Eliminate those pesky Net alerts


October 09, 2003|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I want to ask about a message that's on my desktop constantly. It is from Microsoft and states that someone is trying to access my e-mail; if I don't want it, check No, etc. I checked No a long time ago, and this message alert will not go away! It has been on at least three months.

Your bedevilment stems from a category of heavy-handed Internet carnival barking known as messenger ads.

These are extremely nasty pitches that pop up from the Windows XP system tray in the lower-right corner of the monitor and try to look as though they are part of the operating system's dialog boxes. Yours purports to be a warning about somebody trying to swipe your e-mail. Others do things such as saying your computer's IP address has been detected and is giving out information that can be stopped by buying something. Others offer to bring you weather data, sports scores, etc.

The idea is to fool folks into clicking for all sorts of nasty stuff, such as installing browser tracking spyware, keystroke loggers and such.

One way to disable this nasty attack works for people with most Internet service providers except America Online. AOL incorporates pop-up stoppers and message attack shields on its own.

Others should activate the Internet Connection Firewall built in to XP. Click on Start and My Network Places and give a right-click to the icon for your Internet connection. Pick Properties in the pop-up box then open the Advanced tab on the next display. Check the box to activate the firewall, and those messenger boxes will be stopped at the gate. If your computer has the XP Network Bridge activated, click on it instead of the icon for your connection to find the Advanced tab.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. Reach Jim Coates at jcoates@tribune.com.

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