Homepage hijackers are an effect caused by some toolbar programs, Trojans or malware. The hostile application changes the default homepage of Internet Explorer to something undesired and does not allow the user to set the homepage.
Below are several tools which can be used to find and remove malware that causes the effect. Presented here is also a manual step-by-step method of removing more persistent homepage hijackers. Please reboot the machine after each step before checking if the removal was successful.
Spyware / Trojan removal tools: Spybot - Search & Destroy can detect and remove spyware of different kinds from your computer. Spyware is a relatively new kind of threat that common anti-virus applications do not yet cover. If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you didn't intentionally install, if your browser crashes, or if you browser start page has changed without your knowing, you most probably have spyware.
CWShredder - A general homepage hijackers detector and remover. Initially based on the article Hijacked!, but expanded with almost a dozen other checks against hijacker tricks. It is continually updated to detect and remove new hijacks.
AVG antiVirus - An AntiVirus tool which also deals with some hijackers.
If a persistent hijacker is not removed by the tools listed above, manual removal should be used.
To Remove "About:Blank" Hijacker AdWare in Windows XP Home edition Service Pack 1 with Internet Explorer 6.0 (probably works in NT and 2000 with some directory name changes only) follow this procedure:
* Microsoft Recovery Console (an application available on your Windows installation disc). To access the recovery console run the following command: D:\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons
(Where D should be replaces with the CD driveletter)
There are two application extensions (.dll) files that Need to be deleted. One is hidden (thanks Akadia!), one is detected with "HiJackThis.exe"
1) With "Reglite.exe" find name of hidden file:
Double Click on "AppInit_DLLs" located in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows\\ The "value" window reveals the hidden file name. (mine was "hlpl.dll", yours may be different!)
In this example we'll call it "hidden.dll"
Browse to the file, right click it, select Properties. Under the General tab, uncheck Hidden and Read-Only. Select the Security tab and Check the 'Full control' check box to allow deleting it.
Try deleting the file (Shift + Del or right click and Delete) If it was impossible to delete the file, continue to step 2. Otherwise skip to step 3.
2) Rename the hidden file:
Close Windows and reboot using "Windows Recovery Console". Browse to the system32 directory located at: C:\Windows\system32\. Replace this path with your system32 directory. In order to know your system32 run cmd and type: echo %WINDIR%\System32
After finding your system32 directory do the following:
a) Change file from read only by typing attrib -r hidden.dll
b) Rename the file (For some reason this only works after rename) type: rename hidden.dll nasty.dll (and remember that "hidden.dll" is for this explanation only use the name you found earlier)
c) Type "exit" and reboot to Windows.
3) Edit registry to remove hidden file:
Run "reglite.exe" again.
Double Click on "AppInit_DLLs" located in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows\\. Delete the file in "value" window, the "size" window changes also. "Apply" changes and exit "reglite.exe"
4) Edit registry to remove the second file:
Run HiJackThis.exe and scan the registry.
Check the boxes to remove the following entries:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar =
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page =
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant =
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar =
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page =
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant =
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,HomeOldSP =
(as you can see the second .dll in the example was called "jheckb.dll" yours may be different)
For this example let's call it "obvious.dll".
* Note: As there are MANY variations to this hijacker, the registry entries might differ from the ones listed above. If the entries are different, look for entries containing the name of the second DLL, in this example jheckb.dll.
Finally delete the two .dlls ("hidden.dll" and "obvious.dll").
That's it! You should be running again.
Another Manual Method:
If the top method failed to work (you could not locate the hidden .dll for example), try the following method suggested by NWG:
1. Open HijackThis
2. Click Config
3.Check the: 'Mark everything found for fixing after scan' option.
4. Click Back
5. Click Scan
6. Click Fix checked
1. Click Config
2. Click Misc Tools
3. OPEN ADS SPY.
4. Click Scan (this will find all hidden files that you will not see in the explorer)
5. Select all items (this has to me done manually)
6. CLICK REMOVE SELECTED
Restart the machine, the machine should start brand new.
By the way, if you go offline with Internet Explorer and type OK to these nasty adware windows you will see the guys who benefit from this hijacker. Time2Early found:
www.vn.msie.cc (the real web page)
They seem to be selling AdWare/Spyware protection...