Sounds like you have the same thing I did: IE Plugin from Intelligent Explorer.
Get Ad-Aware and Spybot to deal with that problem. Always make sure you have a current version by having the software check for updates when you first install and at least once a week thereafter.
As for a popup blocker, I like Free Surfer. You’ll still get crap asking for permission to install but I doubt there’s anything that can block those. Best way to deal with those is to close 'em. I always try to click “no” but I wasn’t paying attention one time and ended up with that IE Plugin POS.
Someone suggested a spyware sticky at the top of GQ and i agree. Jeff Olsen depending on whats causing it, changing the homepage in Internet Options may not work. Also anyone who’s fed up of this sort of thing might want to consider Firefox.
While Hijackthis is a great tool for this, it should only be used by experts. You need to know how to read the log it creates in order to know what to delete and that does take a bit of practice. To get an analysis, go to http://forums.spywareinfo.com and post the log. Don’t delete anything unless someone tells you it’s OK to delete.
Pop-up blockers work great. However, many links open in separate windows, so you have to either manually turn off pop-up blocking before clicking link, or simply press ctrl before clicking link (Atleats on my pop-up blocker).
I’ve found I run into this trouble, and then have to run Adaware, after trying to surf to a site of which I “think I know the URL”. For example, let’s say you want to go to the website of the First Podunk Bank. You might be tempted to assume their URL is www.firstpodunkbank.com, and type that into the address bar. Do NOT do so, because unsuccessful surfs like that are what let the hijackers in.
Instead, go through Google or some other search engine to find the real URL.
One more vote here for running BOTH Spybot and Adaware–they each catch things that the other one doesn’t.
Also, I find that installing the Google Toolbar gives me a nifty popup blocker that serves my average purposes. It tucks itself in very nicely right under the normal Internet Explorer toolbar/address bar, doesn’t take up that much extra space.
In addition to the things mentioned, you should also use Spyware Blaster, which keeps many forms of Spyware from ever being installed.
Also, an important tool to add to your antispyware toolkit is CWShredder. Keep it in reserve if you get a browser hijack. Most likely, it’s a variant of CoolWebSearch, which Ad-Aware and Spybot can’t keep up with.