How did that 'Gator' get on my desktop?

Question

All of a sudden an Icon called GATOR showed up on my desktop. I don't know where it came from. They want me to provide all my personal data like pin numbers, passwords, account numbers etc. so that I will not have to enter them when required.

I hesitate giving anyone that kind of information. Have you heard of this service?

-Edward

Answer

This question was answered on August 20, 2001. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

In today's download intensive Internet world, more and more of you are installing programs in your systems that you didn't know you were installing Virtually every program or accessory you buy for your computer or download from the Internet prompts you to try another 'free' service that you 'just can't live without'!

At some point you installed 'Gator', a program that is designed to fill in Internet forms, remember passwords and generally track your Internet usage so that it can send you targeted advertising.

There are a couple lessons to be learned from Edward's situation:

Lesson #1: Start reading the EULA (End User License Agreement) and/or Privacy Policy of anything that you plan to install in your computer The EULA is the long, boring text that most of us ignore during the installation of a program Instead we simply click on the '?I Accept' button so we can just get on with it This step is a legal and binding electronic method of

signing an agreement so don't take it lightly.

Lesson #2: Pay attention to all of the installation screens, especially at the end Most of these 'piggy-back' programs are installed at the end of the primary programs installation and they generally do ask you if you want them installed.

Lesson #3: Only install what you truly will use The more programs you allow to be installed in your system, the more likely you will have a software problem or performance issue Every program that is installed in your system can conflict with any other program that is already installed This means that every new installation can exponentially increase your chances of problems and because the 'Registry' begins to become bloated with entries from every program, it can dramatically increase the amount of time that your computer takes to start up.

If you read the EULA and Privacy Policy that is posted at the Gator.com website, it says that in exchange for your use of their 'free' program, you are authorizing them to track your Internet use and store specific information in their databases (such as your e-mail address, first name,

country and ZIP code) which is used to sell ?targeted? advertising Personal information such as your passwords, pin numbers, account numbers is said to be stored on your computer and not their servers.

Sounds like a lot to give up just so you don't have to remember your passwords or fill out forms the old fashioned way.

Since the 'AutoComplete' feature (the ability to insert information in form fields that you have previously entered) is built in Microsoft's Internet Explorer, chances are you already have the ability to perform most of these tasks without having to use the Gator program To access the AutoComplete settings in IE, click on Tools/Internet Options then on the Content tab at

the top.

If you want to get rid of 'the Gator', click on Start/Settings/Control Panel and double-click on the Add/Remove icon When the list of installed programs appears, look for the 'Gator' entry, highlight it and click on the Add/Remove button.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on August 20, 2001