For the past several weeks I have been getting a notice every time I
try to open a link that is within an email. “This operation is canceled
due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Contact your systems
administrator”. I am the systems administrator and I must have changed
something, but I cannot figure where to reverse this error. I am
running Vista Home Premium, Norton InternetSecurity with 4GB of RAM and
a 320 GB Hard Drive on my system.
This is a very common error these days, and manifests in various
It’s not something you did, per se, but in all likelihood
it is something you allowed to happen.
And it’s not good.
99 times out of 100 this error message results because your computer has been infected with a virus.
There are scenarios where the message is both valid and accurate, but those are typically corporate situations where you are not the administrator on your machine, and your corporate IT department has, in fact, implemented restrictions of some sort. I can’t really help you there, you’ll need to talk to the IT department (or person) if that’s your situation.
Sadly, it’s not like I can really help you a lot here either – an infection is an infection, and that’s bad news.
My first recommendation is simple: backup. If you haven’t been keeping backups of your machine already, now’s the time to take a full backup of your machine in case your cleanup efforts fail, or require you to resort to drastic measures. Yes, that means the infection will be “backed up” as well, so we’d never restore the entire machine to this backup. We still want to take a snapshot of everything, so that we can selectively restore anything we might need to later.
Next up: run up-to-date anti-virus software. As always, I don’t necessarily mean the latest and greatest program (though that’s often part of it), I mean a program that has the latest and most up-to-date database of virus information.
You might need to try more than one program. Reports are that Malwarebytes anti-malware is currently doing a great job of removing the latest threats, so it might be well worth a try. Free alternatives like AVG, avast! and Avira are also good choices to try.
Failing that, you can try scouring the internet for solutions to your specific symptoms. For example, I have an article on Why is my Task Manager disabled, and how do I fix it? which is often the result of the same scenario: a virus.
In my opinion, there are two huge problems with fixing the symptom:
That’s why I’m not providing a solution to just your symptom here: it likely won’t help you, and even if it does, it won’t for long. Your machine probably has deeper issues that need to be addressed, namely the virus.
The last resort? You won’t like it.
It’s the standard, when all else fails solution to cleaning your machine of a virus.
Backup (if you haven’t above)
Reformat (erasing everything, including the virus)
Reinstall (requires your original installation media)
Update (get Windows and your applications as up to date as possible)
Restore (your data, only, from that backup)
I told you that you wouldn’t like it.
But it’s the only way to be sure.
And a reminder of how much less painful preventing the infection in the first place would be.