Alexa 'Spyware' and Internet Explorer 6

If you run AdAware or some other software to detect and delete spyware from your computer then you will probably find that it detects a registry entry for Alexa after you install Internet Explorer 6 (or any of the IE6 service packs or patches). Your spyware software may offer to delete this entry for you.

The reason why this entry in the registry is detected as spyware is that Alexa software has a reputation (according to some internet sites that I have seen) for being one of the worst spyware offenders on the internet. I can't comment on how accurate this is as the only time I have come across any Alexa references on my system is the one put there by the IE6 install which is not really an Alexa entry in the first place. Although the registry entry for this is detected as spyware (by some spyware removal programs) I have seen nothing to indicate that this particular reference is spyware and many indications that in this particular instance the so called spyware is nothing of the kind. You may still decide that you do not want this entry in your registry and allowing your spyware software to delete the entry will not do any harm other than removing the Show Related Links entry from your tools menu.

The reason why the installation of IE6 (or any upgrades to IE6) inserts this reference to Alexa is that IE6 has a Show Related Links option in the Tools menu. This option brings up the search option to allow you to search for sites related to the current page. By default the related links search function is attached to MSN search which uses Alexa to provide the search results.

You can delete the entry manually by going into the registry using regedit and looking for the key

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
software
microsoft
internet explorer
extensions
{c95fe080-8f5d-11d2-a20b-00aa003c157a}

Just delete this last entry (and everything in it) and the Show Related Links option will be removed.

If you prefer not to remove the option but would rather change the option to use the Google Search engine instead of MSN/Alexa then the simplest solution is to download this zip archive containing two files.

To change the search engine you need to unzip the related.htm file into C:\windows\web or C:\winnt\web (whichever is a sub-folder of your operating system folder). You will need to overwrite the existing file if you have already used the Show Related Links option (you may need to remove the read only flag in properties to do this). You should also keep a copy of the downloaded zip file as you will need to reapply this change after applying any IE fixpacks or patches.

The second file in this zip archive can be used to put the Show Related Links option back into the Tools menu if you deleted the registry entry mentioned above and have now decided that you would rather have it there. Simply execute related.reg and the appropriate entries will be reinserted into the registry.

 

This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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