Safer Hex?

With all the threads on adware / spyware, I’d love any hints people have on how to prevent these things from getting installed.

Papa Zappa and I have (we like to believe, anyway) enough sense not to randomly click “OK” and let things download. So far, we’ve been lucky and haven’t seen any evidence of malware on the 'puter (no odd behavior, no popups, no performance degradation etc.). But we’ve seen lots of instances in which a fairly innocent web search pulls up one of those d*mn “fake search pages” that attempts to reset our home page, and the other day another innocent-seeming web page tried to download Gain (we clicked “no”, of course).

And we’ve got a curious kid who’s starting to want to surf the web a little. So far he’s content with stuff like Cartoon Network and can’t quite figure out how to type in a new URL… but when he does, look out! At the very least, he’ll type things wrong and we’ll have embarassing questions to answer!

Anyway - are there any tricks we can do to prevent him from clicking “OK” and downloading the wrong thing by accident? like, “must specify a password before you can download a file”. What about limiting the possible URLs he can go to, to only those values we’ve pre-approved? (we tried that with something called Bounce, that never quite worked).

We’re running XP Home with Internet Exploder, for what that’s worth…

If you go into Internet Options (it’s under the Tools menu in Internet Explorer), you can change the Security settings to only allow access to sites you approve (MS calls this your “Trusted Sites” list), or to block specific sites if you prefer. Other options available under this tab will allow you to disable downloads entirely or only allow downloads from certain sites, and disable JavaScripts (which will prevent some of those “Click OK!” popups). You can password-protect these settings if you so choose.

You can also go under the Content tab and set restrictions on the “maturity level” of accessible sites, although MS’s method of doing so is a bit sketchy – if this sort of thing concerns you, you might want to try a third-party program such as NetNanny. Hope this helps.


(incidentally, “Internet Exploder”…deliberate pun, or eerily accurate typo?)

ZoneAlarm, Adaware, your favourite virus-checker, and Spybot are your friends.

I would guess deliberate, as I have seen it before. I often use Nutscrape as my browser, btw.

Get Firefox and you will have a lot less spyware problems - some spyware programs can install themselves automatically just by opening an IE page. Also, get Spybot Search & Destroy, and be sure to use the Immunization option.

To keep your kid from accessing inapprioate sites, I reccomend getting some filter software - like NetNanny mentioned above. Though remember, in a couple years your kid will eventually figure out how to disable it; filtering only works for younger or stupid children; any older kid (>10-11yr) who can’t disable filtering is too stupid to be let on the net.

Mama Zappa— The recommendations you’ve gotten for AdAware and SpyBot are very good. In addition, I strongly recommend you download, run, and keep updated SpywareBlaster, a program that sets “kill bits” for hundreds of the most common pieces of ActiveX and applet-based malware. In other words, it makes it impossible for those bits of code to even run on your machine, so they don’t get a chance to put bad stuff on your computer in the first place.