Browser Toolbars – almost malware?
by Thomas Salomon, head of AVAST Software's German Software Development team
In a previous blog post we wrote about the statistics from Avast Browser Cleanup. These statistics have become even worse:
As we can easily see the numbers are still rising. It’s now time to share some more details about the bad add-ons we’ve noticed so far.
As already mentioned in the last blog post, we analyzed many of these add-ons in order to learn how they behave, how we can remove them, and what we should expect in the future. During this analysis it became clear that the bad add-ons are even worse than we initially thought. In fact, a high percentage of add-ons installed on our customers’ computers behave similarly to malware. The common name for such “programs in-between” is grayware. You could also call them "Malware with a EULA".
One of the most interesting (or rather, scary) features of grayware are the techniques used to prevent removal. Some of the vendors are very creative:
So what can you do in order to prevent such grayware making it to your computer? There is one simple rule which should prevent them quite often (but not always):
Slow down and read carefully. The toolbars are most often 'opt-out' during the installation process of free software. That means the box allowing it to install is already checked for you. So carefully check and read each page presented to you by the installer. Uncheck everything if you are not sure what you are getting. If you are still unsure, you should avoid the software entirely and consider using another one.
In the worst case - if you have already captured such grayware – Avast Browser Cleanup helps you get your Internet Browser clean again. The tool is available for download here: http://files.avast.com/files/tools/avast-browser-cleanup.exe
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