Just returned from a 2 week trip to California and was catching up on reading and came across this from Kim Komando's website on new spyware infecting computers and how to get rid of them. "KILLER TIP--THE WEEKLY QUESTION SENT IN FROM PEOPLE LIKE YOU! I'm dispensing with the usual Q&A format this week. It appears from my e-mail that the spyware problem is reaching crisis proportions. I am getting many complaints about About:Blank and something new (to me, at least)--SearchMiracle.Elite. Both of these programs, and others of their ilk, make changes to Windows Registry. When their files are deleted, the Registry entries download them again. To the uninformed eye, they appear impossible to eradicate. It's a real nightmare. As it happens, someone I know was infected last week with About:Blank, Cool Web Search and a number of other programs. He knows his way around computers, but it still took three or four hours to clean the machine. Argh! The infections occurred when he went to a site looking for information on a program. There was no indication that the site was troublesome. But a number of terrible programs downloaded automatically. He was using Windows XP and Internet Explorer, which were both fully updated. He was not, however, running any anti-spyware software. :/ Today, an anti-spyware program is a necessity. Had he been using a blocking program such as Spybot-Search & Destroy, Spy Sweeper or SpywareBlaster, he probably would not have had these problems. After the fact, he used a cocktail of antidotes to clean the computer: Spybot, Ad-aware, Spy Sweeper, CW Shredder, About:Buster and Microsoft AntiSpyware. But when he rebooted, everything was back. He discovered that all of the programs had inserted themselves into Internet Explorer's Trusted Sites. He cleaned that out. He then ran the cocktail of programs again, and this time was successful. The fact that this spyware was downloaded to an updated computer is disturbing. I believe Internet Explorer is fraught with danger. If you're using it, I suggest you switch to Firefox. You can get it at: http://www.mozilla.org/ If you have About:Blank, SearchMiracle.Elite or other invaders, get offline. Clean out the Trusted Sites in Internet Explorer. Click Tools>>Internet Options. Select the Security tab. Click Trusted Sites. Click Sites. Clean out everything and click OK>>OK. Then attack the spyware with the programs I've mentioned. Use Firefox to download any programs you need. Run the programs at least twice, to be sure they've gotten everything possible. You should also install a custom HOSTS file. Should you get a malicious program, the HOSTS file can block it from communicating over the Internet. I have more information on the HOSTS file at: http://www.komando.com/tips_show.asp?showID=8083 You need to use an anti-spyware program, both to block this malware and to scan your system for problems. There are several, as I mentioned above. I think SpySweeper offers the most protection. It performs both functions. It's the one I use on my systems at home and at the office. Others here use SpywareBlaster. It is a blocking program only. On last weekend's show, I mentioned About:Buster to get rid of About:Blank. It's available free on the Internet, as is Spyware/Blaster. You can find it them at, respectively: http://www.majorgeeks.com/download4289.html http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/ Most of the other programs are available from my site at: http://www.komando.com/bestshareware.asp Anti-virus and firewall programs are still necessary. But they will not protect you from spyware. So you must install additional protection. Hope this helps! And thank you for listening to the show. Be sure to tell 10 friends. It doesn't matter where they live, by the way. Kim "