The danger of installing “free” programs from the Internet

BrowseSmart is an adware program, that displays pop-up ads and advertisements on web pages that you visit. The “Ads by BrowseSmart” advertisements will be shown as boxes containing various coupons that are available, as underlined keywords, pop-up ads or advertising banners. What is BrowseSmart? BrowseSmart is advertised as a program that displays coupons for sites …

Source: Remove “Ads By BrowseSmart” virus (Easy Removal Guide)

Many websites like CNET or so on offer “free” programs. These programs come bundled with software that are designed to make money for the company that added them to the site. I had a customer download one of those files and when they installed it, they also had installed this BrowseSmart program. This program like many unwanted programs is designed to download other unwanted applications and also change how your browser works. It randomly changes links and has pop up windows with advertising. Not software you want on your computer.

This was cleaned by Sophos easily. It required a reboot of the computer but then it was gone. Sophos has been fantastic. I have everyone I know using it and only once have I had to use a competing product to clean something it found. It found a malware rootkit that it said would have to be deleted manually. The instructions for it were complicated and time-consuming so I used Malwarebytes and it removed it.

I shared earlier an article that the reason that email spam is decreasing is because criminals are focusing more on malware. Programs that infect your computer and attempt to make money in various ways. This malware can generally be easily cleaned and protect you using a good Endpoint protection program. Since the threats now are more than just viruses, endpoint protects more than used to be protected. It is great that as the threat is increasing, security is also increasing. Since I mostly help people with Windows computers I personally use a Mac at home with Sophos. I only encounter a virus when I go to a webpage that has one. If there was some way to filter viruses and malware on an ISP level that would take out much of the danger. Its strange isn’t it? President Obama said Internet access is a right and a utility like electricity. However would we allow bad electricity that could damage our equipment and data? It’s strange that ISPs say that they have no responsibility for filtering yet inject ads in the data-stream thereby showing that they can filter at the data level.

It’s clear that ISP’s are doing what is beneficial to them. Short sighted behavior increases complexity and costs for everyone.

Seeing less spam in your inbox? Here is why.

Junk mail or spam has fallen to less than 50% of all the email scanned in June by security firm Symantec.

Source: Spam email levels at 12-year low – BBC News

The article states that criminals are instead turning to malware to make money. So do you have malware & antivirus protection? The new term for this combined protection is called “endpoint” protection. The Sophos program I spoke about earlier is considered endpoint protection and marketed to businesses and Macintosh.

If you have a PC then the free Avast or Avira seem to be a popular and well regarded choice. They also offer paid versions as well.

The bottom line for spam seems to be that both legal action against spammers and more intelligent filtering is reducing their effectiveness. I would love to have a legally mandated intervention for any email that has suspicious key words. If someone thinks that sending money to a Nigerian prince is going to make them rich they need help in more ways than one.

What is amazing to me is that spam has existed for so long but people haven’t learned the lesson. You don’t reply to it, you don’t support it, and you never buy anything from it. I personally will take action with people who spam me and ask them to stop and if they don’t then they get reported. There is no excuse for spamming someone who has never done business with you. This seems to be an increasingly frequent occurrence on LinkedIn and it may doom its usefulness to me.