Computer manufacturer Lenovo is under fire again- accused of using what many consider to be a pretty-shady tactic on its PCs. You’ll recall that they took heavy criticism earlier in the year for installing SuperFish, a form of adware that can hijack your searches, on its PCs.
Now users say the company is overwriting clean installs of Windows using a rootkit, a tactic that’s often associated with malware attacks. To lower the costs of PCs, manufacturers often install what’s known as “bloatware” on PCs. These programs don’t come standard with Windows and are often trial version of services. But they can take up space and also slow your PC down. Plus, they will often try to force services you have zero interest in on you. Now, you can remove these programs individually or do a clean install of Windows.
In Windows 8 and Windows 10, it’s really easy. You can just choose to refresh the PC and it will take out any programs that aren’t part of the Windows operating system, but leave files like your documents and photos intact.
Lenovo is accused to sneaking around those refreshes and clean installs and using Lenovo Service Engine that will reinstall those apps and also other updates, drivers and firmware. It also rewrites critical parts of the Windows system files with its own. The engine also sends out system data to the Lenovo servers, but the company says that data is not personally identifiable.
But there’s also a hitch with the Service Engine. It has a security bug. Hackers could also use it to install malware. This engine does not meet Microsoft’s security guidelines and Lenovo is now suggesting customers disable the program by running a disabler utility.
This affects Lenovo notebook PCs running Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. Affected models include:
Flex 2 Pro-15/Edge 15 (Broadwell)
Flex 2 Pro-15/Edge 15 (Haswell)
Yoga 3 14
Yoga 3 11
Z70-80 / G70-80
Here’s how to disable it:
If you’re running Windows 8, 8.1 or Windows 10, click here to download the Disabler Tools. Download the program and follow instructions.
The process for Windows 7, is a bit more complicated and the links you need to use will vary by what model of Lenovo you have. Follow this link and scroll down for the Windows 7 instructions.