Please be careful, when downloading/installing software or software updates, that you uncheck any “also install …” boxes. Even legitimate program updates, such as Java, now contain unnecessary and often bothersome software along with the critical program update.
For example, see below:
Notice that checkbox we’ve circled for you? Oracle, the company that owns Java, hopes you don’t, because they get paid for including unnecessary junk with their software. But now you will notice it, and you’ll know to uncheck the box, right?
Another way that software gets installed without your knowledge is if you go to a hacked web site, or if you accidentally go to the wrong web site. For example, suppose you are checking out colleges in Pennsylvania. Www.passhe.edu takes you to a nice web site about the affordable state university system in Pennsylvania. but replace the “.edu” with “.com” and you are taken to a malicious website: super-savings.buynig. com (DON’T GO THERE!!) These kinds of URL errors can happen to anyone through carelessness or typos.
Even with the best anti-virus software, these programs will frequently get through. Why? Because they’re not technically viruses. Technically they’re not even malware, because they generally don’t perform malicious tasks on your computer. They may simply change your default search engine, or add an unnecessary browser toolbar or a pop-up advertisement when your computer starts.
Besides, you gave them permission to install their junk. So if you go to a web site and an hysterically large flashing message pops up demanding that you install a new program to view the site, be extremely hesitant to do so.
Next month we’ll give you a suggestion on how to make URL errors much less likely using alternative DNS services. Until then, safe browsing, and watch out for sneaky program installation check boxes!