ActiveX was created by Microsoft in 1996. It provides means for software components to interact via the Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) and Component Object Model (COM) features. ActiveX was developed to allow content that originates from the Internet to afford more functionality by interacting with components that reside in the host computer.
Due to its origin, it is a common feature in computers that are run by Microsoft’s operating system: Windows. ActiveX controls also depend on the compiled code provided by Intel x86 processors. Most of the programs that have been designed to run on a Windows platform make use of the extensional capabilities that are provided by ActiveX controls. They do so by using ActiveX to enhance their features and in turn offer their capabilities to other software as ActiveX controls. These controls can be observed in the manner software and foreign scripts can interact with Windows Media Player, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Internet Explorer, to name just a few.
Can ActiveX Controls Be Dangerous?
In some instances, yes. ActiveX controls can be manipulated by a software developer to accomplish malicious aims just like virus attacks do. So in other words, these controls can be used to attack a computer. This may be manifested through: tracking of your activities on the Internet and keeping a log of your personal information which will be ultimately used to target you with advertisements that clog your browsing experience (we all know how irritating browser pop-ups could get).
Sometimes, ActiveX controls may not have been developed with bad intentions beforehand, but a hacker may spot a weakness in one of those components and how they are linked, and use that control to accomplish his vindictive goals.
Knowing this, you should only install ActiveX controls from a reputable source or from an agent that has a history of guarding the content of their ActiveX controls from untrusted developers. But making such a decision or knowing who is reputable and who is not may not be that easy. So, here come some guidelines:
Was This Expected?
Be wary if a frequently visited website suddenly offers to provide an ActiveX control for installation. If the website has never done this before, investigate what it aims to achieve in your system all of a sudden and what it will eventually do when it has been installed. Take these steps before accenting.
Is This a Trustworthy Website?
Do not accept the offer to install an ActiveX control if you have not learnt to trust the reputation of the website in question. You must be sure of the credentials of the agent that verifies the authenticity of the control. Any browser will inform you of the agent’s details.
What Does ActiveX Controls Want To Do To My Computer?
Simply put, a website that practices good relations should inform you explicitly beforehand what the purpose of the ActiveX control is. The website should explain the functionalities that will be affected and offered if you install the control. The aims of the ActiveX control should be explained exhaustively so that you can decide on whether you can afford to have the ActiveX running in your system. In contrast, if you see a site is trying to run an active script on your machine without giving much of an information, you know immediately that there is something wrong in it.
How to Skip Installation of an ActiveX Control?
The simplest way you can forego installing an ActiveX control is to select the “Don’t run” option that should pop up during installation dialog. This dialog will prevent the installation and gives you the opportunity to find out more information about the control’s publisher.
I have already installed an ActiveX Control, how will I delete it?
Delete the control according to the version of software installed as described below:
- Go to the Install/Uninstall section from Start > Settings > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs.
- Choose the control you want to remove and click Add/Remove, and you will be instructed on how to continue.
- If you do not find the control in the installed programs list, explore its installation location by searching for a sub-directory “occache” and the corresponding file name for the active x control. An example file location could be:
(whereby, you should replace ‘thenameofthecontrol’ with the actual control’s name.) From the field Start > Run.
4. Windows will then open the Windows\Occache location using the appropriate file explorer (either Windows Explorer or Windows NT Explorer). Remove the control via its context menu by right-clicking then choosing Remove.
If you get an error dialog that is related with your active x component installed in your PC, you can fix the situation by following the steps below:
- Shut down all instances of Internet Explorer that are running in your PC.
- Stop your desktop from running as an Active Desktop. To do this, disable the View As Web Page option by choosing your desktop’s context menu by right-clicking any unoccupied region of your desktop then Active Desktop > View As Web Page to deactivate the option.
- Follow the removal procedure of the ActiveX control as discussed in the preceding section.
- Restart your computer to finish the removal process.