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If your computer is connecting unexpectedly, there are things you should check. You may have spyware, or your email program may have a mind of its own.

Every once in a while the notification balloon saying that "magma.ca is now connected, speed 44.0 bps...." comes up while I am definitely not connected. I am suspecting a software glitch but can not, of course identify it since I am just an ordinary user of a PC. I have run all kinds of cleaning programs to no avail. If you have some idea what could cause this, I would be grateful if you would let me know. Running Windows XP, Home and SP3 installed.

"definitely not connected."?

I beg to differ. That's exactly what that little balloon means.

And depending on what you mean by "cleaning program", I'm not at all surprised they didn't help.

If I were you, I'd check my phone bill asap. And then check a few things to make sure that this isn't some malicious software.

I get the sense that they're not as common as they once were, but one particular form of malware is called a "dialer". When you're infected, the dialer does exactly what it sounds like: it dials the phone and makes a connection to a remote number. The problem, and the scam, is that the number is usually a "900" or similar so-called "premium rate" phone numbers where you are charged an exorbitant amount of money by the receiving party, often per minute.

You typically don't realize what's happening until you get a phone bill of several hundred, or perhaps even thousands, of dollars. And phone companies are notoriously difficult to deal with on these issues.

So the very first thing you should do is scan your computer for viruses and spyware, making sure you're using up- to- date programs with up- to- date databases. Most so called "cleaning" programs do not do this; they are not anti-malware in the same sense that anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are. And anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are something you should be running regularly anyway.

"In your shoes, I would do both: scan for malware, and block the calls."

You may also be able to call your phone company and have them put an explicit block on outgoing calls to 900-like numbers. You won't be able to make a 900 call if you actually wanted to, but I'm guessing that's something you can live with.

In your shoes, I would do both: scan for malware, and block the calls.

Now, there is a possibility of a non-malicious source for this connection. It could be your email program.

If your email program is configured to check for email every so often, and it's configured to dial up as needed, then it could be doing exactly what it was told to do: dialing out to check for new email every so often.

First, in Outlook Express, click on Tools, Options and then make sure you're on the General tab:

Outlook Express General Options

Make sure that "Do not connect" is selected where it says "If my computer is not connected at this time".

Then click on the Connection tab, and press the Change button:

Internet Options Connections Tab

I would make sure that "Never dial a connection" is selected. That way to actually connect you'll have to do so manually, but you'll be assured you only connect when you want to.

Article C3468 - August 6, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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7 Comments
ruth
August 12, 2008 12:02 PM

in the question text, - definitely not connected-, is not in quotes so I would wonder if perhaps the balloon that states "is now connected" is referring to a home network. The statement "definitely not connected", may be her own, meaning that he/she is telling you that there is no internet connection.

Lynn
August 12, 2008 3:03 PM

Along the same line, why, when I'm using the internet and obviously connected to the home network, I occasionally get the bubble telling me that I'm now connected.

dunstergirl
August 12, 2008 9:52 PM

The speed definitely sounds like dialup, but is it possible the asker is confusing "connected" with actively being online (i.e., browsing or checking email)? He/she could check this (if on dialup) when the balloon appears by picking up an extension phone on the same line and listening for dial tone vs. distinctive modem noise.

If they are on anything but dialup, unless they have physically disconnected the connection (or they have a broadband connection that shows with lights whether the connection is active or not) they are connected like it or not.

If it IS a malicious program using dialup, I'd unplug the phone line from either the computer or the wall when you don't intentionally want to be online until you get the problem solved.

Fred
August 13, 2008 12:19 AM

Often when a computer is connected to an ADSL modem, it will show connected at 100Mbps even if the modem isn't connected to the net.

I don't know what other modems do since I haven't had that much experience.
My sattelite modem only shows connected when it really is, dialup has always done the same to me...

Ziggie
August 13, 2008 7:13 AM

The "connected" message in Windows simply verifies that there is something on the other end of the line that is responding. It guarantees nothing except that you can communicate to the next device on the network (the one in which you are directly plugged in).

--zigg

Bill Stevenson
August 13, 2008 3:35 PM

From the website of magma.ca it appears to be a legitimate ISP. It would really save a lot of conjecture if the OP could tell us whether they actually subscribe to magma.ca for dial-up internet or they use some other ISP and/or delivery. It makes a great deal of difference which internet supplier they are "definitely not connected (to)" when this balloon pops up.

If they actually are on dial-up with magma as their ISP, they are probably connecting to the ISP's 800 number, so there would be no traceable phone records, or potential charges. It would simply be a matter of correctly configuring the 'Options' settings as above, to eliminate the rogue connection. Malware wouldn't enter into it.

Similarly, if they currently have HI SPEED intenet access, checking under 'Options' will reveal whether a previous magma.ca dial-up account was configured on that machine and hasn't been disabled. That, likewise, could be corrected under 'Options'.

There's so much speculation necessary when we don't know if this is a new issue or one that has been around for a while, or it's one that suddenly materialized following some change.

The scary scenario would be if there is no magma.ca connection set up in 'Options'. I would not even think about going there without hearing back on the 'legitimate' scenarios; it would probably be a lot of speculation for nothing.

SpacemanBill

David
August 21, 2008 12:25 PM

Connected at 44 bps pretty much guarantees it's a dial-up connection. To makes sure you're "definately not connected", pick up your phone, if you hear a dialtone you're not connected, if you hear beeps and noises, you are...lol

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