Friday, September 29

The war of toolbar

Yahoo has inked an agreement with HP to install Yahoo toolbar in HP's new personal computers. HP users will have Yahoo services automatically. If they don't like Yahoo email, Yahoo messenger, and Yahoo search, they can uninstall the toolbar afterward. How many of them will do so?

We all know that users are lazy. Most users use tools which are easy to get. If Yahoo search is the default search engine, they don't want to change it to others, as long as the Yahoo servers are alive. To promote their services, Yahoo and Google has started a war in user's desktop: Yahoo signed contract with computer makers HP and Acer, when Google had deals with Dell, Adobe, News Corp. If you occupied user's desktop, you are the king.

Not only Yahoo and Google know this rule. Microsoft has its MSN Toolbar. A lot of spyware are designed as a toolbar too. Toolbar has gotten a little bit out of control recently. Most toolbars have similar features: Internet searching, Ad Blocking, Shortcuts to different channels. If you trust the host, and you like using those services, toolbar can actually facilitate your Internet browsing. But many PC users have many toolbars installed. Some toolbars are installed by BadWare quietly, but the users are too lazy to uninstall them: Because they may be reinstalled, if the users don't know how to prevent BadWare.

Toolbars are not only providing shortcuts to searching service of their host, but also collecting users' browsing activities. Most websites are ad-driven, and the websites wants to know users' browsing habit so that they can put corresponding advertisements to users, and increase the chance that users actually read the advertisements and purchase the items: That is how the advertisement companies and websites earn money.In this deal, user's privacy is compromised. The websites get the browsing habits of user, and they sell this information to advertisement companies.

Some toolbars also collect user's personal information, even credit card number, social security number, bank account/password.

Be aware of your fragile security. Antivirus software and Firewall can not protect you from this kind of software, because they look like legitimate software.

If you like the service of toolbars, please select toolbar from reputable company. At least, you should aware of the dangeous of toolbar. You should aware of dangeous of any software you install into computer. Any software can be virus, can be trojan horse, and it can destroy all data in your computer or steal your information. So, please make sure you know what you are doing when you download and install software from Internet. Internet is a very dangeous territory, and there are many bad guys out there looking for xxxx(?). My suggestion about installing new software is:

1, Think again: do you really need this software? If you randomly come cross a software, don't install it. Unless you need a new software to do your job, or your best educated friend introduced a software to you, don't install anything new. If you get a prompted message saying "Please install xxxx software to browse this website" when you are surfing Internet, always click "no".

2, Is this software made by a trustful company? If you know the software developer who make this software, and you know she won't attack you, go ahead to install it. If it is made by a small company you've never heard of, you should Google the company to check its reputation. If it is made by a big company like Sony, you can trust it. It might be a badware too, but the chance is very low.

3, Is it downloaded from trustful source? Some users Google software's name and download it from any website. Some hackers create virus using the same name of a useful software and distribute them to Internet. Some websites save these virus thinking of them as useful software. So if a software is not downloaded from trustful source, your company can be compromised.

4, Do you have antivirus software and latest patches?



At September 29, 2006 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool topic. This is a very well written piece.

Long post may take more time but is worthwhile.

Keep up good work.

At October 01, 2006 7:45 PM, Blogger Petersmithers said...

All these guys try their damdest to get toolbars installed in users browsers...why do you think they try so hard? I'll tell you - there is no value in having any of these toolbars thats why. These new folks at congoo have the right idea...they need to improve their product and then everyone will actually want their toolbar...they wont have to strike deals with folks to sneak it into peoples browsers!


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