DO NOT DOWNLOAD OR RUN THE FOLLOWING PROGRAMS.
When presented with a simple instruction, most people blindly follow it. This is the basis of social engineering. People download complete CRAP every day, that puts them at risk, because they are manipulated.
Don’t be manipulated.
The best thing you can do is click “NO” or “CANCEL” when asked to install ANYTHING.
I know it’s tempting. You see a pop up that says: “Is your computer running slow? Click here to speed it up!”
DON’T DO IT
You see a pop-up: “Do you want to install xyz toolbar with that?”
DON’T DO IT
DO NOT INSTALL ANYTHING FOR ANY REASON, unless you specifically found it and downloaded it, for a specific purpose. You want a music app… you google “greatest music app”… you download “TheGreatestMusicApp”… You install TheGreatestMusicApp. SUCCESS!
You download “TheGreatestMusicApp”, and it says, “SCAN MY PC FOR FREE!” “SPEEED BOOOST!” or whatever. JUST STOP! NO. NO. NO! DO NOT EVER DOWNLOAD AND RUN THIS CRAP! JUST SAY NO!
EVERYTHING YOU INSTALL IS PROBABLY A VIRUS! If people STOPPED CLICKING YES, and just hit “CANCEL” OR “NO”, there would be virtually no adware, crapware, or spyware.
2. Things to NEVER download
Here are some key words to NOT download. If you see any of these, no matter how tempting, DO NOT DOWNLOAD IT! DO NOT INSTALL IT! DO NOT RUN IT! JUST… DO….NOT!!!!
HERE IS A BY-FAR INCOMPLETE LIST OF BAD THINGS:
- “toolbar” — ALL tool bars are bad. ALL OF THEM. YES, even THAT one. BAAAAD. NO INSTALL TOOOL BAAAR. Even the ones that sound friendly or useful. JUST SAY NO! It’s stealing your personal information and sending it to some Russian company that will steal your identity.
- “booster” / “speed booster” / “speed up my PC” — IT WILL NOT! Do not. There is no “boost”. There is only pain and agony. And maybe, some asshole in Jackassistan is going to encrypt your files and then extort you, by holding your files for ransom. DO NOT. INSTALL. ANY. BOOSTER. EVER.
- “scan” — BUT IT’S HELPING ME!!! NO!!! It’s a trap! “Scan” means “scare you in to buying”.
- “download helper” / “download manager” — Here’s a hint: (it’s NOT HELPING, and it’s NOT MANAGING). How is downloading and installing some file, going to help you download some other file. NO. DO NOT EVER DO THIS. If you don’t get the file, go to another website! “Download Manager” is Chinese or Russian for “install spyware”.
- “coupon” / “deal” — Legitimate resellers will post legitimate coupons on legitimate websites. You don’t need a toolbar to get coupons. All you get are “ad words” that monitor and modify your browsing activity, and highlight “interesting” words with a link to sponsored websites. “Coupon” or “deal” is a code word for “SHOVING POP UP ADS IN TO YOUR FACE”. Go ahead and install this if YOU WANT POP UP ADS SHOVED IN YOUR FACE.
- “plugin” — OH the classic. “A plugin is required in order to view this content.” RUN FAR AWAY!! That’s code for, “you’re trying to view something illegal, and by clicking yes, you will install a virus or ransomware, that will MESS UP YOUR COMPUTER”.
- “free trial” — NOT FREE. NOT TRIAL. Spyware or scareware. Guaranteed.
- Oh, I recognize this company! Right. No, you don’t. UNLESS you go to company xyz website, DO NOT INSTALL xyz software.
3. Things You SHOULD DO
- Download ONLY from trusted sources.
- rpm.net / kernel.org (Linux)
- Official repository or website for xyz application
- <RANT> DO NOT EVER DOWNLOAD SOMETHING THAT YOU DIDN’T ASK FOR. I’m repeating myself, but DON’T EVER DOWNLOAD ANYTHING THAT YOU DIDN’T ASK FOR. </RANT>
- Scan every download with your Antivirus software. Most antivirus programs allow you to right-click the program or folder, and select scan for viruses. <RANT> JUST DO THIS ALWAYS! ALWAYS! Oh… except…. NO… JUST ALWAYS DO IT! </RANT>
- When you click “Install” or “Setup”, look at every screen. Do not blindly click “Next Next OK”. If one screen says, “free trial”, or any of the NEGATORY code words, just cancel. Also, never select “express” install. Always do “custom install” if the option is a available, because some installers hide crapware install screens that you can only DESELECT during a custom install. Whatever benefit you think you will gain from installing the app, if you can’t bypass the spyware, you’re causing yourself MORE PAIN. When you install spyware and viruses, you have no one to thank but yourself!
- Copy any link in to Google. If the link is legitimate, Google will respond with the link in its results. If not, Google will pop up a warning, claiming that this might not be a legitimate site.
- When in doubt, Google. If you have a question about something, GOOGLE IT. Type the message or program in to Google. Google will give you a fairly honest assessment about the application in question.
- DO NOT RUN INTERNET EXPLORER. The big, friendly, blue “e” will both invite and allow every piece of malicious software on to your hard drive, where it’s almost impossible to remove. RUN FIREFOX OR CHROME as your primary browser.
- BLUE “e” MEANS VIRUSES. Don’t use the blue “e“. EVER. Delete all the blue “e” icons. Make sure your wife, kids, and guests know, or log in as them and delete all of their blue “e” icons.
- Force Guests to log in as “Guest”. By default, the Guest account is disabled. Enable Guest access, create a Guest password, and enforce that your guests need to log in as Guest. Guest has no permissions to install software, and can’t infect your system with viruses (intentionally or unintentionally).
4. DO NOT…
- DO NOT Click on links from your e-mail. Go to the website, or go to Google, and type the name of the company. E.g. google, “Pizza hut”, to make sure you get the right website, and not some Russian scammer trying to steal your credit card. “Oh you got a special deal” — GOOGLE for the deal! A known, trusted link will show up, or maybe the deal is fake! <RANT> DID YOU EVER THINK OF THAT??? SCAMMERS TRYING TO CHEAT YOU WITH A FAKE DEAL? It could never happen! </RANT> I know you think this is unfathomable, but it’s fathomable. Google has built-in algorithms that will protect you from bad links. TRUST GOOGLE.
- DO NOT Install ANYTHING EVER. You have all the software you need. If not, GOOGLE FOR IT. DO NOT install something, thinking, “I might use this later”. You’ll never use it. If you need it later, INSTALL IT LATER.
5. Stick to Popular Software and Packages
Every software developer has their own solution. Instead, stick to standards.
- Open compressed files: 7-Zip
- View videos: VLC
- View Acrobat PDF (Portable Document Format) Files: Chrome Browser
- View Adobe Flash: Chrome Browser
6. Avoid Buggy / Weak Code
- Don’t install Java unless you really need it. Most people DO NOT NEED JAVA. Uninstall it.
- Don’t use Adobe Flash or PDF (Acrobat) plugins – use Google Chrome instead.
Avoiding these will save you innumerable updates, and remove the possibility of someone exploiting vulnerable code running on your PC.
- DO NOT click on any pop-up ads suggesting that your PC is broken, in need of repair, needs a free “scan”, nor offering to speed your PC up
- DO NOT install any toolbar ever.
- DO NOT install any download managers.
- DO NOT install any software offering a “free trial”
- DO NOT install any coupon bar / deal bar
- If a website suggests that you need a plugin to view its content, use Chrome or Firefox. If you can’t view the website using Chrome or Firefox WITHOUT the plugin, you MOST LIKELY don’t need to be viewing that content nor visiting that website.
- DO NOT install software “you think you recognize”.
- DO download only from trusted sources, such as the software developer’s website
- DO scan every download with your antivirus software
- DO use Google to help detect malicious software and links, by copying link or messages in to Google. Legitimate links will appear in the search results, while malicious ones should display a warning.
- DO look at every screen while installing a new program. Select “custom setup” where available, and look for screens that say “install this toolbar” or “install free trial of…”. TURN THEM OFF during installation, or bail out and find another download site.
- DO NOT run Internet Explorer. Instead, use Chrome or Firefox, and just delete the blue “e” icon. Make sure to delete it from the profiles of your wife, kids, and “Guest”
- DO Enable the “Guest” user profile and force guests to use it. This keeps people from installing crapware because they think you need it, or because they think THEY need it.
- DO NOT click on links from e-mail. Instead, go directly to the company’s website, or use Google to find the right website.
- DO NOT install anything ever, unless you specifically need and want it installed.
There are a lot of rules here, but they all have one common theme:
ASSUME EVERY LINK OR PROGRAM IS DESIGNED TO STEAL YOUR IDENTITY OR BREAK YOUR COMPUTER. Handle with care, accordingly.