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Windows 7: Can't open any ".exe" files. Internet Security Issue

30 Mar 2012   #1

Windows 7 64-bit
Can't open any ".exe" files. Internet Security Issue


So I had a customer drop a Dell laptop off at my shop today with what I thought was a simple issue. Turns out, it's not, haha.

When you first turn the computer on, it gives a error message saying, "Windows Security..These files can't be opened..Your Internet security settings prevented one or more files from being opened."

It does this for ANY .exe file. Like IE, Adobe Reader, Quicktime, everything. Even major system processes. regedit cannot be opened, system restore cannot be opened, UAC can't even be turned off because the .exe won't open.

I tried restoring the .exe default registry via a restore file found in another tutorial. Obviously it didn't work.

I even tried making a second user with admin access and doing it that way, same issue.

I removed all of their Anti-virus apps, Firewalls are turned off, etc.

All of the Internet security settings are on low or off.

I removed the hard drive and did a deep scan with AVG one our PC's at the shop.

Now, here is the weird part. Like I said before, the .exe's cannot be opened, it gives the error message everytime, in safemode, and on every user, (although they only have one user, it does it on the temp user I made.). BUT, when you open a file, say it's a .pdf, it will open Adobe Reader right up. They also have a link to "Facebook" on their desktop, not quite sure why, but if I open that up, IE opens up no problem and works just fine. It does this with every program.

I have been on google and trying everything I possibly could for the past 3 hours and I'm completely stumped. The very very very last option would be for me to reinstall Windows, I'm just hoping it doesn't come down to that.

Thanks in advance.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Mar 2012   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Did you do a scan with Malwarebytes? I doubt this is a virus - more likely it's malware causing this problem.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Mar 2012   #3

Windows 7 64-bit

I don't think that's the issue, but I can give it a shot. Right now I'm trying a system restore though the start up repair (when you hit f8) i totally forgot about that. So if it works, then we are good, if not, I'll give what you said a shot.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

30 Mar 2012   #4
Fred Garvin


How do you normally handle malware removal? If you just throw AV programs at it you'll never know if the system is really clean. Run DDS and analyze the output log to see what's running and installed for drivers. You should be able to run process monitor and find the rogue program then kill it and delete the EXE quickly. Try safe mode. The exe file is usually in the user\appdata folder or in the temp folder if you want to try and manually delete it just to get Windows a little more functional.

Doing a system restore is a bad idea. You'll leave malware files scattered which makes it harder to completely remove the infection.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Mar 2012   #5
Tekno Venus

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (O.E.M)


If the above advice doesn't work, try this.
As you can't open anything, please try to create a USB virus recovery disk using Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10. This will load before windows starts off a USB drive and will be able to load as it does not rely on windows. Follow directions here: How to record Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10 to an USB device and boot my computer from it?

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Can't open any ".exe" files. Internet Security Issue

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