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Thu 8th January 2009

Cannot find http://(chinese characters)


Filed under: Internet and Technology

A friend of mine recently presented me with their Vista PC running McAfee Antivirus which had a strange problem.  Everytime they tried to open Internet Explorer they simply got a message stating that Internet Explorer cannot find http:// and then a string of random Chinese characters.  These characters changed everytime Internet Explorer was opened.  Internet Explorer would then shut down and restart itself, the message would again appear and this loop would continue until you ended the "iexplore.exe" task in task manager.

No problem!  Classic Malware/Virus infection I thought.  So, I get my trusty copy of Combofix out and run it on the machine.  Unusually it finds nothing.  So, I decided to install and run Spybot Search & Destroy thinking it would just be a standard piece of Adware, this found nothing either.  Strange indeed!

So, I decided to Google the problem and hence the reason for this post really.  The only post I could find relating to this problem was here and the only fix offered was a complete Operating System re-installation, no thanks!  Anyway, read on for the fix....

I ran Internet Explorer with no Add-Ons (Start->Programs->Accessories->System Tools) and it ran fine.  This proves the problem to be with one of the Add-ons.  So, I went through each Add-On disabling them one by one until I found the culprit.  (To do this, right-click the Internet Explorer icon on the desktop and choose "Properties", click the "Programs" tab and click the "Manage Add-Ons" button).  The culprit turned out to be the McAfee SiteAdvisor Toolbar, once this add-on was disabled Internet Explorer worked fine.

I'm guessing unistalling and reinstalling McAfee would fix this but in my friend's case I uninstalled McAfee and stuck avast! on instead.  Job done.
 
Comments

Sun 29th March 2009Bernard Klatt
Thanks for posting the symptoms and fix. Customer brought in a notebook with essentially identical symptoms, suspected some sort of Chinese virus (since McAfee had expired), Malwarebytes and AVG report no problems, was getting ready to backup files, reload OS, but a quick Google found your note. Fixed this one by uninstalling McAfee too. What a nastry trick to play just because their app expired..
 
Sun 29th March 2009Simon
Hi there Bernard,

Thanks for taking the time to post a comment and I'm glad my post managed to give you the information you needed to fix the problem.

But yes, I agree, it is a little naughty for their software to operate in this way, at the very least I'm sure it could offer some sort of error message rather than a string of random chinese characters!
 
Sun 5th April 2009Amanda
Thank you so much Bernard. We just bought a new Acer Aspire One and it started popping up that message. I found your post and it fixed it right up. Thank you again!
 
Thu 7th May 2009Phil
Cheers matey, I had the same problem with my bosses home laptop, desabled mcafee site advisor toolbar and fixed the problem. extra browny points to me on my next contract review, thank you so much
 
Thu 14th May 2009Jeff
THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I was very worried when this happened to my BRAND NEW laptop. I literally just broke the manufacturer's seal and set it up. Tried to open IE and got quite a surprise. Fix worked. THANKS AGAIN!!
 
Mon 24th August 2009Steve
My wife's new Acer netbook had the same problem. Your solution worked perfectly and saved us countless hours of aggravation. Thank you so much for posting this!!
 
Sun 13th September 2009Melissa
Thanks so much for your post!!! I was really upset to get this error since I had just purchased the Acer Aspire One netbook and then started to receive this message after receiving a Windows Update. Nothing I tried seemed to work and there's no way I would figured out that it was the McAfee SiteAdvisor add-on on my own. Thanks so much for taking the time to make the post and many blessings to you.
 
Tue 6th October 2009Mike
Brand new laptop same problem fixed now thanks so much!
 
Fri 6th November 2009Kári Yngva
Thanks so much for posting this stuff! McAfee is total crap. It really takes the "anti" out of antivirus!
 
Fri 25th June 2010Bill
Thank you! This worked to fix the issue on my PC. Strange thing is I didn't even have McAfee loaded, so not sure where the add-on came from. I did get hit with an AV Security Suite virus yesterday, so maybe it had something to do with that...
 
Sun 25th July 2010Brad
Running Trend Micro on my Descktop and I have the same issue, McAfee SiteAdvisor Toolbar isn't in my add on's to remove, so still having problems, My pc is running windows XP.

 
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