what happened to my laptop (malware?)

I was at a free WiFi cafe’ earlier tonite. When I connect to these routers I get the usual: “this is not a secure connection/other computers may be able to see info you send” or some such warning. I don’t recall the exact wording.

But long story short. I went to sign out of photobucket & close my browser (latest I.E. on Vista) and another I.E. window would pop open.
No, not a pop-up ad, it was the Photobucket sign-out page. They started popping up faster than I could click the close buttons. I had to shut down “improperly”.

What gives? I’m no computer genius, So my thoughts were: “oh no somebody broke into HAL9000”
My ex says it happened to her once so she ran anti-spy & virus scan with no other problems.
I did run my virus scan & came out clean. I’m running my anti-spy (mal, ad)ware now.

Although I haven’t seen anything like that recently (I thought modern browsers stopped that sort of malarkey), it could be that there’s nothing wrong with your machine and that the pop-up hell was just HTML stuff that the Wifi connection’t proxy server was injecting into the data coming to you. Scanning for spyware is never a particularly bad idea though, but if it doesn’t happen again elsewhere (on a different connection), then there may not be any cause for concern.