How do we get infected computers? Most attacks are thwarted easily, but if you snooze, the bad guys are waiting to pounce. That happened to me recently. A lapse in my attention span got me an infection of the Incredibar hijacker and adware provider. If you have not seen this one, consider this description from Spybot Search & Destroy:
- Incredibar is an adware toolbar that gets installed along other software.
- It shows advertising within Internet Explorer and Firefox and changes the default search engine and startpage.
- Even uninstall does not revert changes to search engine and startpage.
- The Firefox addon installs without a request and does not uninstall with the Windows uninstaller and remains fully functional.
It also causes other difficulties.
The process of cleaning is not difficult, but I made it worse by stubbornly trying to do it on my own. Help is available.
The adventure started when I was given an older Dell laptop with XP and not much else. I wanted to convert it to a working spare, but I did not check the anti-virus software situation until after I had downloaded several useful things. After I deleted an old copy of Norton and installed MSE and Malwarebytes, the damage had already been done. IE, Firefox, and Chrome were installed. I used Firefox for downloading most things. That is critical because it and Chrome were contaminated, but IE was clean. I had only used IE to download Firefox.
Initial symptoms were a novel home page and a strange search engine as default. Other bad things happened. The infection had to be removed. Not to fear: I had conquered the Babylon Toolbar and posted an account of my struggles with it. Based on what I learned then, I first tried to uninstall anything that looked like Incredibar. Then I searched through the registry and manually deleted all references to it. Then I was ready to fix Firefox. Since my bookmarks were synched with another computer, without pain I uninstalled it — remembering to click the box that said to delete personal preferences, also! (Fail to do that and, when Firefox is re-installed, you will be surprised.) With a flourish, I downloaded Firefox via IE and it installed clean! Wow, I was a hero. Then it was time to do the same with Chrome. Oops, no good.
I searched online for Incredibar. It has too many references to rate them. This is one I used. Do not click any site promising to help you clean this infection unless you have WOT or the equivalent installed. Several sites have red warnings. Bad guys will try to pull a double scam. Searching showed me what caused my initial failure to eliminate the pest. You must also uninstall “IB Installer.” A few minutes of research would have saved sweat.
There are many YouTube videos, but several of them have annoying audio tracks (why do people do that?). This one seems reasonable.
Cleaning Firefox as described in the link above includes making a promise to be careful. To clean Chrome, and this is not always described accurately, you must follow the instructions, but also click on the icon that looks like three bars. Click on Settings. In On startup, click Set Pages. If Incredibar or any variation is present, drag it to the trash can. Failure to follow this step makes all for naught.
After I got things fixed, I found this on Bleeping Computer:
- Close all open programs and Internet browsers.
- Double click on adwcleaner.exe to run the tool.
- Click on Delete.
- Confirm each time with OK.
- You will be prompted to restart your computer. A text file will open after the restart.
- Please post the contents of that logfile with your next reply.
- You can find the logfile at C:\AdwCleaner[S1].txt as well.
I have not tried this fix, but Bleeping Computer is reliable. If you have used this or had any other issues with Incredibar, please share.
Image: Warning by karl.herler via Flickr