Pop-ups, spyware, and adware are the banes of Internet browsers. Why can’t surfing the Web be more like watching TV? At least you know when someone’s trying to sell you something then; there’s a clear line between program and advertisement. Also, TV commercials don’t just appear out of thin air and hijack the upper half of your TV screen. And they don’t install renegade programs on your set without permission. Why should the Internet be any different? TechRepublic member Grey_Woolf would definitely like to know.

This member recently turned to the Technical Q&A seeking advice on how to uninstall a mysterious program named NE. The app started loading itself automatically whenever Internet Explorer 5.5 was started. In Grey_Woolf’s words, “This app causes pop-ups… Also, I have noticed the unit gradually slows down.”

In an attempt to fix the problem, Grey searched the registry and System.ini for any occurrences of NE. His hunt turned up absolutely nothing. What did TechRepublic members have to say about the nefarious NE?

“Pop-ups, spam, and spyware—and all the other nasty names they all go by—that we do not want on our computers are not always as easy to find just by searching our registries. They are in the registry most likely, but usually under a different name, or non-obvious name,” said Paul, (a.k.a. XpertDragon). He asked, “Have you already downloaded Ad-aware? It is shaping up to be like the program of the year I think, and it is free… it works well, and will remove most, if not all, unwanted junk off of your PC.” He also suggests investing in a good pop-up stopper like AdSubtract Pro.

Ashnaidu offered this advice: “[To prevent pop-ups] You can disable active scripting in Internet Explorer. You might not want to use this method, because it prevents other scripts from running which might cause many Web sites to be displayed incorrectly.”

Disable active scripting by changing the Security settings under Internet Options in the IE Tools menu. Paul saw this solution as a bit too drastic, not wishing to “cut my nose off to spite my face.”

BeerMonster pointed Paul in the direction of the PestPatrol Web site where a full explanation of the application NE is given. The program Network Essentials appears to be a pop-up loader that gathers information on browsing habits. This gathered data is then used to generate pop-up advertisements based on targeted keywords. The adware installs three files on your machine: NE.EXE, NE.DAT, and NE.DLL. Distributed by SmartPops, the application is installed by the Trojan DownloadWare and can be removed by using Add/Remove Programs. PestPatrol suggests first removing DownloadWare from the machine before Network Essentials in order to prevent an unauthorized reinstallation. Further instructions on removing the files from the system registry are also given.

Hitting the mark perfectly, BeerMonster received many kudos from Paul, whose future Web browsing will hopefully be pop-up free. With many thanks, Paul proclaimed, “Excellent! [BeerMonster] You are the man!”