By Ian Maddox
As much as we think we know about Windows and the Internet, there are still surprises out there awaiting us. This week, our readers reveal little-known tricks to restore lost Internet connectivity, eliminate Internet Explorer pests, and avoid the latest brand of phishing attacks.
Scott Rissinger writes in with this tale of malware removal gone wrong:
- “I just found a Windows problem I wanted to share with your readers. This has happened twice recently while working on two different computers.
"Both systems had multiple spyware issues on XP SP2. After I downloaded and ran MS AntiSpyware, removed all threats, and rebooted, I got a “limited or no connectivity” error on one system. On the other, I could not connect at all.
"I could not see how the spyware program would do this, so I ran a virus scan, tried to repair the errors with a boot CD, and started in Safe Mode with Networking, to no avail.
“On a whim, I downloaded and ran WinsockXPfix.exe, and it worked on both machines. Still not sure how anti-spyware messed up TCP/IP, other than removing files marked as threats. I was to the point of reloading both machines and losing all data, but this fix worked. Hope it helps some others pulling their hair out over connectivity issues.”
All too often, antispyware and antivirus tools remove such malware imperfectly. Sometimes, this means deleting Registry keys and files that the hacker created to tap into your communications. Doing so ham-handedly can break your networking connection. The utility mentioned by reader Rissinger is designed to find these broken links and rejoin them, as if the malware had never been there.
If you find yourself in this position after removing a PC threat, download WinsockXPfix.exe from SnapFiles or some other software site. If your connection is down and your PC has no means of downloading files, you might have to actually restore the disabled malware from quarantine or use a Windows XP restore point to return your machine to its previous, infected state before removing the malware. Then, download the utility, remove the malware, and run the tool to restore your connection