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Browser Helper Objects


Everything you wanted to know about Browser Helper Objects

A Browser Helper Object is an in-built code module that is designed to get automatically loaded into Explorer and Internet Explorer components of the operating system, Windows. Also known as "BHO", this small code module was intentionally designed and incorporated into the Windows, to help coders and developers to extend their functionalities of the browsers.

Browser helper objects (BHO) are also used to assist website designers to further customize and control the parameters of Internet Explorer browser. When you start Windows, this small program may share Internet Explorer's memory set and perform actions on all available windows and modules. A Browser Helper Object is also designed to detect and pinpoint many events and occurrences that might occur during the loading session or display extra details and information on those pages that were just visited, or even closely monitor all messages and instructions that might be sent out by the operating system.

BHO's, also known as "Component Object Model" components, are made to communicate with Internet Explorer to make your browsing experience pleasing and hassle-free. The browser helper object is a tiny software plug that is designed for browsers such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Firefox. Microsoft Inc. has provided this useful code to all those developers, who may wish to extend capabilities to the existing browser without compromising on the secrecy of the original code.

Browser Helper Objects are stored in any sector on your hard drive. All legal applications are usually stored along with the main legal application to make them easily identifiable by the user. By default, all browser helpers have an extension that end with .DLL, but a software designer may attach any extension to these objects.

However, not all BHO's are harmless as they are made out to be! During code writing process, these tiny objects are designed for only good things and deeds. But, their useful nature can be exploited by many scrupulous operators to install numerous features and functions that are malicious and destructive in nature. While BHO's installed by well-known toolbars like Yahoo and Google are well intended, many others are not so good, and they are designed to hijack your browser, watch your online activities and keep a tab on your actions.

Dangerous BHO's are automatically added to your computer system, when you install another, third party software utility or program. Numerous BHO's are in reality damaging "ad-ware" or "spy ware" programs and these are known to monitor your on-line activities and log them for reporting back to the people who created them. These malicious programs could cause considerable damage to your computer and also create a scenario, whereby the entire data stored in your hard drive becomes a victim of many unscrupulous people.

Is it possible to identify malicious BHO's?

With operating systems below Windows XP (SP2), it is rather very difficult to pinpoint and detect the exact location of malicious BHO's. If you are running a Windows XP, SP2 on your computer, you can check for any malicious activity, by opening Tools tab in the IE window and then checking out Manage Add-on section.

Some tell-tale signs of bad BHO's:

  • Slow and sluggish PC:  One of the most damaging activities that are performed by a bad BHO is its capability to slow down your PC by consuming the bandwidth. It is often very difficult to detect a bad BHO, as it is designed to work in the background.
  • Unintended additions of new desktop shortcuts and homepages:  Bad BHO's can change your default settings to something which is totally unexpected. They may also redirect your default browser to another site.
  • Annoying pop-up windows that keep coming like a waterfall:  As you turn on your browser, you may be disgusted to see a number of pop-up windows that keep coming at you in a constant stream. These pop-ads may even track your surfing habits and send out information to people behind the screens.

Is it possible to protect your computer from malicious BHO's?

Yes, it is possible to prevent bad BHO's attacking your computer, if you know how to take care of your computer! Here are some ideas and suggestions that tell you how to escape malicious BHO's:

  • If you're using Internet Explorer, you can think of changing over to other browsers like Firefox, Mozilla and Opera,
  • Run an effective anti-spy and anti-ad ware program to remove the traces of all potentially dangerous BHO's,
  • If you're running a SP2 Windows XP operating system, you can detect BHO's by clicking on Internet Explorer Tools and Manage Add-on section to check all suspicious installations.

Some of the well-known BHO's that are circulating over the internet are:

  • FriendGreeting
  • NetPal
  • VX2
  • SearchFast
  • FlowGoBar
  • Alexa
  • AdBreak

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