Fixing intercepted address bar searches in IE9

When I try to perform a search by typing my search text in the address bar in Internet Explorer 9, my search request is hijacked (“as a courtesy”—huh?) and redirected to a site that allows me to search on Ask.com, as shown here.

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This is aggravating not just because it requires an extra click to initiate the search I requested, but more important, because it ignores the default search engine I’ve configured in IE9. (Believe me, when I have a choice, Ask.com is not my preferred provider!)

I’ve done lots of Googling and Binging (but no Asking) to find a solution, but all the fixes revolve around the Search Providers tab in the Manage Add-ons dialog box—which has no effect on this problem created by my ISP. (FWIW, this occurs on my office T1 service from XO, but I’ve seen similar hijacking on other ISPs, including Charter Cable, which I use at home.)

Although the symptoms are similar to a browser that has been hijacked by malware, the problem is external to my machine; no add-on, other software, or cookie is installed here. It’s simply the DNS service at the ISP that is doing me this wonderful favor.

Read on for two workarounds and a solution… Continue reading