Don’t Download the Alexa Toolbar

by Ginger Marin

I used Alexa, the website traffic ranking tool, on my computer for the past couple of years until a few weeks ago when I made a rather frightening discovery. I own an Apple computer and was using Firefox as my browser. As I launched Firefox, a window from Alexa overtook my home page preference and said something about an update. It happened very fast. I thought it was okay to update the program until I actually got to the Alexa page it was directing me to and read the disclaimer/privacy policy. Alexa is one badass spyware.

The policy states that in addition to tracking the websites I visit, it will register every keystroke I make on a contact form. Well, you know what that means, right? It means if you do any kind of shopping or banking over the Internet, Alexa will register your username, your password, your credit card number, expiration date and so forth. They will know where you live and where you have products shipped. They will know your mother’s maiden name and your social security number and whatever else you unwittingly provide via the web. I quickly canceled the update.

I thought I was now safe. But after that initial update advisory hit my computer, I began to have trouble with my browser. It constantly froze no matter which page I was trying to access. I didn’t realize though that it was Alexa causing the problem until days went by and I was the only one in my location having trouble with my computer.

It dawned on me to uninstall the program which I tried to do by visiting Alexa and doing a search for instructions. Interestingly, there was no advice on how to remove it from a Firefox browser so I had to search the Internet and then found that other people also had trouble with the Alexa tool crashing or stalling their Firefox. I came across advice at Mozilla and was able to uninstall Alexa. My browser is now working fine. I am appalled that I got sucked into the biggest junk on the Internet – Spyware!

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

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