EULA’s, which are the End User license Agreements that pop up during any software installation, are so long winded and ambiguous in meaning that most people skip right over them. I don’t blame anyone for not reading his or her EULA because it’s about as much fun as a trip to the dentist and way more bewildering. Perusing over the equivalent of 10 pages of legal jargon looking for any questionable wording that could invite unwanted services to your system is not my opinion of pleasurable reading. And, after I’m done, I could only tell you about half of what I’d just read. I’m no lawyer and even more importantly I have no patience but, to make sure all my programs are safe, I read the EULA’s. If you don’t read EULA’s then there could be all sorts of questionable code put on your system. This code could be using up resources in order to send you more ads and offers or tracking your surfing habits online. Companies seem to think of these as “features” which are totally acceptable to install as long as it’s obscurely stated in a EULA. I call these features intruders and they are not worth installing especially when the only benefit is to the program manufacturer.
Well, let me tell ya, reading EULA’s just got easier and a lot more fun with the EULAlyzer . The EULAlyzer is a EULA reading program that spots key words out of the body of the a EULA. This is like a dream come true for me because the EULAlyzer can scan a EULA in seconds where it would take me minutes. The EULAlyzer scans the EULA looking for key phrases and words pulling out every instance and presenting them in summary at the end of the scan. It enables you to quickly determine if you want this new software on your system or not.
Besides the ability to scan EULAs for key words, EULAlyzer has a couple of other cards up its sleeve. After a EULA scan the program will (depending on how you have it set up) prompt you to send the results to the EULA Research Center to further help the company to improve their products. You can also take this scan information and save it locally for referencing later. I don’t know why you would want to do that, but you can.
In short, it’s never a good idea to install software without looking at the EULA. More and more they are becoming almost cryptic and confusing in the message they are trying to convey. You should scrutinize software even from reputable companies. Look at Sony and their rootkit installation in early November. (Check out the Security Article from 11-16-05 for more info) Sony’s rootkit debacle is an example to what lengths some of these companies are willing to go in order to protect their product – even at the complete expense of their customers.
It seems that all a company has to do is to make some sort of mention of the full impact of their software in the EULA to take any blame off of them. Not to mention if a company puts this in their EULA it disqualifies them as Spyware. Look at Gator or the free Incredimail for example. They contain Spyware but not labeled as such because that info is in their EULA.
Protect yourself and read your EULA’s. The EULA will shed some light on any ulterior motives the software you are about to install may have thereby giving you the power to stop any anguish before it starts.
~ Chad Stelnicki