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Issue #408: May 17–23, 2015

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Q: I am having a problem with Google search. I recently had problems with it when it started coming up with the address bar having an url that started out as: taplika.com with about 50 0r more characters following. The desktop would have place for typing a search term but also a popup that stated my computer had issues and needed to be repaired with a yes or no selection for going to their program. I hit no but it still went to this program. It would not let me get out or get out of the taplika search. Had to shut down with start button on tower. Did this twice then took to shop, had computer 3 days and they removed avast virus software and installed eset nod32 antivirus saying avast slowed the computer down. seemed to be faster and worked alright but had to use google search today when bing would not bring up the search results I needed and it started again with the popup and there was a tab for yahoo behind the taplika url and the results of search was in yahoo. Deleted google in control panel and tried to go to google to try and download maybe a clean install but with same results. At wits end, any help would be appreciated. Little long but thought it was all necessary.

– Robert C.
Mary Esther, Florida

A:  I take issue with your computer repair guy, and his so-called repairs.  First of all, I currently have Avast! installed on every PC that I’m responsible for maintaining, and it doesn’t make any of them run slow.  Second, I find it very – ahem – “convenient” that he replaced a perfectly good free scanner with one that you have to pay for, and which he probably charged you a premium to install.  So ultimately, you still have the problem you started with, but now you also have an annual fee associated with your virus scanner.  I’d think twice before spending any more money at that business.

You said in your question that you had gone to your PC’s Control Panel and “Deleted google”.  I’m not sure what you actually deleted, but the Google Search Engine is a website, and as such does not get installed locally on your computer.  You might be talking about Google Toolbar, Google Maps, Google Earth, or Google Desktop (to name a few), but of these none of these except for the Toolbar have anything to do with searches, and even the toolbar doesn’t perform searches, it just makes accessing the search engine easier.  Desperately uninstalling and reinstalling software in an attempt to fix a problem is neither effective, nor a very good idea, as it can actually introduce other problems. 

The problem is not Google, it is Taplika, which is search engine hijack malware. If your system repair guy successfully removed it in the first place (I have my doubts) something you are doing is causing it to get re-installed.  You’re either visiting a website that is doing what’s called a drive-by download (something gets installed behind the scenes when a web page loads into your browser, or when you click on a dialog box) or more likely, you’re installing some other software and Taplika is coming along for the ride.  This particular potentially unwanted program (PUP) is known to be distributed with video recording and streaming software, download managers, and PDF creators.  If this rings a bell, don’t bother trying to fix the problem by going and uninstalling the culprit because that won’t restore the corrupted browser settings. 

Regular readers of my column will notice that PUPs, particularly browser redirect malware, have been a recurring theme in the column in the last few months.  I’ve found a pretty comprehensive guide that should help you to remove most, if not all of these type of malware infestations.  You’ll find it at tinyurl.com/oywch2k.  Don’t skip any of the steps, or you may find the problem coming right back, just like it did when your repair guy got done with it.

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One Response to “Issue #408: May 17–23, 2015”

  • Judie Day says:

    I wanted to comment on Issue #408 in today’s newspaper. Some people don’t realize that those pages that pop up have opened another page on the Internet. So if you look up at the top of your Browser window you’ll see another Tab has been opened and all you need to do is to close the tab to get out of the page. There’s never a close button and clicking on ‘No’, Yes or anything else on that page will get you in a lot of trouble. Thank you for all the help you’ve given us over the years. Heaven knows I’ve learned a LOT! And Thank-you for the information on how to remove Browser redirect viruses. I’m going to pass that on to my classes at the CLL and the CLL Computer Club members. Happy Memorial Day and Thank-you again, Judie Day


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