Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Under The IE Hood: BHOs

If you are a heavy user of Internet Explorer and have started to become aware of Microsoft Internet Explorer serious risks and vulnerabilities but are still in doubt on switching to a new more secure browser, here is a free little tool that can help you see lots more of what is running under your IE hood. BHO, available since 2001, it's a very small free utility that you can run immediately and that will list (and allow you to enable/disable) Browser Helper Objects (BHOs)that have been installed in your IE browser. More specifically: A Browser Helper Object, or BHO, is just a small program that runs automatically every time you start your Internet browser. Usually, a BHO is installed on your system by another software program. For example, Go!Zilla, the downloading utility, installs a BHO created by Radiate (formerly Aureate Media); this BHO tracks which advertisements you see as you surf the Web. The natural question is, what do BHOs do? The technical answer is "anything", but generally, it will have something to do with helping you browse the Internet. Of course, some BHOs are what is called "ad-ware" or "spyware": they do things like monitor the websites you visit and report this data back to their creators, or display advertisements. Although many people are extremely concerned about them because of the privacy issue, BHOs are not necessarily bad things, and most of them are well-intentioned and beneficial. For example, the P3P ("Platform for Privacy Preferences") program spearheaded by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and major vendors, including Microsoft, AT&T, and IBM, will be delivered as a BHO. Some BHOs, however, are placed secretly on your system, and there is certainly no technical reason why they could not be programmed to send information about your system (or your web surfing habits) over the Internet without your knowledge. Also, there is no restriction on what a BHO can do your system; it can do anything any other program can do: read or write (or delete) anything on your system." I have run BHO on my system, where IE is already inflicted itself a self-destructive blow that doesn't make it work at all, and found 12 BHOs. Ten, were stuff that I needed to disable immediately. Please note, that though IE refuses to run on my PC, these BHOs were started and launched anytime I clicked on links that automatically triggered a call to IE (another serious issue when IE is NOT my default browser).



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posted by Robin Good on Tuesday, June 29 2004, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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