Having had to go through the process an insane amount of times, wondering if anyone here has some good suggestions on preventative measures.
It's the same tired old story. You get a computer in for maintenance/repair. At some point you need to open the browser to look something up (maybe a part code, maybe a driver download, whatever) and your confronted with an atrocious sight. The browser takes a minute to load and upon loading more than half the screen is covered in toolbars, many of which with sketchy names. So you call up the client and ask which of the toolbars they use and either hear none of them, or something simple like "yahoo". If that's not bad enough you go to do a search and find the search engine has been replaced by one that injects links/images into pages your familiar enough with to know something is wrong.
Education doesn't seem to be working for over half of my clients, they're attentive enough once they've had the problems I mentioned, but it fades pretty fast later on when they are strapped for time or tired from work and just want to play a game they paid $5 for or some similarly cheap thing they find entertaining but comes bundled with a lot of extra crap.
So I'm wondering if there any idiot proof solutions out there to lock down search engine settings in IE, Firefox, and Chrome. To lock down toolbar installs so that it's not so easy to blindly install the toolbars. Locking the customers out entirely from changing such things is certainly out of the question, but making the process hard enough that it's impossible to zombie through seems like a fair tradeoff. For example with a Firefox toolbars since they are provided through add-on and extensions, only allow installs from the official Mozilla website.
For Firefox, you can play around with the preferences described here: mike.kaply.com/2012/02/21/understanding-add-... to help lock things down (though I think the Ask toolbar and possibly others intentionally break these preferences by changing files at the system level).