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Solved: Dell's "Browser Hijacker" (Google "helper[??]")

Discussion in 'Virus & Other Malware Removal' started by jalind, Nov 21, 2007.

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  1. jalind

    jalind Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2007
    Messages:
    12
    This week I'm at my in-laws -- and doing routing maintenance on their computers and wireless network -- which includes thorough bumper to bumper scanning of their computers for a variety of things. While doing so with their relatively new Dell laptop I encountered the infamous and incredibly annoying Browser Helper [??] that Dell, in a deal with Google, is installing on new computers.

    This "feature" is incredibly annoying when ultimately encountered during the loading of a legit web page. It takes what is presumed to be a mis-typed URL or one that doesn't resolve in the DNS (domain name server) -- including from embedded ad banners -- and instead of returning a standard DNS error, it redirects the browser to a Dell web page with Google search box and a host of click-through adverts. My ISP's home page (which I was using to get to my web mail) was triggering this before the web page could completely load -- as were some web pages on Newegg before that.

    Took me a while to sort out what it was as Spybot S&D, Adaware and Hijack This didn't find it (at the least I didn't recognize it in the Hijack This log). Turns out it's not that difficult to get rid of -- but Dell/Google don't make it plainly obvious.

    Here's the fix:
    1. Close Internet Explorer (important!)
    2. Fire up the Control Panel
    3. Go to "Add or Remove Programs"
    4. Look for one of these programs (they've used several different program names):
      • "Browser Address Error Redirector" or
      • "GoogleAFE" or
      • "URL Assistant"
    5. You will (should) only find one of them -- highlight it and hit the "Change/Remove" button.
    6. Reboot the computer -- this annoyance should be gone now!

    BTW - There is a little itty-bitty "What's this?" hyperlink in the upper right corner on the Dell/Google page this beast redirects the browser to -- easily missed -- and this is the URL it takes you to that explains why you ended up there (on the Dell/Google page with paid adverts):
    http://www.google.com/hws/dell/afe?

    What the removal instructions there do not explain is the need to close Internet Explorer first, and to reboot the computer after removing the program. Once loaded by IE, it stays loaded in RAM even though it's been "removed" from the hard drive and registry. This is most likely why some who have encountered this thing and tried to remove it have thought the removal failed.

    Wanted to share in greater detail what it is and how to get rid of it.
    -- John
    P.S.
    Apology in advance if these instructions are elsewhere on the forum - I did to a search and got some hits but it didn't turn up the specifics about what it is and how to get rid of it.
     
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