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Can't access HTTP, Can access HTTPS--What's wrong here?

By planetearth ·
Hello, all! I sure hope someone can help with this.

One of my client's PCs started having a problem last week. Long story short, the user can't acces HTTP sites using IE 7 or Chrome after the PC has been on for 5 minutes, but she CAN access HTTPS sites as well as use FTP, e-mail and other Internet-related apps. If she reboots, she can access HTTP sites again, but only for a few minutes. Then she gets the "Page cannot be displayed" error.

I connect to the PC via TeamViewer, LogMeIn and/or GoToMeeting, which work fine. The client has no XP installation CD or backup, so I'm limited as to what I can try. I also can't run the Windows System File Checker because she has no disc.

There is no proxy server showing in IE 7 on her Windows XP SP3 PC. I suspect it's a proxy server issue, but even if I force IE to use a proxy server, she can't access HTTP sites. Nothing is selected/ticked/checked in IE for proxy server use or "automatically detect settings", and enabling any of that stuff doesn't help. I'm assuming there could be a file or Registry corruption, though I can't confirm it since I can't run SFC.

This was probably caused by virus/Trojan infections (Trojan.Tracur, specifically), but I've removed all traces of the virus with AVG Internet Security and Malwarebytes.

I've done everything I could try, including:
-Reset IE 7/Disable add-ons
-Windows XP Network Diagnostics returned Error 12029
-Reset TCP/IP stack
-Reset Winsock
-Remove/re-install Intel NIC in Device Manager; Update NIC driver
-Reset Windows Firewall

I've reset everything I can except for the core Windows system files because she doesn't have her XP disc or a backup. There are no System Restore points before the virus infection date (even though System Restore is enabled), so I can't revert to that.

She's going to try "Safe Mode with Networking" to see if she can access HTTP sites for longer than 5 minutes; I'll let you know how that goes.

Does anyone have any idea what else I can do here?

Thanks in advance!

Steve

UPDATE: The PC works just fine in Safe Mode. The user has no problems accessing HTTP sites for as long as she wants to in Safe Mode. I found no entries in the Registry as to what might be running on startup. CHKDSK found some 1408 index-related disk errors and fixed them, but nothing serious. Fixing those errors didn't help.

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You might try reinstalling Internet Explorer...

it may be a corrupted Internet Explorer file...might as well upgrade to IE 8 if
her system has the resources for it...at least 512 meg RAM, plenty of HD space...
you can also run the Microsoft Malware Removal tool from the "Run" command,
Start, Run then type MRT and press Enter. Let it run and clean anything found.

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Reponse To Answer

by hartiq In reply to You might try reinstallin ...

That is the first thing I thought of. The next thing I thought of was downloading Chrome, Opera and Firefox browsers and seeing if they work.
The third thing I thought of was finding a WinXPSP3 box with IE7 that does work, telephoning the client from that location and comparing her settings with those of a known working box.
DOS prompt and ipconfig might tell you something. If it comes up with strange numbers you might still have a virusy thing going.
I'm actually surprised the OP hasn't tried using a different browser (not even a new copy of IE7 or even an old copy of IE*6*.) If nothing else, that would eliminate the *browser* as the source of the issue.
It might be worthwhile running through services.msc and msconfig to see if something in there looks odd. Taskmanager might also help.
I'd assume a professional has already done most or all of the above, but I'm mentioning them just in case the OP has forgotten something dead simple and is searching for zebras not horses.
Add/Remove Programs is also a fun place to go. If the client has the patience to play with this she can slowly remove stuff - starting with anything new or odd-looking - while testing IE to see if anything fixes the issue. Personally, as I said above, I'd start with the browser. Removing IE7 and doing a clean-ish install might work.
Sorry if I sound patronising. That was not my intention. Sometimes we pro's get so hung up looking for zebras and unicorns that we forget the herds of horses that cause most problems.
Hope some of this helps,
H.

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Reponse To Answer

by planetearth In reply to You might try reinstallin ...

Thanks. I'd considered that, but since this affects IE 7 and Google Chrome, it didn't seem to be browser-specific, so I didn't think moving to IE 8 would help. I'll look again at upgrading while Microsoft's Malware Removal tool is running, though.

We had to re-install Google Chrome last night because some core files were deleted or corrupted (according to Chrome). When we re-installed, it still couldn't access HTTP sites after 5 minutes. Don't know what screwed up Chrome, but CHKDSK scans have been clean.

Hartiq, there are no unnecessary apps, only 3 entries running on startup and no questionable services running. No offense taken by your suggestions, and I appreciate the horse/zebra analogy.

I've been removing malware and viruses for years, and while I'm pretty sure I know how to hunt them down and remove them, I certainly appreciate everyone's input here! I think this one just screwed up Windows.

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Reponse To Answer

by jamblaster In reply to You might try reinstallin ...

Has the user tried using Firefox? Just my opinion, but I wouldn't put Internet Explorer on my worst enemies computer (LOL). IE most probably isn't the problem, but changing browsers might be the solution.

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Trend Micro

by harishdixit In reply to Can't access HTTP, Can ac ...

If the problem is not already installed check her machine for Trend Micro antivirus. I faced this problem once on a machine. Stop the Trend micro firewall and things should be fine.

Cheers !
Harish.

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Reponse To Answer

by planetearth In reply to Trend Micro

I've seen Trend Micro do that, too! Had to re-install it for a client after it did more damage to her machine than the malware infection. However, it isn't and has never been on this machine. Microsoft Security Essentials was "on duty"/asleep when this happened.

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Can't access HTTP

by peary In reply to Can't access HTTP, Can ac ...

Have you checked the hosts file to see if that has some entries in it redirecting the browser?

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Reponse To Answer

by planetearth In reply to Can't access HTTP

I checked the HOSTS file, and found nothing. I even had Spybot check the system and review the HOSTS file. No problems there. I should have mentioned that in the beginning, too.

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Good golly

by slam5 In reply to Can't access HTTP, Can ac ...

I honestly don't think a run that anti-virus software or rootkit killer will help her. It is far more realistic for you to wipe the drive and start from scratch. It will take 2-3 hours to re-install the system from ground up. How many hours had been used already? Even if you can get her to browse http again, how do you know every trace is gone?

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Reponse To Answer

by planetearth In reply to Good golly

She has no backup of her data and no XP installation CD, thanks to an unscrupulous PC build/repair shop. She's getting an XP disc, but even with that, remotely walking a user through wiping and re-installing Windows is not an easy task, and likely to take many more hours. That's why I was hoping my fellow Tech Republic members would help me think of something that might work in this rather unusual situation. I've gotten some good ideas so far, and I'll be trying them today.

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