A quick solution to both problems exists.
- Open Internet Explorer
- Visit tools/Internet options and choose the connections tab.
- Click on the connection button and then on LAN settings.
- Select the "Use a proxy server for your lan" checkbox (un-select every other option you see).
- Enter 0.0.0.0 as your proxy address, port 80 and save.
This will completely disable Internet Explorer and will also cause any automatic updates or connections that aren't being initiated by you to fail. Of course IE won't work either but you can use other browsers.
Why do this? Because many viruses and hacks set to hijack your computer rely on Microsoft (operating system) to get in and anything microsoft related defaults to trying to use the same configuration as IE does when connecting to the net.
If you don't use IE anyway disabling it as mentioned above is an option.
edit: automatic adobe updates will also fail, they default to using IE settings. This is a temporary fix and will mean getting updates later on when you go to use the software (legitimate calls are blocked) but at the same time a hacker can't trick your system to check for an update from his/her servers either.
[edited by: JS_Harris at 2:01 am (utc) on June 11, 2009]