About the Blank Page Virus

By Contributing Writer

The Blank Page virus isn't actually a virus at all, but rather a hijacking tool designed to take control of Internet Explorer remotely. Because of the widespread appearance of this problem and its invasive nature, it's thought of as a virus.

Identification

When opening a new Internet Explorer session, the home page is gone and appears blank. Also, the address or navigation bar simply shows "About:blank." Changes to the Windows registry also take place, but it requires in-depth investigation to notice this has happened.

Types

This phenomenon has been traced to a software tool known as the Cool Web Search Hijacker, which likely started as an aid to advertisers interested in directing web traffic their way. The malware causing Internet Explorer problems that appear as "About: blank" shares much of the same code.

Misconceptions

The overwhelming majority of "About: blank" cases have nothing to do with a virus; they're simply adware gone awry and can't damage files on a computer.

Considerations

Leaving the problem unattended may over time cause further corruption of the registry, as that's where the malware operates and perpetuates itself.

Prevention/Solution

Manual removal can be difficult as it involves editing the registry with a tool such as Reglite.exe, followed by regular diligence on the user's part to make sure the "virus" isn't hiding in other parts of the registry.

Expert Insight

A more user-friendly approach is to download specific removal programs such as Adware Away; many are available as freeware. Commercial antivirus suites now also look for this malware when active and can remove it if found.

References & Resources