Apparent drive-by infection with odd symptoms

By Zaarin ยท 14 replies
Jun 11, 2010
  1. I think my system was infected with 'something' - no idea what - via a rogue ad on a legitimate website a few days ago. I'll describe the symptoms first, and then go on to how they have (at least on the surface) been solved. This isn't so much a post asking "how do I clean my system" so much as "to what extent have I cleaned my system" (or as near as you can ever be to knowing something along those lines). The problem no longer has any noticeable symptoms, but obviously I'd appreciate any advice/information on what the problem may have been and anything further I should do.

    OS was at this point Win XP SP2 (I'd been lax about updating for a long time - I've since installed SP3 and some other updates).

    The relevant visit to this otherwise legit site somehow resulted in (a) a popup/plugin install warning of some kind from Firefox, and (b) the opening via Foxit of a pdf file entitled "img.jpg.pdf" or something very like that. My current AV program (Avira) didn't notice anything. Following this I was able to close Firefox and then reopen it and use the browser as normal one more time.

    After this, the one overt symptom of the problem started: neither of my browsers (Firefox and IE, the latter of which I use less often) would open. When I attempted to open IE, it would appear in the Task Manager processes list for a fraction of a second and then disappear, if even that. Firefox, on the other hand, would appear in the processes list when executed and would stay there indefinitely until killed, listing about 17MB of RAM usage, but no browser window would ever appear. This behaviour kept going through several reboots.

    This was purely a problem with the browser programs themselves - there was no connectivity or networking problem, and my email client etc. kept working throughout.

    An uninstall and reinstall of Firefox managed to get that browser working again sporadically - sometimes it would open and on other attempts it wouldn't. After trying to find information on similar problems, I then managed to download MalwareBytes and run it - this found several supposed bits of malware and removed them. Following this, both my browsers were functional again and there were no longer any overt symptoms of infection.

    Since then I've followed the 8-step instructions from this forum, including rerunning MalwareBytes again. In so far as I understand the logs (which isn't much!), everything appears clean.

    I did have one problem during the process - GMER, when run both with and without 'Devices' ticked, caused a spontaneous reboot part-way through the scan each time I tried to run it; eventually I rebooted into Safe Mode and ran a successful GMER scan there. As I result of this I ended up running DDS before finally getting GMER to run in Safe Mode - let me know if this is a problem.

    I've attached both MalwareBytes logs (the first run that solved the browser-opening problem and the second run during the 8-step procedure), as well as the GMER and DDS ones.

    Any advice about anything further I can/should do would be much appreciated.

    Purely as an observation, it seems like a very strange piece (or pieces) of malware - what on earth would be the point of disabling a user's browsers? It's an extremely overt way to announce the presence of an infection, and doesn't seem to have any logic to it.

    Attached Files:

  2. Broni

    Broni Malware Annihilator Posts: 54,260   +383

    You have Norton's leftovers.
    Please, run Norton Removal Tool:

    Then, you have two firewalls, ZA and Online Armor.
    I'm not sure, which one your current one, but one of them has to go.

    When done with the above...

    Please download ComboFix from Here or Here to your Desktop.

    **Note: In the event you already have Combofix, this is a new version that I need you to download. It is important that it is saved directly to your desktop**
    1. Please, never rename Combofix unless instructed.
    2. Close any open browsers.
    3. Close/disable all anti virus and anti malware programs so they do not interfere with the running of ComboFix.
      • Very Important! Temporarily disable your anti-virus, script blocking and any anti-malware real-time protection before performing a scan. They can interfere with ComboFix or remove some of its embedded files which may cause "unpredictable results".
      • Click on this link to see a list of programs that should be disabled. The list is not all inclusive. If yours is not listed and you don't know how to disable it, please ask.
      NOTE1. If Combofix asks you to install Recovery Console, please allow it.
      NOTE 2. If Combofix asks you to update the program, always do so.
      • Close any open browsers.
      • WARNING: Combofix will disconnect your machine from the Internet as soon as it starts
      • Please do not attempt to re-connect your machine back to the Internet until Combofix has completely finished.
      • If there is no internet connection after running Combofix, then restart your computer to restore back your connection.
    4. Double click on combofix.exe & follow the prompts.
    5. When finished, it will produce a report for you.
    6. Please post the "C:\ComboFix.txt"
    **Note: Do not mouseclick combofix's window while it's running. That may cause it to stall**

    Make sure, you re-enable your security programs, when you're done with Combofix.

    DO NOT make any other changes to your computer (like installing programs, using other cleaning tools, etc.), until it's officially declared clean!!!
  3. Zaarin

    Zaarin TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the reply.

    I've followed your instructions:

    1. I have run the Norton removal tool (the Norton stuff came pre-installed on this system - I (semi)-'removed' it years ago).

    2. Uninstalled Zone Alarm (I stopped using it long ago in favour of OA, but never uninstalled; its processes haven't visibly been running).

    3. Ran ComboFix. I disabled my AV's real-time function before running, but left my firewall on until the downloading of the Recovery program was done (unplugged from my router and disabled the firewall before the scan actually started) - during the pre-scan period three different programs asked for outgoing access. One was ComboFix_download.exe or similar; the other two had random names but seemed to be associated with CF. I passed them all. I take it this is OK?

    ComboFix log is attached.

    Attached Files:

  4. Broni

    Broni Malware Annihilator Posts: 54,260   +383

    You did very well :)
    Let me review your Combofix log...
  5. Broni

    Broni Malware Annihilator Posts: 54,260   +383

    1. Please open Notepad
    • Click Start , then Run
    • Type notepad .exe in the Run Box.

    2. Now copy/paste the entire content of the codebox below into the Notepad window:

    [HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-259433606-2375481292-4099875242-1006\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Shell Extensions\Approved\{B3B93911-EAB8-30A1-1D2D-DFC921AC5305}*]
    [HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-259433606-2375481292-4099875242-1006\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Shell Extensions\Approved\{F0FCD015-BAD5-C821-A20C-473D1A4E321F}*]

    3. Save the above as CFScript.txt

    4. Then drag the CFScript.txt into ComboFix.exe as depicted in the animation below. This will start ComboFix again.


    5. After reboot, (in case it asks to reboot), please post the following reports/logs into your next reply:
    • Combofix.txt
  6. Zaarin

    Zaarin TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for your reply (that was very quick!)

    I've followed your instructions. The new ComboFix log is attached. CF did not reboot this time (I rebooted manually afterwards anyway).

    One further thing: my previous reply was made after the first reboot when I ran CF (i.e. the reboot which ComboFix itself initiated). After making my post, I rebooted manually again. Following that second reboot, my system hung at a partially-loaded desktop (the full desktop was visible, but only the 'power options' and 'security centre' icons had appeared in the system tray). At this point everything stopped, and only mouse movement registered. Nothing else whatsoever responded. I had to manually power off. I don't think I've had a hang-up like that on this system before - something to do with CF? Everything was fine on the next boot.

    Attached Files:

  7. Broni

    Broni Malware Annihilator Posts: 54,260   +383

    I really wouldn't worry about it. While removing an infection, hiccups may happen.

    Uninstall Combofix:
    Go Start > Run [Vista users, go Start>"Start search"]
    Type in:
    Combofix /Uninstall
    Note the space between the "Combofix" and the "/Uninstall"
    Click OK (Vista users - press Enter).
    Restart computer.


    Download OTL to your Desktop.

    * Double click on the icon to run it. Make sure all other windows are closed and to let it run uninterrupted.
    * Under the Custom Scan box paste this in:

    %systemroot%\*. /mp /s
    %systemroot%\system32\*.dll /lockedfiles
    %systemroot%\Tasks\*.job /lockedfiles
    %systemroot%\system32\drivers\*.sys /lockedfiles

    * Click the Quick Scan button. Do not change any settings unless otherwise told to do so. The scan wont take long.
    • When the scan completes, it will open two notepad windows: OTL.txt and Extras.txt. These are saved in the same location as OTL.
    • Please copy (Edit->Select All, Edit->Copy) the contents of these files, one at a time, and post them back here.
  8. Zaarin

    Zaarin TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The two OTL logs are attached. I couldn't copy them into the post directly as the forum tells me it exceeds the character limit.

    Attached Files:

  9. Broni

    Broni Malware Annihilator Posts: 54,260   +383

    Run OTL
    • Under the Custom Scans/Fixes box at the bottom, paste in the following

      O3 - HKCU\..\Toolbar\WebBrowser: (no name) - {42CDD1BF-3FFB-4238-8AD1-7859DF00B1D6} - No CLSID value found.
      O16 - DPF: {02BF25D5-8C17-4B23-BC80-D3488ABDDC00} (Reg Error: Key error.)
      O16 - DPF: {1F2F4C9E-6F09-47BC-970D-3C54734667FE} (Reg Error: Key error.)
      O16 - DPF: {33564D57-0000-0010-8000-00AA00389B71} (Reg Error: Key error.)
      O16 - DPF: {8FFBE65D-2C9C-4669-84BD-5829DC0B603C} (Reg Error: Key error.)
      [2007/11/21 01:34:15 | 000,000,000 | ---D | M] -- C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Viewpoint
      [2007/11/21 01:34:18 | 000,000,000 | ---D | M] -- C:\Documents and Settings\Zaarin\Application Data\Viewpoint
      @Alternate Data Stream - 108 bytes -> C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\TEMP:A2C6D38F
    • Then click the Run Fix button at the top
    • Let the program run unhindered, reboot the PC when it is done
    • You will get a log that shows the results of the fix. Please post it.
    • Open OTL again and click the Quick Scan button. Post the log it produces in your next reply.
  10. Zaarin

    Zaarin TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Both new logs attached.

    Attached Files:

  11. Broni

    Broni Malware Annihilator Posts: 54,260   +383

    Good :)

    1. Download Temp File Cleaner (TFC)
    Double click on TFC.exe to run the program.
    Click on Start button to begin cleaning process.
    TFC will close all running programs, and it may ask you to restart computer.

    2. Go to Kaspersky website and perform an online antivirus scan.

    1. Disable your active antivirus program.
    2. Read through the requirements and privacy statement and click on Accept button.
    3. It will start downloading and installing the scanner and virus definitions. You will be prompted to install an application from Kaspersky. Click Run.
    4. When the downloads have finished, click on Settings.
    5. Make sure these boxes are checked (ticked). If they are not, please tick them and click on the Save button:

    • Spyware, Adware, Dialers, and other potentially dangerous programs
      [*] Archives
      [*] Mail databases
    6. Click on My Computer under Scan.
    7. Once the scan is complete, it will display the results. Click on View Scan Report.
    8. You will see a list of infected items there. Click on Save Report As....
    9. Save this report to a convenient place. Change the Files of type to Text file (.txt) before clicking on the Save button. Then post it here.
  12. Zaarin

    Zaarin TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Finally, after more than 8 hours of scanning, the Kaspersky log.

    Attached Files:

  13. Broni

    Broni Malware Annihilator Posts: 54,260   +383

    Since we're dealing with one bad file here, please remove it mnually:
    - C:\Practical\Computing\Media\Editors\Mp3 Splitter\mp3splitter.exe
    Make sure to empty recycle bin afterward.


    OTL Clean-Up
    Clean up with OTL:

    * Double-click OTL.exe to start the program.
    * Close all other programs apart from OTL as this step will require a reboot
    * On the OTL main screen, press the CLEANUP button
    * Say Yes to the prompt and then allow the program to reboot your computer.

    If you still have any tools or logs leftover on your computer you can go ahead and delete those off of your computer now.


    Your computer is clean [​IMG]

    1. We need to reset system restore to prevent your computer from being accidentally reinfected by using some old restore point(s). We'll create fresh, clean restore point.

    Turn off System Restore:

    - Windows XP:
    1. Click Start.
    2. Right-click the My Computer icon, and then click Properties.
    3. Click the System Restore tab.
    4. Check "Turn off System Restore".
    5. Click Apply.
    6. When turning off System Restore, the existing restore points will be deleted. Click Yes to do this.
    7. Click OK.
    - Windows Vista and 7:
    1. Click Start.
    2. Right-click the Computer icon, and then click Properties.
    3. Click on System Protection under the Tasks column on the left side
    4. Click on Continue on the "User Account Control" window that pops up
    5. Under the System Protection tab, find Available Disks
    6. Uncheck the box for any drive you wish to disable system restore on (in most cases, drive "C:")
    7. When turning off System Restore, the existing restore points will be deleted. Click "Turn System Restore Off" on the popup window to do this.
    8. Click OK

    2. Restart computer.

    3. Turn System Restore on.

    4. Make sure, Windows Updates are current.

    5. If any Trojan was listed among your infection(s), make sure, you change all of your on-line important passwords (bank account(s), secured web sites, etc.) immediately!

    6. Download, and install WOT (Web OF Trust): It'll warn you (in most cases) about dangerous web sites.

    7. Run defrag at your convenience.

    8. Read How did I get infected?, With steps so it does not happen again!:

    9. Please, let me know, how is your computer doing.
  14. Zaarin

    Zaarin TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I've followed your steps, dealt with System Restore etc.

    Thanks very much for your help, Broni. I really do appreciate someone knowledgeable giving up their time in the boring task of helping the inexperienced like myself. Many thanks.

    About that .exe that Kaspersky detected, and which I deleted manually - I'm not sure I've ever run it. I do recall downloading a number of MP3-spitting programs a couple of years ago, but that one is not one I think I ever used (certainly not the one I ended up using) and I had completely forgotten about its presence. The .exe was an installer, and I don't think I ever installed that program. It certainly can't be related to the infection that initially sparked this thread, as if it was ever executed it must have been a very long time ago.
  15. Broni

    Broni Malware Annihilator Posts: 54,260   +383

    Way to go!! [​IMG]
    Good luck and stay safe :)
Topic Status:
Not open for further replies.

Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...