differently.

EDIT: There seems to be some difference about the hotkeys as mentioned above. This site again lists the Win +E key as the hotkey for "Open my Computer"
http://www.intelliadmin.com/in.....s-hotkeys/

Posted 6 years ago
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scrabbler1
Posts: 19

Slight change from my previous answers, and some answers to your last questions.

BIOS had no option for the hotkeys.

My mistake about the presence of hotkeys as I had described. First, the Windows+E opens up Windows Explorer, not Internet Explorer. Then, there is actually a single hotkey on the keyboard which opens up Internet Explorer.

Your instructions as to how to delete a hotkey did not apply to my system. When I go to Control Panel and Rt-click on Internet options, I so not see a Shortcut tab or Shortcut option. I am using XP-Home.

I don't do a setup of the keyboard because it is part of the laptap itself, not something external I plug in.

The manual has nothing about how to disable any of the "multi-function buttons," as they are called.

Posted 6 years ago
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scrabbler1
Posts: 19

Good news! After some searching, I found the way to solve this annoying problem. It was really quick and simple.

http://windowsxp.mvps.org/ikey.htm

Modifying the behavior of "internet" key in Internet keyboards
Published: Sep 12, 2005
Introduction
Internet Keyboards helps you access the Internet (web browser) and e-mail with the touch of a button. There are situations where you may want to disable this key, or alter its behavior.

Disabling the "internet" key
Start Regedit.exe and navigate to the following location:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ AppKey \ 7

In the right-pane, double-click Association
Set it's data to a null string "" (the default is "http")
Close Regedit.exe

Accepted Answer · Posted 6 years ago
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hatryst
Posts: 3482

That's great :)
Already guessed that it could be a hotkey accidentally pressed !
Keep in touch with HTG :)

Posted 6 years ago
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