the risks of surfing porn

OK, no value judgements or laughing, please, just good advice.

I recently made the foolish mistake of surfing porn on my office laptop (I was home at the time, not at work, in case that makes any ethical difference!). The problem is, I must have inadvertantly downloaded some spyware (or something like it), which is now doing interesting things to my computer (changing my default homepage on IE to a crap search engine every time I reboot; saving several porn sites to My Favorite bookmarks every time I reboot; and randomly changing certain ‘clean’ URL links to a link to a porn site). I have tried all the fixes I can think of: virus check, spyware check, clearing cookies, clearing internet history, but the problems remain.

So I have two questions for you SDMB’ers:

  1. can you point me to any websites/resources that could advise me on what technical fixes are possible (as this is not a computer forum, I am not asking you for technical advice)

  2. If I end up having to take my laptop to our office’s IT guys, what kind of story could I give them that might explain this happening without admitting I surf porn?!

OK, you can mock me a little if you want……

Do you have any teenage sons you could blame for surfing for porn? Or perhaps you have friends with teenage sons you could blame. If not, pretend one of your friends has a teenage son who did it. Say you were over at their house doing some consulting work when the horny little bastard made his move.

They’re gonna know it’s you no matter what you tell them. But I wouldn’t worry too much about it, 'cause they probably surf porn too.

Well, you might try using Ad-aware:

Also, several weeks ago I was looking up information on County Clare in Ireland. Imagine my surprise when I clicked on a link that took me straight to a porn site which informed me that after the download was complete I would be graced with my very own password. Appears I did not back out of that quick enough and started to suffer the same symptoms you describe. Finally tracked down something like “hotporn-441” in my registry. Deleted that from the registry, cleared my temp files, etc… and everything was fine. So you might try searching for “porn” in your registry. You might also want to check C:\Windows\System for any like named entities ( can’t remember off-hand whether or not I had to unregister/delete anything from there).

A second vote for Ad-aware, it did a great job clearing up my spyware problems.

Thanks Carcosa. Would you believe that the spyware actually captured the Ad-aware link you just sent, so that it looked like you were telling me to go to

http://Do Not Link To Porn Sites!.com

Quite ironic…

Actually, Ad-aware is the software I used, but no luck. I will try the registry, but have always been afraid to mess around with it, as I am not particularly IT-saavy.

To everyone: do you think it is possible to get infected by this stuff without going to a porn site? Maybe from other ‘gray’ sites, like MP3 swapping, etc??

[Link to porn site broken-Czarcasm]

RobertP My E-mail address is in m y profile if you would be willing to E-mail me what what site your browser has been hijacked to I may be able to help you out so you don’t have to go to the IT people at work.

Try spybot it sometimes picks up stuff ad-aware doesn’t and visa versa

Please do NOT link to porn sites!

Sorry everyone. I remembered the rule only after I hit Submit. My bad.

I was google-ing for an actress in a movie currently in the theatres and ended up face-to-“face” with Japanese kiddy porn. Then the hard-drive died about seven hours later. I thought for sure that I’d end up like Pete Townsend.

You never know what you’re going to get when you click on a link, and it doesn’t matter how mundane or innocuous the topic is. The other day I Googled for information on, of all things, how to calculate the perimeter of an ellipse, and ended up hitting a porn site. I was at work when this happened, too. After trying to close one window and getting several more new windows I had to just shut my machine off and let it reboot.

I followed MannyL’s advice and all my problems are fixed. Great, now I won’t have to hang my head in shame around the office (not this time at least!)

A good tip to prevent this kind of hijacking of your system is to use an alternative browser. Since IE is so widely used, that’s what the hijackers and virus authors often target.

While not 100% bulletproof, using a less-popular browser like Mozilla or its derivatives or other non-IE browsers can prevent a lot of those questionable sites from doing questionable things to your system because the internal workings of the various browsers differs enough to prevent changes intended for IE.

With your work system though, you often have to be careful about what you install on the system. The company I work for has rules against installing 3rd party software on its systems that is not approved by the IT and Legal departments (for copyright reasons).

Another good one to consider is Opera. I use it all the time and have had no problems like the OP describes.

If you don’t have that luxury, you might try setting up a local non-administrator account that cannot install software or make system changes. On my personal laptop, I’ve got an admin account (with a password, in case the machine is lost), and a couple of other accounts without admin privileges. I do almost all of my web browsing with these other accounts, which helps filter out some of the trojans and other embedded apps. Doesn’t get 'em all, of course, which is what ZoneAlarm, McAfee, AdAware, SpyBot, and all the rest of those things are for.

Given how much the battle for Internet control has turned into an arms race, I’m regularly surprised at how many people go into combat with only a tank top…

As many people have already given you sound advice, I will take this oportunity to say - HA HA HA HA!!!

You’re obviously not hitting the right sites. There are MANY folks on the internet with MUCH less than a tank top! :smiley:

Of course, hitting the ‘right’ sites is what led us to this discussion in the first place. :slight_smile:

Even better use an alternative OS - you don’t even need to install it. There is a Linux distribution called knoppix which runs from CD. Just insert the CD, boot it, and run Netscape to … ahem … do whatever you want :slight_smile:

Never had any spyware problems - they are designed for windows only.

Yep. Or if you can get your hand on an old Quadra long enough to copy the ROM, download Basilisk and do your surfing in an emulated Mac environment while remaining booted in Windows for the rest of your activities. (While you’re at it, you could use a mac email program and not have to worry about email-borne viruses).