Parasites … nobody wants them.
But you almost certainly have at least one, in your computer. Did you ever wonder how a Ask, Yahoo, AVG or other browser search toolbar suddenly appeared on your computer screen? Or why instead of going to Google your searches now go to Conduit or Visual Bee or Mixmeister or Scour Search or IB or Delta Search? Or why your machine now has a new “scanner” which is telling you that you have to defragment, devirus, adjust your Internet settings or pay to ‘upgrade’ some software?
This is a result of “parasitic” software being installed on your machine along with legitimate software you have bought or downloaded. There is an increasing trend with shareware and freeware authors and download sites, (even historically reliable sites like C|Net Download.com), to accept money from less reputable developers to bundle installers for their software into the installer for the program you actually intended to get.
You download your program installer, and open up the installer program. It whirs for a while and then shows you a dialog box that asks you to confirm. Now you need to be extra vigilant and read the messages that the installer puts in front of you. One of their sneaky tactics is to interrupt the installation of the program you want with a screen that says “We recommend that you install SneakySoft software for a better internet experience” and then gives you a choice Cancel or Next Step – this makes it sound like cancelling will bail out of the install of the program that you want and the Next Step is the most logical choice.
Don’t Do It! 99.99 percent of the time you do not want any of these add on programs, they will load down your machine, and they only benefit the SneakySoft company, typically by redirecting your search engine searches to their own search pages on which they get paid to deliver advertising or redirect you to advertising, virus-delivery or porn sites.
Read the dialog box carefully, and choose the option that bypasses installation of unwanted programs. Don’t accept the “recommended installation”. If there doesn’t seem to be any option to not install parasitic software, then cancel the installation entirely and choose a different program to use.
Also make sure also that you Uncheck each of the option checkboxes that suggest “also install….” (some of the companies are getting really cute and reversing this, making you CHECK the box if you DON’T want to install the add ons.)
Remember the only reason these programs are in there is that the developer has bribed the download site or the software author to try to trick you into installing something you didn’t ask for and probably don’t want. Worst case scenario is that the bundled software is actually malware that can infect your machine or steal your information.
We have a couple of articles for removing search engine settings from your browser. It is not as easy as hitting Uninstall, there is some tedious poking around in the browser settings to do. Visual Bee and Conduit removal (and general procedures for any browser search settings hijack). Scour removal
Partial list of rogue search engine hijackers, toolbars and “helpers” commonly bundled with other software installers, and links to removal instructions
- 22Find www.bleepingcomputer.com/virus-removal/remove-22find-com-browser-hijacker
- Adsponsor, GetModule www.bleepingcomputer.com/startups/GetModule30-26611.html
- BabylonToolbar www.bleepingcomputer.com/startups/BabylonToolbarsrv.exe-26441.html
- Blekko Toolbar malwaretips.com/blogs/remove-blekko-search/
- Certified Toolbar, Protected Toolbar, search.certified www.bleepingcomputer.com/virus-removal/remove-search.certified-toolbar.com-hijacker
- Conduit Search, SearchProtectAll www.bleepingcomputer.com/startups/cltmng.exe-27499.html
- CouponAlert, CouponAlert_2p Browser Plugin Loader www.bleepingcomputer.com/startups/CouponAlert_2p_Browser_Plugin_Loader-26680.html
- Coupon Drop Down www.bleepingcomputer.com/virus-removal/remove-coupondropdown
- DataMngrUI MediaBar, DataManager UI www.bleepingcomputer.com/startups/DataMngrUI.exe-26260.html
- Delta Search http://www.wintips.org/remove-delta-search-adware/
- Discount Dragon – difficult to remove if it installs itself as a policy in Google Chrome.
- FineTop www.bleepingcomputer.com/startups/FineTop-26684.html
- Freesoft Today (FST_CA_39)
- Industrya Toolbar
- MyPCBackup forums.anvisoft.com/viewtopic-55-7017-0.html
- Scour Toolbar, VMN Toolbar http://malwaretips.com/blogs/remove-scour-toolbar/
- click.scour, Scour Search redirect malwaretips.com/blogs/click-scour-com-redirect-virus/
- SearchSettings www.bleepingcomputer.com/startups/SearchSettings.exe-26217.html
- Snap.Do (search.snap.do) www.techsupportall.com/how-to-remove-snap-do-search-from-chrome-firefox-ie/
- SponsorKeyword, sponsormatch at Bleeping Computer www.symantec.com/security_response/writeup.jsp?docid=2012-033010-2451-99&tabid=2
- The Browser Highlighter (TBH) http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/startups/tbhMonitor.exe-26204.html
- UTab www.bleepingcomputer.com/startups/UTab-26682.html
- Visual Bee Search www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/481288/vb-or-visual-bee-malicious-tool-bar-how-to-remove-safely/
- WebConfig www.bleepingcomputer.com/startups/WebConfig-27512.html
- WiseSearch, adhelp.exe, rolypop www.bleepingcomputer.com/startups/WiseSearch-27448.html
Even well known programs like Norton Anti Virus ‘offer’ to change your search engine, Adobe flash wants you to have McAfee, and the Oracle Java installer tries to install the Ask toolbar.
Partial list of programs which have been reported to bundle malware or parasitic software. The number of programs, browser add-ons, video codecs, utilities, and others that have unwanted bundled installers is endless, these are just a few. Avoid downloading or installing these programs. Downloadable programs that advertise optimizing, speeding up your computer, fixing your registry, boosting your download speeds and seeing who is ‘spying’ on you have been historically poor choices. Lately we have seen a proliferation of ‘deals’, coupons and discounts software loaded with unwanted installers – I would avoid the entire category.
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