WinPatrol: IE Helpers

IE Helpers include both Browser Helper Objects and Toolbar Add-Ons.

Browser Helper Objects (BHOs)
A Browser Helper Object or BHO is a helper program that is associated with the Internet Explorer browser. Every time you open Internet Explorer all BHOs installed on your PC will be loaded and run along with the browser. Even if you don't use Internet Explorer, BHOs may be loaded each time you open a new folder in Windows Explorer.

Browser Helper Objects can be very useful, but they are often installed by other, potentially malicious programs you download, such as spyware, adware, or worse. Some BHOs used for marketing purposes may come along with reputable programs. Others are often installed by file sharing programs. In many cases BHOs cannot be removed using the Add/Remove Programs applet found in the Control Panel.

Not all BHOs are malicious, though. Some examples of helpful BHOs are the Google Toolbar or the Adobe Acrobat Helper BHO, which allows your browser to open PDF documents online. Other programs like WS-FTP from IPSwitch install BHOs to integrate their special features directly into Internet Explorer.

The list of bad BHOs is huge and growing every day. BHOs that are installed by spyware or adware may log your online habits and send reports of your online activities sent back to their creator. Others BHOs can bypass pop-up stopping programs, causing unexpected pop-up ads to appear on sites where you would not have expected them. One notorious BHO called LOP will continually hijack your Internet Explorer home page and direct you to sites you would never want to visit.

Toolbar Add-Ons
Toolbar Add-Ons are similar to BHOs, however, they add new toolbars to Internet Explorer, whereas BHOs are often not visible at all. These Toolbar Add-Ons may or may not be active when you launch your browser. To see a complete list of available Toolbar objects, right-click on the main Internet Explorer toolbar and select Customize. Most Toolbar Add-Ons will not be activated unless you click on the button that is displayed.

As with BHOs, the number of annoying, even malicious Toolbar Add-Ons is growing daily. Toolbar Add-Ons are frequently installed by spyware and adware to induce you to use sites and services that you may not be interested in.

Controlling IE Helpers

Scotty will watch for new IE Helpers and alert you whenever a new BHO or Toolbar Add-On is installed. WinPatrol provides several buttons to allow you to get more information on currently installed IE Helpers and remove suspicious BHOs and Toolbar Add-Ons. 

This button allows you to configure how frequently Scotty checks the IE Helper list for changes. You can set this frequency in minutes, and even set it to 0 minutes to disable checking of IE Helper list entirely.

WinPatrol provides additional information on IE-Helpers, including the company that created the IE Helper as well as the version. Most IE Helper files will usually include copyright and company information that can be displayed by WinPatrol, but not always. When it does exist, this information will help you decide if the IE Helper is a valid or not and whether you want to Remove it (see below).

As it is often difficult to tell just from a file name or company name whether an IE Helper is legitimate, you can click the Free Info... button to review a list of common, well-known malicious programs on the WinPatrol web site. PLUS members can click the PLUS Info... button to search the online WinPatrol database for more information on the specific IE Helper itself.

To close or Exit the WinPatrol tab interface click the X in the upper right hand corner or the Close button. WinPatrol will continue monitor changes but the main interface will be removed from memory.

This button will not delete any program files from your hard drive but it will remove the appropriate entry in the Windows Registry so that the BHO or Toolbar Add-On you have selected will no longer be loaded when you start your Internet Explorer browser.

"Delete File on Reboot"
If after trying to remove a dangerous IE Helper you find that it still will not go away, right-click on the name of the IE Helper and select "Delete File on Reboot." This action will not take place until the next time you boot, but the IE Helper file will be deleted before Windows starts and any other programs that may attempt to prevent its deletion. 

There is no way to recover the file once it is deleted, so use this feature only when you are absolutely sure you want to remove the IE Helper file.

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