There are two kinds of computer users. Some install software without reading the installation routine screens and wonder why their PCs are always full of junk programs that kill performance and usability. The others always remember to uncheck unwanted installations when they install useful software. Their PCs work well, but they get tired of having to stay vigilant while installing new software and updates. And even careful users sometimes click impatiently.

Junk programs are usually delivered together with freeware. When a user installs one tool, it may be bundled with a bunch of other programs — browser toolbars, extensions, and other things that change a browser’s welcome page and persistently ask permission to install unfamiliar utilities like Computer Turbo Booster Super Plus.

Those bundled toolbars track users’ actions on the Internet. The browser’s new home page shows ads. The Turbo Booster doesn’t seem to speed anything up, but it claims it will — just buy the premium version. This stuff you didn’t ask for is not as bad as ransomware, but it is really unpleasant and also drains system resources, slowing everything down.

The crazy thing is, in most cases, they are installed with the user’s permission. If you don’t want the junk programs on your device, you need to uncheck a few boxes in the installation wizard’s many screens.

To make things worse, crapware is often tricky or difficult to remove. And it can also be really nasty. But Kaspersky Lab has developed a new technology that will help our users forget all about crapware, bloatware, adware, and the like.

Dump the junk

To help users avoid installing software that makes unwanted changes to their systems, our System Changes Control tab includes a useful checkbox marked Use Installation Assistant. If you check that box, our solutions will inspect each setup wizard as it runs. Having detected an obscure checkbox, our antivirus will notify the user that an additional program is attempting to install itself and ask if they really want it. If they don’t, the antivirus will uncheck this mark.

In the System Changes Control tab, you can turn on another useful feature: Block Advertisements. During certain steps, installation wizards show ads — and nothing more. If you turn on the Block Advertisements feature, our antivirus will block these windows in the installation wizard.

These features are already implemented in the latest versions of Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security. Recently, however, we obtained a new patent and advanced this technology to a new level.

How it works

When you install a program, Kaspersky Lab solutions check to see what kind of software it is — a known or an unidentified program. If the antivirus detects unidentified software, it can pause the installation and transfer it to a protected environment in which the program cannot change anything in your system.

For the program in question, the protected environment looks just like a real system, so it behaves as usual — it installs additional tools and changes system settings (which do not, of course, actually affect your real system). We use a list of unwanted actions, each carrying penalty points. For example, if a program tries to change your browser’s start page, it gets 20 points, but if it does so without notifying the user, that’s 100 points. Covertly adding anything to the startup list also adds 100 penalty points.

The list of bad actions also includes installation of different toolbars and plugins, creation of numerous pop-ups, unauthorized access to user data, network settings changes, and other things in the same vein.

If a program scores a certain number of penalty points, it is marked as undesirable. In that case, the antivirus notifies the user that the program is intrusive — and why. The user can then decide whether to continue with the installation, as well as if the antivirus program should remember this setting for future installations.

All in all, our technology helps you install the programs you want and decouple any installation of tagalong junkware and unwanted system changes. You’ll see notification from these two tools and decide if you really want the programs.

The same technology lets you find unwanted programs that are already installed and either remove them or block some of their unpleasant behavior, such as showing pop ups.