Home Search Assistant

This is not actually an AIM virus, but I've been asked about this enough that it's warranted its own page. AIM 5.5 and 5.9 especially are prone to being infected by spyware. Home Search Assistant, Shopping Wizard, Search Extender, and Smiley Central can all interfere with AIM.

AOL has posted known problems with this here and you can read for more information.

Symptoms are being unable to type into a message window, or being unable to IM a buddy (sending or receiving a message crashes AIM). In the case of Smiley Central, you need to follow the Spyware Removal steps, and uninstall Smiley Central. For the rest, again follow the spyware removal steps, but they may be unable to fix the problem. As a temporary solution, I recommend uninstalling AIM 5.5 or 5.9 and installing AIM 5.2, available for download here: [ftp.newaol.com]

Note that the best way to properly reinstall AIM completely is to follow these steps:

  1. Delete the entire C:\Program Files\AIM folder
  2. Install the current version of AIM from aim.com

You can also install an alternative messaging software, such as Gaim, which lets you talk on AIM, MSN, Yahoo, and other systems all at the same time. To download Gaim, see [gaim.sourceforge.net]

Another alternative software you may prefer is Trillian, which also lets you talk on the AOL network with some extra or interesting features.

For help with HSA, your best bet is to download HijackThis and then post the log to a spyware help site such as [subratam.org] where experts can help you with removing this pest.

Removal instructions for HSA are available at:
[ bleepingcomputer.com] and a partial removal tool is available at [hsaremove.com] but I have never used it and cannot vouch for it. I am NOT responsible for either of the two links above and there are provided purely for your convenience.