IE plugins: BHOs and toolbars

IE plugins: BHOs and toolbars

The online advertisement industry has never been so prosperous and some people think it will continue to thrive the fi ve next year. One of the problem advertisers face is: how can they increase the ROI by targeting more users? They developed toolbars and other types of Internet Explorer plugins which enable them to spy and sometimes to control the navigation of users.
Gilbert Nzeka
Source: Hakin9 2/2006

What you will learn…

  • the guiding principles of IE plugins,
  • how to create your own plugins (as well the BHOs as the toolbars),
  • how to analyze your systems in order to know if you are victim of an undesirable IE plugin,
  • some importants points about browser’s history to understand why plugins exist.

What you should know…

  • how to program softwares and DLLs,
  • the guiding principles of the COM objects (Components Object Model).

Internet Explorer, commonly called IE or MSIE (for Microsoft IE) is the famous browser which competed with Netscape Communicator during a long time, another browser created by the Netscape Communications Corporation company currently a subsidiary company of the Time Warner group. It is known that IE won the battle and became the most used browser until an unknown browser called Mozilla Firefox, a small browser from the Mozilla foundation reached 100 million of download in less than one year. Although having been often analyzed. Internet Explorer remains still a mystery for many people. Did you know, for example, that it is possible to create plugins for IE as easily as to create plugins for Firefox? In this article, we will show you how famous companies such as Adobe, Microsoft, Google, eBay but also 180solutions and other spywares/adwares creators built tools which will be attached to Internet Explorer and allow their creators to have access to your computers by offering you many (often useful) services while enabling them to increase their incomes (by advertisement or not). Internet Explorer 1.0 was created from the codes of Spyglass Mosaic. At that time, Spyglass Mosaic was one of the powerful commervial browsers. The Spyglass company which published this browser had signed a rather special contract with Microsoft: Microsoft could integrate this browser in its operating system but had to pay them (some people told about a quarter of the incomes of Microsoft Windows) at the Spyglass company. Microsoft bought the company and decided to develop their own browser based on the Spyglass Mosaic codes. People had to wait the third version of IE, which was developed without using Spyglass codes and was available by default in Windows 95, to start using it: IE became quickly the most used browser. Some people saw this integration in Windows 95 like an important fact proving the Microsoft monopoly which wanted to exploit the success of Windows by adding its own programs (browsers, multimedia player…). Of course, Microsoft was very criticized but who could forbid it from doing what it wanted with Windows? Not the Netscape browser creators who were not able to face this direct attack.

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