The intelligent way to bypass junkware with AntiAdware

Junk is everywhere.

  • My son’s diaper bin is a putrescent mass of funk.
  • My inbox is inundated with stupid offers to enlarge my penis and vexing invitations to date desperate dames in Russia.
  • The streets of New York City are replete with used Metrocards, cigarette butts and crumpled newspapers.

Junk is everywhere.

But one place I refuse to tolerate junk is my computer.  I won’t stand for it and neither should you.  A few days ago I showed you how to hack your way through the junkware jungle and today I’m going to arm you with even more tools to vanquish those unwanted offers.

Come with me… we’re going on a mission.

Sourceforge and Download.com were once reliable sources of adware-free software.

Believe it or not, there was a day you could download free software without worrying about catching a digital disease.

But as the avarice of software hubs became ascendant, virulent software became more common and people became leery of downloading anything online.

The Sourceforge Download Manager

The problem is that unscrupulous advertisers pay software repositories, such as Sourceforge, money to trick users into opting into unwanted offers.  The audacity and guile of organizations like this is growing because there’s big business in selling ad impressions and stealing your private data.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Today – you and I are the Empire and we’re about to Strike back.

Tricking Sourceforge to forget software wrappers

The first thing we need to do is banish those software wrappers.

By “wrappers” I’m referring to the bloated download managers that are often teeming with adware.

The next time you download an open source project from Sourceforge.net, try appending the URL with the following HTTP GET parameter:

?nowrap

For example, FileZilla server usually ships with a wonky wrapper.  By adding the ?nowrap suffix to the URL it downloads without the wrapper.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/filezilla/files/FileZilla%20Server/0.9.44/FileZilla_Server-0_9_44.exe/download?nowrap

In other words, it downloads the application – sans the crap.

Downloading stuff from SourceForge with nowrap parameter

The second approach is to use a browser extension that constantly protects you.

Introducing AntiAdware Atomizer

AntiAdware Atomizer by devnoname120 is perhaps the greatest nemesis to the evil ad networks.  It’s a tidy little browser extension that removes forced download managers, accelerators and adware on a growing list of over 40 major download hubs.

So here’s the thing: if you’re using an older version of Chrome, you need to download the Tampermonkey extension from the Chrome Web Store; however, if Chrome is current, scroll down this page so I can show you how to manually install the script.


 

Okay, back to what I was saying… Tampermonkey is a productivity tool that developers use to manage the eccentric collections of scripts they have stored on their computers.

To install the script, click the blue +Free button in the upper right corner of the browser viewport.

Download Tampermonkey from the Chrome Web Store

After you install Tampermonkey, visit greasyfork.org and download the AntiAdware javascript file.

Antiadware Javascript File

Tampermonkey leaps to action admonishing you to only download scripts from sources you trust.

And that’s a good exhortation!  Malicious scripts can choke your browser and flub up your computer so this warning is justified and super important.

Process script with Chrome

If you scroll down you can actually see the script’s source code.

The script we’re downloading today is hosted from a credible source.  Greasyfork is an open source script store that maintains a list of unruly scripts. Moderators periodically roam the hallways (almost daily) looking for and deleting any bad scripts posted to the site.

That being said, after clicking Process with Chrome you’ll get another warning.  Heed and continue.

Extensions, apps and themes can harm your computer

But if you try to add the Script, it might fail with the following error:

Apps, extensions, and user scripts cannot be added from this website.

If you have the latest version of Chrome, it won’t let you add scripts to the browser that didn’t originate in the Chrome Web Store.

This is a good idea so I applaud Google for its increased security awareness.

Apps, extensions and user scripts cannot be added from this website

So here’s what we need to do:

Manually Installing The Script

Right click the green Install this Script button and choose Save Link As from the context menu.

Then go to the Chrome extensions panel by typing this in the omnibar:

chrome://extensions/

Now drag the javascript file you downloaded earlier and drop it directly in the extensions window.

Manually installing a Javascript extension in Google Chrome

Chrome faithfully alerts you about permissions…

Chrome faithfully warning you about permissions

And that’s it.  After adding the script, when you visit any sites supported by AntiAdware Atomizer, your browser will silently filter out the adware.

Incidentally, if you get tired of AntiAdware (or it just freaks you out) you can always remove this extension by clicking the trashcan icon in your Chrome extensions page.

Removing Chrome extensions

That’s all for now.  You can also download the extension for Firefox, Opera or Safari.  Sorry IE users.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately the best defense against being assailed with junkware is common sense.  But unfortunately common sense isn’t so common.

We need to be mindful of the stuff we click.

Of the places we visit.

Of the sources we trust.

Little tricks like the ?nowrap tip or using specialized scripts like AntiAdware can help but the onus really falls on us to make smart decisions on the content we consume.

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Posted in Windows, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Vista, Windows XP Tagged with: , ,
  • Steve

    How about us Firefox users?

    • Ah Steve, I kind of ignored you guys didn’t I? I haven’t written (or investigated) antiadware solutions for Firefox. The only thing I’ve heard of is the BetterPrivacy extension but I don’t know much about it.

      How about you find an equivalent extension for Firefox and tell me why it’s good?

  • Steve

    Vonnie, tampermonkey sounds suspiciously like Greasemonkey for Firefox. If so, it might be possible to load the same script into Firefox.

    For now my defenses are:

    Ad Muncher: removes advertisements from all web software on your computer.

    Unclicky: removes checkmarks from bundleware on many download packages.

    Then I always use a safety net, Toolwiz Time Machine. Install your software, tiptoeing through the minefield of crapware. When the install is done check out your computer carefully to identify unwanted hitchhikers that somehow avoided notice. If they can be uninstalled do so and check again. When you’re satisfied write the changes. If something went wrong that you can’t fix, just go back in time to before the install.

    So no, nothing exactly like AnitiAdware.

    Malwarebytes, ADWCleaner, CCleaner and WinPatrol are my sentries. My safety net is Toolwiz Time Machine and Acronis True Image. Disk Images are kept on external drives not normally connected. When not backing up or restoring they are turned off and disconnected.

  • Steve

    Yes, AntiAdware works just peachy on Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari and Android! With Firefox just use Greasemonkey, which is the Firefox equivalent to Tampermonkey. Works great and I’ve added it to my arsenal.