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Playing Russian Roulette with your PC

posted Feb 8, 2014, 7:29 PM by Daryl du Plessis

Installing free programs from the internet is a bit like Russian roulette these days. You never know which one is going to be the live bullet that infects your PC with any manner of malware. It is tempting to download and install any manner of useful utilities that can be found free on the internet but it is easy to get tricked into installing malicious 3rd party apps along the way.

I was installing a free app used for system monitoring and even though I carefully checked all the boxes when running through the installer I almost got caught out, because only way to not install the 3rd party app was to close the installer. Once I did this the original installer kicked in and finished the installation but I was intentionally given what looked like only one way to proceed, by clicking Next and installing the additional software. It’s tricks like these that we need to be aware of when installing programs. Always check the options and deselect the additional toolbars, PC optimisation programs and anything else that you didn’t specifically ask for.

If you do need to install an app you do not trust 100%, then you can mitigate the damage by performing a scan on the downloaded file with your AV scanner (usually just need to right click on the file and select the option to scan for viruses). This alone won’t give you complete surety so it will pay to create a system restore point before you proceed with the installation. You can do this by going to Control Panel and search for “system restore” (search can be found in the top right corner of the Control Panel window). Select the option to create a restore point and step through the wizard. Once this is done you can (carefully) run through the app installation. If you find that you are having troubles after the install, you can then roll back to the restore point which will remove the offending files and settings.

Lastly, it pays to install apps only from trusted sources. With Windows 8, Microsoft have created a Windows App store that provides a level of legitimacy and a safe place to access apps. It is also worth getting references from trusted websites or blogs. The least trustworthy option is to download software from random torrent sites. It is just not worth the trouble caused by installing dodgy software. If you would like to know more about system restore, take a look at the link below.