A Trojan-style virus forced StarTribune.com to cut off its outside advertising feed. After testing all ads for malicious software, Star Tribune officials hope to restore the website to normal Tuesday.
A virus apparently spawned by an advertisement on StarTribune.com on Sunday morning was stopped Monday afternoon by halting the feed of outside ads to the website.
It was a pattern that website operators have seen before: An unauthorized Web advertisement from an outside source was slipped into the mix of electronically routed ads that appear on the website, and visitors apparently received a malicious download from it.
After testing all ads for malicious software, Star Tribune officials hope to restore the website to normal Tuesday.
StarTribune.com users received what appeared to be a warning message from the Windows operating system (Apple Macintosh computers appear not to have been affected). The warning said the computer had a problem, and it urged the user to click on the warning message for help. The "help" proved to be anything but, as an additional software download frequently slowed their PCs to a crawl. Some said they couldn't open programs other than their Web browser. The malicious software then showed an advertisement offering a for-pay download to fix the problem.
Computer users looking for a fix can try antivirus scans, or a free Microsoft download that eradicates such threats. The free Microsoft Security Essentials can be found at tinyurl.com/yewgwqn. If you lack security software, try AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition at tinyurl.com/yknjwbx or Spybot - Search & Destroy, which eliminates spyware and adware, at tinyurl.com/clbek4.
Another alternative is to run the Windows System Restore program, which returns a PCs settings to an earlier time. On Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7, go to Start, click "all programs," "accessories," "system tools" and "system restore." System restore will offer you a calendar of dates to which you can return; choose one from at least a week ago. Several users reported Malwarebytes was another solution.
Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553