Watch Out for Sneaky Program Installations

by Roberta Piket on May 20, 2013

in News, Tech Thoughts and Tips

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:

ask_java_hidden

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!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Felicia Glucksman May 28, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Always notice those checked boxes. Very sneaky. Thanks Roberta for reminding all of us.

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Katherine Rabinowitz June 16, 2013 at 10:01 am

I read the post about unchecking the box on a Java update. My question is when something pops up to “update” besides Java (e.g. Adobe) how to I know it’s legit and safe to download. In the past I’ve ignored and clicked off pretty much every single one that pops up. If there are some programs I should be updating, I’d like to know what they are. Thanks. Katherine

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Roberta Piket June 16, 2013 at 10:10 am

I address that in an upcoming post. So stay tuned!

Reply

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