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Adware.StartPage

Adware.StartPage

Updated:
February 13, 2007
Risk Impact:
High
File Names:
varies
Systems Affected:
Windows

Behavior


Adware.StartPage is an adware that modifies the Internet Explorer home page without your permission.

Symptoms


Microsoft Internet Explorer settings are reset to non-default settings every time Windows restarts

Behavior


This adware is generally manually installed.

Antivirus Protection Dates

  • Initial Rapid Release version October 02, 2014 revision 022
  • Latest Rapid Release version July 20, 2017 revision 021
  • Initial Daily Certified version April 27, 2004
  • Latest Daily Certified version July 21, 2017 revision 001
  • Initial Weekly Certified release date April 28, 2004
Click here for a more detailed description of Rapid Release and Daily Certified virus definitions.

Adware.StartPage may present itself as a valid program, and it may be run-time compressed. When this adware runs, it changes your Internet Explorer home page.

When Adware.StartPage is executed, it performs the following actions:
  1. Copies itself to the %System% or the %Windir% folder. The file names vary and are often selected to resemble the names of legitimate Windows system files. Some examples include Rundll32.exe and winproc32.exe. However, other file names have been seen.

    Notes:
    • %System% is a variable. The adware locates the System folder and copies itself to that location. By default, this is C:\Windows\System (Windows 95/98/Me), C:\Winnt\System32 (Windows NT/2000), or C:\Windows\System32 (Windows XP).
    • %Windir% is a variable. The adware locates the Windows installation folder (by default, this is C:\Windows or C:\Winnt) and copies itself to that location.

  2. Adds a value in the form:

    "<key name>" = "<the filename of the adware>"  

    to one or both of the registry keys:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

    so that the adware runs when you start Windows.

    For example:

    "Windows Internet Protocol" = "%System%\winproc32.exe "
    "rundll32"="%System%\rundll32.exe"
    "SysSearch"="REGEDIT.EXE -s %Windir%\sysreg.reg"

    are three possible values.

  3. May drop an auxiliary data file into the %Windir% or %System% folder.

  4. May add entries to %Windows%\hosts or %System%\drivers\etc\hosts, to redirect to a different Web site.

  5. May change Internet Explorer's behavior by modifying the keys:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\StartPage
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\Search Page
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\Search Page
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\Search Bar
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\Search Bar
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchUrl
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchUrl
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\TypedUrls
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Use Search Asst
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Use Search Asst
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Use Custom Search URL
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Use Custom Search URL
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Default_Search_URL
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Default_Search_URL
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchAssistant
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchAssistant
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\CustomizeSearch
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\CustomizeSearch

7. May add a list of URLs to the Favorites folder, some of which may contain adult content.


The following instructions pertain to all Symantec antivirus products that support Security Risk detection.

  1. Disable System Restore (Windows Me/XP).
  2. Delete the added lines from the Windows Hosts file.
  3. Update the virus definitions.
  4. Restart the computer in Safe mode or VGA mode.
  5. Run a full system scan, and delete all the files that are detected as Adware.StartPage.
  6. Delete the values that were added to the registry.
  7. Reset the Internet Explorer home page.
  8. Reset the Internet Explorer Search page.

For details on each of these steps, read the following instructions.

1. To disable System Restore (Windows Me/XP)
If you are running Windows Me or Windows XP, we recommend that you temporarily turn off System Restore. Windows Me/XP uses this feature (which is enabled by default,) to restore the files on your computer in case they become damaged. If a virus, worm, or Trojan infects a computer, System Restore may back up the virus, worm, or Trojan on the computer.

Windows prevents outside programs, including antivirus programs, from modifying System Restore. Therefore, antivirus programs or tools cannot remove threats in the System Restore folder. As a result, System Restore has the potential of restoring an infected file on your computer, even after you have cleaned the infected files from all the other locations.

Also, a virus scan may detect a threat in the System Restore folder even though you have removed the threat.

For instructions on how to turn off System Restore, read your Windows documentation, or one of the following articles: Note: When you are completely finished with the removal procedure and are satisfied that the threat has been removed, re-enable System Restore by following the instructions in the previously mentioned documents.

For additional information and an alternative to disabling Windows Me System Restore, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base article "Antivirus Tools Cannot Clean Infected Files in the _Restore Folder ," Article ID: Q263455.


2. To delete the added lines from the Windows Hosts file

Note: The location of the Hosts file may vary and some computers may not have this file. For example, if the file exists in Windows 98, it will usually be in C:\Windows; and it is located in the C:\WINNT\system32\drivers\etc folder in Windows 2000. There may also be multiple copies of this file in different locations.


Follow the instructions for your operating system:

  • Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000
    1. Click Start, point to Find or Search, and then click Files or Folders.
    2. Make sure that "Look in" is set to (C:) and that "Include subfolders" is checked.
    3. In the "Named" or "Search for..." box, type:

      hosts

    4. Click Find Now or Search Now.
    5. For each Hosts file that you find, right-click the file, and then click Open With.
    6. Deselect the "Always use this program to open this program" check box.
    7. Scroll through the list of programs and double-click Notepad.
    8. When the file opens, delete all the entries in the Hosts file, except for the following line:

      127.0.0.1     localhost

    9. Close Notepad and save your changes when prompted.

  • Windows XP
    1. Click Start > Search.
    2. Click All files and folders.
    3. In the "All or part of the file name" box, type:

      hosts

    4. Verify that "Look in" is set to "Local Hard Drives" or to (C:).
    5. Click More advanced options.
    6. Check Search system folders.
    7. Check Search subfolders.
    8. Click Search.
    9. Click Find Now or Search Now.
    10. For each Hosts file that you find, right-click the file, and then click Open With.
    11. Deselect the "Always use this program to open this program" check box.
    12. Scroll through the list of programs and double-click Notepad.
    13. When the file opens, delete all the entries in the Hosts file except for the following line:

      127.0.0.1     localhost

    14. Close Notepad and save your changes when prompted.
3. To update the virus definitions
Symantec Security Response fully tests all the virus definitions for quality assurance before they are posted to our servers. There are two ways to obtain the most recent virus definitions:
  • Running LiveUpdate, which is the easiest way to obtain virus definitions
    These virus definitions are posted to the LiveUpdate servers once each week (usually on Wednesdays), unless there is a major virus outbreak. To determine whether definitions for this threat are available by LiveUpdate, refer to the Virus Definitions (LiveUpdate).
  • Downloading the definitions using the Intelligent Updater
    The Intelligent Updater virus definitions are posted on U.S. business days (Monday through Friday). You should download the definitions from the Symantec Security Response Web site and manually install them. To determine whether definitions for this threat are available by the Intelligent Updater, refer to the Virus Definitions (Intelligent Updater).

    The Intelligent Updater virus definitions are available: Read "How to update virus definition files using the Intelligent Updater" for detailed instructions.

4. To restart the computer in Safe mode or VGA mode
Shut down the computer and turn off the power. Wait for at least 30 seconds, and then restart the computer in Safe mode or VGA mode.
  • In Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, or XP, restart the computer in Safe mode.
    For instructions, read the document "How to start the computer in Safe Mode."
  • In Windows NT 4, restart the computer in VGA mode.

5. To scan for and delete the infected files
  1. Start your Symantec antivirus program, and make sure that it is configured to scan all the files.
  2. Run a full system scan.
  3. If any files are detected as infected with Adware.StartPage, click Delete.

6. To delete the values that were added to the registry

Important: Symantec strongly recommends that you back up the registry before making any changes to it. Incorrect changes to the registry can result in permanent data loss or corrupted files. Modify the specified keys only. Read the document "How to make a backup of the Windows registry" for instructions.
  1. Click Start > Run.
  2. Type regedit

    and then click OK.

  3. Navigate to each of these keys:
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

  4. In the right pane, delete any values that refer to the files detected in step 4.

  5. Exit the Registry Editor.

7. To reset the Internet Explorer home page
  1. Start Microsoft Internet Explorer.
  2. Connect to the Internet, and then go to the page that you want to set as your home page.
  3. Click Tools > Internet Options.
  4. In the Home page section of the General tab, click Use Current > OK.

For additional information, or if this procedure does not work, read the Microsoft® Knowledge Base article, "Home Page Setting Changes Unexpectedly, or You Cannot Change Your Home Page Setting," Article ID 320159.


8. To reset the Internet Explorer Search page
Follow the instructions for your version of Windows.

Windows 98/Me/2000
  1. Start Microsoft Internet Explorer.
  2. Click the Search button on the toolbar.
  3. In the Search pane, click Customize.
  4. Click Reset.
  5. Click Autosearch Settings.
  6. Select a search site from the drop-down list, and then click OK.
  7. Click OK.

Windows XP
Because Windows XP is set by default to use animated characters in the search, how you do this can vary. Read all the instructions before you start.
  1. Start Microsoft Internet Explorer.
  2. Click the Search button on the toolbar.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • If the pane that opens looks similar to this picture:





      click the word Customize. Then skip to step h.

    • If the pane that opens has the words "Search Companion" at the top, and the center looks similar to this picture:





      click the Change preferences link as shown above. Proceed with step d.

  4. Click the Change Internet search behavior link.
  5. Under "Internet Search Behavior," click With Classic Internet Search.
  6. Click OK. Then close Internet Explorer. (Close the program for the change to take effect.)
  7. Start Internet Explorer. When the search pane opens, it should now look similar to this:





    Click the word Customize, and then proceed with the next step.

  8. In the Search pane, click Customize.
  9. Click Reset.
  10. Click Autosearch Settings.
  11. Select a search site from the drop-down list, and then click OK.
  12. Click OK.
  13. Do one of the following:
    • If you were using (or want to continue using) the "Classic Internet Search" panel, stop here (or proceed with the next section).
    • If you want to go back to the "Search Companion" search (it usually has an animated character at the button), proceed with step n.

  14. Click the word Customize again.
  15. In the "Customize Search Settings" window, click Use Search Companion > OK.
  16. Close Internet Explorer. The next time you open it, it will again use the Search Companion.