Latest Updates

Microsoft sneaks Firefox extension into Windows update

Posted at 10 June 2010 22:27 CET by wconeybeer

This week’s installment of the regular Windows Update pack seems to have included more than Microsoft has disclosed to consumers. On Tuesday, Firefox users began reporting on the mozillaZine forums that a “Search Helper Extension” had been mysteriously added to their browser upon restarting the application after the Windows Update installation.

The extension is reported to have come from a Windows Update for Microsoft Search Enhancement Pack and was offered to computers with the Windows Live Toolbar, MSN Toolbar, or Bing Bar installed. The update was automatically flagged for installation during the update process as it was labeled Important rather than Optional.

The issue lies in the fact that there is no information currently documented by Microsoft as to what the extension actually does. The knowledgebase article associate with the update, KB982217, only states that the toolbars involved don’t categorize home pages correctly and, therefore, are not properly reporting information to Microsoft, but it says nothing regarding a Firefox extension.

The update also installs an add-on to Internet Explorer, but users haven’t reported the issue nearly as much since IE doesn’t notify of the installation on startup.

Mozilla has reportedly been in contact with Microsoft regarding possibly security risks associated with the update.  A Mozilla spokesperson stated, “As far as we know at this time, there are no security implications to this add-on’s background installation.”

This is the second time that Microsoft has had an issue with mysterious automatic update installations. Just over a year ago the company came under fire for the Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant 1.0 which included a Firefox extension allowing websites to install software on users computers without their consent. Consumers were even angrier after finding out that removal of the update would require risky changes to the Windows Registry.

Luckily, this latest extension can be removed simply by deleting the SEPsearchhelperie.dll folder from the C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Search Enhancement Pack\Search Helper\ directory. This will remove both the Firefox extension and the IE add-on.

It’s difficult to say whether Microsoft was trying to sneak the update past users or if there was an internal miscommunication that caused the error. Mistakes, if this is one, are easily made, however consumers who are wisely concerned about internet security aren’t likely to forgive or forget easily.

Click for more news

industrysoftwaregeneral computer hardware

Click to share

There are 4 comments

Mr. Belvedere
MyCE Resident
Posted on: 10 Jun 10 22:45
    Very strange indeed.
    MyCE Resident
    Posted on: 10 Jun 10 23:24
      It is very unscrupulous of Microsoft to sneak a Firefox extension into an "Important" Windows update. Shame on them!

      I'm glad that it's easy to uninstall, but that doesn't forgive their behavior.
      MyCE Resident
      Posted on: 11 Jun 10 01:34
        As if we needed another reason to avoid the insipid toolbars.
        Blown to smitherines
        Posted on: 11 Jun 10 13:32
          Originally Posted by CDan
          As if we needed another reason to avoid the insipid toolbars.
          Who installs toolbars?

          Post your comment

          You need to register before you can comment

          Like us

          Most popular headlines

          Nexus Player to be codenamed Fugu and powered by Intel Atom SoC (updated)

          Traces in the Android source code give us hints that the next Nexus device will ...

          Free software decrypts and converts Blu-ray disc to 2% of its size with nearly same quality

          The Spanish company CineMartin claims to have developed software that makes it p...

          Virus scanner Avast 2015 checks router and network security

          Anti-virus company Avast released the 2015 version of their virus scanner w...

          Windows 7 no longer sold to consumers - all about Windows 8.1 now

          Microsoft will no longer sell computers with Windows 7 installed starting t...

          First tests of Cinemartin MyBD show it does what it promises

          Our firsts with the free version of Cinemartin MyBD indicate that the software d...

          See all headlines

          Community Activities