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Sneaky Toolbars

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Hi, everyone! My medical adventures continue as now I’m laid up wit a dicky leg, but otherwise I’m feeling better, so it’s time to stop procrastinating and get back to the business of blogging, this time about Sneaky Toolbars. Or should that be Snarky?

Java & The Ask ToolbarOK. Let’s get techie. I’ve blogged about malicious toolbars and totally unrelated applications being installed along with the software you want, but things most certainly have gotten worse since then. It’s not so much that there are more toolbars and inane applications, but they have gotten more sneaky in how they trick you into installing them. For years, applications like Java, which frequently issues updates, had included the Ask toolbar and search app but the dialog box was obvious and there was a tick box (already ticked, of course) for the install and all you need do was to untick it. Now, the dialog box has become a bit more insidious. There is no overall tick box to clear. You must now untick both of the option boxes, neither one of which says it will prevent the installation. There is a tiny bit of text at the extreme bottom of the box that says unticking the two boxes will allow the Java update continue without the nasty little search app and toolbar. They are counting on confusing people into clicking the “Next” button without understanding to what they are agreeing. After all, they get paid by Ask for each installation even if it is unintentional. Who knew that Oracle needs the money sooo desperately.

Another bit of trickery is brought to you by a video editing application I use quite often called “Super C” by eRightSoft. Allow me, first off, to state that “Super C” is a fantastic audio and video conversion application and is totally free, so I do not begrudge them making a bit of money from imbedded installations as long as you knowingly agree to it. They are counting on us not taking the time to read the things to which we are agreeing. Keep in mind that the disclosures that are there for the reading are legally binding contracts.

List of NastiesWhat they do is to throw up pop-up dialog boxes that look pretty much like they are the next in a line of install boxes stating which app is about to be installed. The first box gives a list of legalese which says you agree to install all sorts of things, including a download manager which will stay installed even if you uninstall “Super C”. This will happen if you click “Next”. To stop it from installing, click the Custom Install button then click “Next”. The next dialog box lists nine (Yes, 9!!) items of useless software they are about to install unless you unclick each and every box separately. But pay attention because the sneakiness is not done yet!

Abort the Install? Fuck, Yes!When you unclick a button, you get a dialog box that reads you removed the app and that it will affect your computer (which it won’t as it hasn’t been installed yet) and asks if you want to abort. Ones natural inclination is to click on OK, but that leaves you with the app still selected and ready to install! What you need do is to counter-intuitively click on “Cancel” which then unticks the selection in the main dialog box. Then you get to do it eight more times. Sigh.

Evil, Evil, App!But are you done with the nasty little apps you don’t want? By no means. The next dialog box tries to install one of those performance boosters which make all sorts of unknown modifications to you system which rarely do anything but muck things up. But if you click “Next” you’ll get it. You must click on the little word “Decline” under the last line of text. Next is a dialog box for some weather alert program. Click “Decline”. Then something called “KNCTR” which is a social media organizer. Again, click “Decline.

Weather ReportThen comes the real tricky part. Even though you are not installing any of the 13 bits of trashware, it says it is installing your applications when it is not and then says that the installation is complete when nothing has been installed. This is a gambit to get you to click on cancel in the original licencing box so you will then have to go through the whole thing all over again. Click “Next” to begin the installation of the package you wanted all along.

Social Media Organizer? The next box allows you to select whether or not you want a desktop icon and to then click “Next”. Go ahead. It’s safe. Finally, it’s ready to install. Click “Install”! The last dialog box which says the last step may take a couple of minutes to complete pops up (for me, anyway) after the install is complete. Click “Next” to finish the ordeal. Next pops up a harmless dialog box that announces once again that it is done and asks if you want to run the app. Whether you do or not, clearing this box brings up one last box recommending you reboot. It then launches your default browser to it’s webpage.

Hardly seems worth it, but the app does work very well, is powerful and is otherwise free. Thank goodness you do not need to go through all this kerfuffle when updates are issued! In the end, please read dialog boxes carefully when you install things and do not reflexively click “Next”. You never know what you’ll end up with!

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