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Avoid & Stop Adware, Popups & Spyware from being installed via ActiveX

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Are you tired of your PC being infected with adware and spyware from unscrupulous websites? Are you annoyed by the number of Popups & Popup ads you get on your computer? Well there's an easy way to stop the greedy scum of the earth from messing up your computer. It's a little time consuming at first to set it up, but Internet Explorer has all the tools you need for free.

The culprit here is Microsoft's web technology called ActiveX. ActiveX is normally used for good purposes such as allowing the Windows Update site to determine which updates your PC needs or to facilitate the running of Flash animations, but the creeps on the Internet are now using ActiveX to infect your machine with Adware (Popups) and spyware. If you get enough of this crap on your machine, it will bring it to it's knees.


Make sure you have an anti-virus program running and make sure it's virus definitions are up to date. If you do not run an up to date anti-virus program, then you have no right using the Internet. You have no excuse since you can get several anti-virus programs for free. AVG anti-virus and Avast anti-virus are two that come to mind. You can also get ETrust EZ Armor free for the first year. It includes a free firewall too, which you can optionally install. I highly recommend to users who use a dialup connection to have a software firewall to prevent Internet hackers from hacking into their PCs.


When it comes to e-mail, do not open any e-mail or attachments unless you were expecting that e-mail and/or attachment from the sender. If you use Outlook or Outlook Express, turn off any Preview Pane or Auto Preview, download your e-mail and before you open up any e-mail, go to File and click Work Offline. Now you can safely read your e-mail without the e-mail contacting a server on the Internet (so it cannot download a bad program or harvest your e-mail address). When you are done reading your e-mail then go to File and click Work Online. (Note: In Outlook Express, if you are showing your Status bar at the bottom of the window, then you'll see a Working Online icon. Just double click it to work offline and vise-versa to work online again.)


Unfortunately an anti-virus or firewall program will not protect you from adware or spyware. So you should install, update and run Ad-aware and Spybot Search & Destroy to clean your machine from adware & spyware. If they find culprits, be certain to check Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel to see if the offending program is listed there. If it is, then remove it with Add/Remove Programs and then rerun Ad-aware & Spybot again. In other words, it's always best to remove programs via Add/Remove Programs. Exception: Do not remove Windows Media Player in Add/Remove Programs. Use Ad-aware & Spybot as a last resort. Instructions for running these tools can be found in the Monthly Maintenance Instructions found on the Downloads & Links page.


Reset your security settings for Internet Explorer. Launch Internet Explorer and on the top toolbar click Tools and select Internet Options from the menu. Click the Security tab and click the Internet icon (the globe).

Click the Custom Level button.

Where it says "Reset custom settings", click the drop down arrow and select Medium from the list. It should now show Reset to: Medium in the window as shown above. Click the Reset button and click Yes if you get a warning. In the larger white window are your Internet security settings. In the section labeled "ActiveX controls and plug-ins" there are five settings we want to set. Set them to Prompt, Disable, Disable, Prompt and Prompt in that order as shown above and below. You should only need to change the last 2 of the 5 settings.

Click Ok and Yes to the Warning.

Optional: You can also Disable all five of the ActiveX settings to be prompted less, but if pages are not displaying fully or PDF documents are not displaying, then you'll have to add that site to your trusted zone, but only do this if you trust the site. I personally have my settings as shown to Prompt me on pages running ActiveX, but some people get really annoyed at the frequency of the prompts, so I advise them to Disable all five of the ActiveX settings.

You'll be back to the Security tab again. Click the Trusted sites icon (the green circle with a checkmark).

Click the Custom Level button.

Where it says "Reset custom settings", click the drop down arrow and select Medium from the list. It should now show Reset to: Medium in the window as shown above. Click the Reset button and click Yes to the warning. Do NOT change any of the other settings. Click OK.

Now when you visit web pages that run ActiveX a box will appear as shown below. (Unless you chose to disable all ActiveX as per the Optional paragraph above)

If you can trust the site, click Yes. I trust sites that are well known reputable companies. If I can figure out how the company is making money besides popups or infecting my machine with adware, then I'll trust the site and click Yes. If I don't know anything about the site (going to sites via search engines for example), then I click No. When you click No, another box will appear as shown below. (This box may appear, even if you disabled all ActiveX as per the Optional paragraph above)

Click OK. This can be a real pain in the butt after awhile. To make it a little bit easier for the sites that you visit regularly (that you trust), we can add those sites to our Trusted sites list.


Add sites that we visit often and that we trust to the Trusted sites list as follows.

Let's use the www.lavasoftusa.com Ad-aware site as an example. Using Internet Explorer, go to http://www.lavasoftusa.com. I want to trust the lavasoftusa Ad-aware site. To begin, I click Yes to the ActiveX question box. The page displays and you should highlight the portion of the address in the address bar so that the period before lavasoftusa and up to and including the com (or net or org or edu, etc.) is highlighted as shown below. Click your mouse pointer just before the period and while holding down the left mouse button, drag the mouse to highlight the text up to and including the com. Leave go of the mouse button and the text will be highlighted as shown. In general, we want to highlight the com (or net or org or edu, etc., the period before the com (or net or org or edu, etc., the word before the period and the period in front of that word as shown below.

Place your mouse pointer over the blue text and right click the highlighted text Choose copy from the menu. Now click Tools on the top toolbar and select Internet Options from the menu. Click the Security tab. Click the Trusted sites icon and then click the Sites button.

Uncheck the small box where it says Require server verification... if it is checked.

In the "Add this Web site to the zone:" box type in a * (star) and right click next to the star and select paste from the menu. A star acts as a wildcard. Normally the server's name at the site you are visiting is www, but not always. The star will allow us to trust all the servers at the site. Click the Add button and click OK. Click Ok again and you'll be back at the site. Note in the bottom right hand corner that it now displays Trusted sites.

Notes: Some sites will not actually be trusted until you close Internet Explorer and go back into the site even though it says Trusted sites on the bottom right. Some sites display content from several sites at once, so you may still be prompted to allow ActiveX. Usually the extra content is only ads so I'll click No to the ActiveX prompts. These sites may show a Mixed mode status on the bottom right. On many sites that you say no to, you will find that the page displays perfectly. You then have to wonder what the site is doing running ActiveX.

RULES: If a site is fun AND free, then it isn't free. I generally don't trust sites that are fun AND free. If you can't figure out how the free site is making money, then there's a good chance they are getting paid to put adware on your machine. Sites with numerous popups should not be trusted. If you keep getting bad programs on your machine detected by Ad-aware or Spybot, then you have to question if you're trusting or clicking Yes to sites that should not be trusted. Check your trusted sites list to see if you are being too trusting. Generally free games, free software, free game cheat codes, free music, gambling and adult material sites should not be trusted.

Whenever you get popups, you should never click anywhere inside the popup. They may try to trick you with a Yes or No question or with a No Thanks button. They may say your settings are not optimized. There are all kinds of tricks to get you to click inside of a popup. Just exit out of all popups using the X in the top right hand corner of the popup or by right clicking the popup sitting on the bottom taskbar and choosing Close from the menu. You may think that the ActiveX question boxes are popups. They are NOT popups as they are part of the security features that we have set up. You may click Yes or No inside of the ActiveX question boxes.

STEP 6 :

Go to the Advanced tab in Internet Options and UNCHECK "Install on demand (Internet Explorer)" and "Install on demand (Other)" and click OK.


Visit Microsoft's Windows Update center, click the Scan button and install all of the Critical updates. Scan for updates often, as patches for flaws in Internet Explorer are posted often.

You can avoid all of this ActiveX nonsense (steps 4 through 6) by not using Internet Explorer as your browser and using Mozilla Firefox instead. Just follow the instructions HERE to install Mozilla Firefox and use that as your browser.

RIGHT CLICK HERE and choose "Save Target As..." from the menu to save this page to your computer's hard drive for future reference.

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Last modified: June 19, 2014