By Bob Rankin
A reader asks: ‘My browser is filling up with unwanted toolbars, and I can no longer search with Google. I have anti-virus protection, but these things still creep in somehow, and I don’t recall ever asking for them. Where do they come from, and how can I avoid this problem?’
What is Foistware?
Foistware is a term used for software that’s “foisted” on you, typically without your knowledge or explicit consent. Foistware isn’t technically malware, but it can range from marginally useful, to annoying, to malicious. Most often, foistware takes the form of browser toolbars, but it can also take over your browser homepage and preferred search engines. Some foistware pops up when you visit online shopping sites, and tries to steer you to certain vendors or offers.
Foistware almost always tags along when you download a program that you do want. Through various deceptive practices, the download process may try to add extra, unwanted software to your installation package. Usually it takes the form of a checkbox that’s already selected, and if you just click NEXT or CONTINUE without reading carefully, you’ll end up with this extra software clutter.
Sometimes confusing buttons, self-serving “recommendations” or items buried in the terms of service play a role. In other cases, a tag-along foistware product will be installed with NO prompt or warning. But thankfully, those are rare.
Excerpt shared with permission from Bob Rankin.
About Bob Rankin
Bob Rankin is a translator for the technology impaired -- a writer and computer programmer who enjoys exploring the Internet and explaining technology in plain English. His work has appeared in Computer World, NY Newsday, and other publications. Bob is also publisher of Internet TOURBUS, author of several computer books, and creator of the Lowfat Linux tutorial.