Remove advert banner from Google Chrome home page

Recent data suggests that for the first time in History of Browser wars, Google Chrome has overtaken Internet Explorer to become the most widely used browser. The second place is now held by IE and Mozilla Firefox inching behind. Source: StatCounter.

From a personal note, I think Chrome is fast, but not as safe as Firefox. It beats IE for sure and it beats Firefox in speed and usability as well. I used to be a Firefox user but since Firefox has gone in a update frenzy since last year, other developers that provide extensions have not been able to keep up and had rendered Firefox useless for more advanced users.

Getting back to the topicRemove porn/ advert banner from Google Chrome home page.

Recently I came across a machine that had Chrome installed. On its home page, which was just plain Google, was a porn banner advertisement. How did it get there? was that a browser hijack?

I am not sure if that was a browser redirection hijack as the search results seemed fine. Anyhow, I had to get rid of it. So I started digging around the Chrome extensions and the apps that were installed. I did not find anything in there. So I looked into installed programs and did not find anything fishy in there as well. Finally I ran MS Autoruns tool to see running programs, services and registry entries. I did not find anything in there as well.

Solution:

  • So finally I just uninstalled Chrome, deleted the Chrome Application Data folder from the User account, (C:\User\UserName\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\) restarted the machine and then re-installed Chrome. That fixed it. This file structure is on a Windows 7 machine. Win xp will have a different file structure for AppData.
  • If that does not fix the problem, of if the problem reoccurs, then you have yourself a honey pot! There are extensions on Chrome web store, which includes free games like Angry Birds or Mario Bros and utility tools like Screen Capture. One of those free apps that you downloaded and installed has malicious code build in for the banner advert. So delete the free apps and games one by one and see removing which one fixes the problem. Once you find the rogue app. report it to Chrome development team. Although they don’t make that stuff, but they are still launching from their web store.

 

HP Officejet 4500 All-in-One Printer Series – G510 driver installation problems

Recently I was working on installing a HP Officejet 4500 All-in-One Printer Series – G510 for a customer of mine. She had purchased the all in one HP printer on my recommendation, as I had believed that HP makes good printers and all in one devices. However, my this particular experience will make my think twice before recommending another all in one HP device to another customer.

Install Problems:

This was a network (Ethernet) enabled all in one model. So I had connected the printer to the Linksys home router and assigned it a static IP, from the DHCP range that I had configured in the router. Next I ran the setup.ext that came with the printer and selected full install. During the install process, I selected the device as an Ethernet connected and the HP installing detected the printer on the network on its own. So all looked good and the installation finished successfully. I did a reboot to the computer after the installation was complete and then did a test print. And it printed fine. However, when I tried to open the HP all in one console for trying out other features, such as Scan and Copy, the software gave an error saying that the installation is incomplete!! And that I should re-install the software to try and fix the problem.

Attempt to Fix:

I looked around for answers on Google and HP support forums, but all I found was other frustrated people trying to install the same all in one device correctly. So I thought may be the drivers are old and Win 7 may be needing the latest drivers. So with my tech. mind, I downloaded the latest, full driver and software package from HP support site. Uninstalled the software in full and deleted the HP directory from Program Files folder. Did a restart and then tried to install everything fresh again, using the latest drivers and software package that I had downloaded from HP. So I followed the same procedure – installed the full drivers and software package. When the install wizard asked me how I was connected to the printer, I selected network and it went out and successfully detected the printer on the network. The installation completed successfully and rebooted the computer once again. To my surprise and frustration, the same problem happened again. The all in one device would print, but if I tried to launch the software to try out other features such as scan and copy, I would get an error saying that the installation did not complete successfully.

Solution:

After trying out few more things and more failed attempts, I decided to connect the device via a USB cable and attempt to do a fresh install again. So once again, I uninstalled the drivers and software, rebooted the machine, deleted the HP directory from the Program Files folder and tried to install the all in one device again using USB cable.  Behold, it worked! So clearly, there is something wrong with the install package that HP has provided. It does not install properly when the printer is connected via Ethernet cable. And the troubling part is, despite lots of people talking about it on their forum, HP is turning a blind eye to the problem.

SocialMe on Facebook INFECTED

SocialMe on Facebook, exploited with Trojan Virus and Scare Ware –

SocialMe is a small app. on Facebook that lets users see other users SocailMe profile, pics and tag them as they please. The more tags and comments you receive, the more your virtual score increases. It lets people get attention and socialize in a virtual way, which is good.

The bad part – the application is exploited. I discovered this sometime at the beginning of 09, while I was browsing through SocailMe profiles, Firefox blanked out and asked to close the browser as it had detected an intrusion. After that incident, smelling something fishy on SocialMe/ Facebook, I decided to replicate the problem. For security, I installed McAfee Enterprize edition with firewall on my system and went back to browsing on SocialMe. And to focus on my target, I just had Facebook with SocaiMe open. And I used a brand new Windows installed system that had been patched and shielded with latest updates and detection rules.

Surely enough, after an hour of so of browsing on SocialMe, Firefox detected an intrusion and asked me to close, while McAfee displayed a message saying that it had detected and deleted an infection. A Trojan Virus. I left Firefox window open, and McAfee continued to detect and delete the same Virus over and over again.

Report the incident to Facebook help – I reported the incident to SocialMe development team and also in Facebook feedback under help section. I did not hear from SocialMe at all, but Facebook did reply back to me saying that I had to contact the developer of the application as Facebook did not support any third party applications. In other words, Facebook washed their hands off from policing any rogue application that is using their site as a launch pad to spread malicious software? Weird for a big guy like Facebook to shrug the responsibility off from their shoulders, when they have ample resources to stop their site from being exploited and abused. Of course it is not them, but it is someone that is using their site as a launch pad to spread malicious software. If a hacker exploits my site and uses it for malicious intent, it becomes my moral and professional responsibility to clean up and NOT allow that application in again. But I am sure, they have a clause somewhere in the agreement which says that they are not responsible for any damage caused by other third party applications on Facebook. Easy, so now Facebook does not have to police these application that are launched from their site.

Third Attack – After few months of not using SocialMe, I went back to using it again, hoping that they might have fixed the issue. NO, I was so wrong. This time my laptop got infected even though McAfee claimed that it had deleted the Trojan Virus and had cleaned the infection. However, it was a little too tale. This version of the Virus had already become resident to my system and was now replicating itself in any thumb drive that I inserted in my system. My system crashed trying to rid itself of the virus, and I had to reinstall Windows, and format all my drives.

Solution – STOP using SocailMe. Since Facebook is going to leave you in the wet and not take any action against SocailMe, you got to take your own cover. Even if you subscribe to LifeLock or another identity theft protection company, I’d still avoid using SocialMe. I make this suggestion because Trojan Viruses can do more than just help thieves steal your identity; they can also get into your computer and really mess things up for you. Moral: stay away from SocialMe!

It makes my wonder how many such “third party” rouge applications are exploiting good sites like Facebook, Orkut and MySpace? The industry got to change their attitude towards these third party applications, else they will continue to take shelter under these big trees, and keep spreading their nasty poison.

How safe are AOL users?

How safe are AOL users? this is a good question which is mostly ignored. I will try and throw some light on it and may be some people will come to light as to what this big company is doing..

Recently I was called for an onsite service call at a residence. The issue was that they had just purchased a wireless router [Linksys G series] and they were not able to make it work with their laptop. And another issue was that their desktop would not connect to AOL if they wired it to the router. So they wanted me to configure it right.

I have never been a fan of AOL, as they put craf on your PC. Being a tech I know that and there are tools that you can download for free to see how infected your computer software is.

Anyways, I go there and refresh the power on the cable modem and the router and it seems to work. So I wire it up to the PC to see if Internet works. Yes it did. So why did his AOL did not connect? well, after examining his computer I realized that he already had bunch of spyware, trojens and or worms on his computer. So I try to decrapify his PC by scanning it with Spybot Search and destroy and AdAware SE Personal ed. Most of the things are cleaned, but of course it took off some functionality of AOL. You will wonder why? Wait I know, coz some software that AOL installs on your PC need back door entry to be clear. I have known this for sometime now and for this very reason, I recommend to my customers not to use AOL in any form. But this giant company has acquired its market by mailing free CDs to people even in Mars.

So in order to fix the AOL software and AOL messenger, I had to reinstall the software from their web site and let it run. After it was all downloaded and installed, I try to start it up, but the same thing happened. The softweare would start, but during the connecting phase, it would simple disconnect. So I go into the router settings to see if there is some kind of built in firewall or port forwarding rule that I could use for AOL. But could not find any. Did AOL mention this during the installation phase – NO. So I think to myself that since they do not mention anything about port forwarding or relaxing firewall rules, it should work as it is. But no it did not. So finally I gave the PC a static IP and put that IP in the DMZ area of the router. [DMZ is an acronym for demilitarized zone. which means that the device under that IP is set with all ports open. which means no firewall and no immunity form hackers or broadcasted melicious softwares.] Guess what happens next – Yes, AOL works! But at the cost of exposing that PC to the demiliterized zone. I explained the customer of the risks, but he said he is trapped. All his business contacts have his AOL email ID and he has to have AOL for his business.

So much for giving your trust to a big company like America Online. What a bunch of liars and two faced people are running that company. They tell you that AOL gives you free spyware protection and protection from viruses. It actually has a software module to do that. But itn’t it an irony that the same software needs to be in a DMZ zone in order to function on a simple home networking router?? It needs you to open up back doors on your computer in oder or work? huh! I wonder how safe they really make your PC.

Gateway MX6445 sound driver problem

Last week I was working on a Gateway MX6445 series notebook with MS Media center loaded on it. I want to share my experience coz. it was really interesting.

Initial Problem –
Wireless internet disconnects sporadically. I was called in for an on site job.

Initial troubleshooting
– Checked the connection on the notebook end and on the router end to make sure they are connected and talking. Then un installed the broadcom interface and left the basic drivers. After rebooting the system, it seemed to connect, but only for few minutes. The wireless network kept disconnecting on its own even when the router was 5 steps away from it. The windows interface for wireless networks would say unable to find any wireless network in range and will have the disconnected Cross sign. While another Gateway laptop with same broadcom built in G adapter, was connecting without any hiccups and scanned more then 5 networks in range.
So next I try another wireless USB adapter by DLink. Same thing, no luck. So I decide to take the PC with me and do a system restore. I take it back and reinstall OS from their restore partition. No results, it still did the same thing in my house. [I had a Linksys router, so this ruled out any router problem as well.] So I decide to wipe out the restore partition and install OEM Win XP Pro. Did that but ran into a bigger driver issue.

There were bunch of drivers missing. So I say to myself, “no big deal”. I download the drivers from Gateway web site and install them one after the other. All goes fine except that the Sound drivers and SM Bus [Chipset] drivers does not install.

After spending 8 hrs and doing another windows reinstall, I somehow find out the make and model of the chipset and the sound card. It was a ATI chipset with SB400 AC97′ type sound chip on board. Gateway had posted an AMD driver setup file for this? Weird! So, anyways, after running the ATI chipset driver setup file, SM BUS was installed successfully, but sound wasn’t. I was hoping that it will coz the driver said it will install both the chipset and the SB400 sound chip.
At the end the driver that actually worked was what Gateway had provided – AC97′ Conexant sound drivers. Weird!!
What was I doing wrong all this time? – Well, I was using the setup file to install this sound driver, since windows built in driver wizard was not able to find a suitable driver in the directory where I had it all saved. So all this time I was thinking that it is not the right driver, since windows does not like it. Even the built in Setup file that came with the driver failed to install and gave an error saying “Failed”.
Sound Driver solution – But the way it worked was I had to do a forceful install. i.e. using Have Disk feature while installing the driver. So to make the sound drivers work, –

    you will have to go to device manager, right click on the sound device [doesn’t matter if it is not yellow with question mark],

  • select update driver
  • select Not at this time when asked to connect to the internet for drivers
  • select Install from a list or specific location
  • select Don’t Search, I will choose the driver to install
  • select Have Disk and browse and point to the folder where the drivers are saved. [Make sure the drivers are unzipped]

This should fix your sound problem. It fixed mines, although I still had wireless dis connectivity problem which I could not fix. Or let’s say, I was so fed up with the piece of shit that I did not want to work on it anymore. Thank’s to Gateway for making such f***ing piece of shit notebooks with crappiest hardware in it. I am never going to recommend another Gateway to anyone.