How to Avoid Evil Add-Ons and Hijackers in Windows 8

Windows 8 packs several guns to combat add-ons that spy on your activities, bombard your screen with additional ads, or redirect your home page to another site. First, if any site tries to place a program onto your computer, Internet Explorer quickly blocks it. Then Internet Explorer places a warning message across the bottom of Internet Explorer’s screen.

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Sure you want the program? Then click the Install button to install the program. Then click the Enable button to turn on your new Internet Explorer add-on.

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Unfortunately, Internet Explorer can’t tell the good downloads from the bad, leaving the burden of proof to you. So, if you see a message like the one shown and you haven’t requested a download, chances are good that the site is trying to harm you: Don’t click the Install button. Instead, click one of your Favorite links or your Home icon to quickly move to a new website.

If a bad add-on creeps in somehow, you’re not completely out of luck. Internet Explorer’s Add-On Manager lets you disable it. To see all the add-on programs installed in Internet Explorer (and remove any that you know are bad, unnecessary, or just plain bothersome), follow these steps:

  1. Click Internet Explorer’s Tools menu and choose Manage Add-Ons.

    The Manage Add-Ons window appears, letting you see all currently loaded add-ons.

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  2. Click the add-on that gives you trouble and click the Disable button.

    Can’t find the unwanted add-on? Click the Show drop-down list to toggle between seeing All Add-Ons, Currently Loaded Add-Ons, Run Without Permission, and Downloaded Controls.

    When you spot the name of an unwanted toolbar or other bad program, purge it by clicking its name and clicking the Disable button.

  3. Repeat the process for each unwanted add-on and then click the Close button.

    You may need to restart Internet Explorer for the change to take effect.

Not all add-ons are bad. Many good ones let you play movies, hear sounds, or view special content on a website. Don’t delete an add-on simply because it’s listed in the Add-On Manager.

  • In the rare instance that disabling an add-on prevents an important website from loading, click that add-on’s name in Step 2 of the preceding steps and click the Enable button to return it to working order.

  • How the heck do you tell the good add-ons from the bad? Unfortunately, there’s no sure way of telling, although the name listed under Publisher provides one clue. Do you recognize the publisher or remember installing its program? Instead of scratching your head later, think hard before installing things Internet Explorer has tried to block.

  • Make sure that Internet Explorer’s pop-up blocker runs by choosing Pop-Up Blocker from the Tools menu. If you see Turn Off Pop-Up Blocker in the pop-up menu, you’re all set. If you see Turn On Pop-Up Blocker, click the command to turn it back on.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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