June 8, 2014

Wait, what? What happened to my browser?

I am not a computer expert. But, I've been working with them long enough that family and friends often ask me to check out their computers to find out what happened. Is it a virus? Ouch! 

A family member recently had the experience of Microsoft Internet Explorer not working at all. I had to check it out because I'd never heard of this. Sure enough, when I launched the program I got nothing but a big white screen. Hmmm... I noticed some unusual icons on her desktop for this or that browser, some of which I'd never heard of. Time to enter her Windows 7 Control Panel to investigate.

There, I found numerous applications that I knew she had not installed, including the offending alien Web browsers. So, I started uninstalling them after using a known good browser (Mozilla Firefox) to Google the applications to see what they are. The investigation revealed that these applications and unknown Web browsers had been installed by free software that she and her other family members had downloaded from the Internet, mostly games, of course.

Harsh statement alert—It's your fault. Usually, the viruses, malware and other unwanted software enter your computer because you invited them in willingly by clicking "I agree to the terms of the software license," without reading those terms. The most notorious of these are the phony antivirus programs that, once installed, warn you that viruses might be lurking in your computer, and if you register this program for only $35 (or whatever the price is these days), we will "fix" your computer, which usually never had a virus in the first place. Lies? Dishonesty? Thievery? Yes, but you allowed it to happen to you. Read those license agreements.

I like free software too, but I read the license agreements before clicking "I agree." A certain computer magazine frequently lists free software to try with reviews telling you why you should. I started to try one the other day, but stopped short because of the terms in the license agreement. I thought about not naming the software company here, but changed my mind. I want to give the company credit for doing a  marvelous job of warning users that they should read the terms. The warning came in the form of a flashing red message: "IMPORTANT—READ THE TERMS FIRST" or words to that effect.

Here is an excerpt copied and pasted directly from their terms of use:

"Only the main GUI (Graphical User Interface) of SUPER © is written by eRightSoft. However, this installation package contains as well other executable files written by third party sponsors that will be launched by simply clicking on the "I ACCEPT THE AGREEMENT" button. Some of these third party companies may recommend or provide advertisements about various services or may even download and install several other softwares or toolbars that replace your current browser's homepage and modify your default browser's search engine. Note that during the installation process your web browser might be launched  to open and display some advertisements or related information.

Un Installing

When you UnInstall SUPER © from your PC machine, you wipe out the files related to the application itself. However, some or all of the third party companies recommendations softwares or toolbars may still be installed on your PC machine.

UnInstalling SUPER © from your PC machine does not remove the related registry modifications applied to your PC machine during the installation. Each  recommendations software has to be uninstalled separately through the "Configuration Panel". 

eRightSoft does not have any information about the recommended softwares and toolbars offered by the third party companies, therefore eRightSoft cannot provide any technical support or help on how to remove or un-install those recommended softwares and toolbars offered by the third party sponsor companies."
And furthermore, the installation routine left a shortcut on my desktop named “Continue installation – Super © Installation.” Checking the properties for the shortcut, I found that it had deposited and pointed to an unwanted executable file on my computer in this path: C:\Users\Will\AppData\Local\Temp\sam__2268_il1376078.exe  /rsm. However, when I searched in the temp folder, the offending executable was not there. Maybe it was gone because I canceled the installation.
OK, you've been warned. Next time you get bad stuff in your computer, accept the possibility that you might have invited it in. Thanks for reading; please feel free to comment below.
© 2014 Will Daniel

1 comment:

  1. I learned these things the hard way. My favorite is the ones that tell me 'I don't have the authority to remove them. It's my damn computer!! lol


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