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Where Did THAT Come From?

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 by | Filed Under: Using The Internet
 
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Ever opened up your browser, and all of the sudden your home page is different or there is a tool bar at the top you don’t recognize? You probably recently installed some new program, and it had extra software “wrapped” up with it. You probably agreed to install it, without even knowing it, as annoying as that may be.

When you do a search for something you’d like to download, you likely find several links. It’s always good to look for the actual creator in the address to verify it’s the real version. Notice on this screenshot for my search of Avast (an antivirus program) download the first two are from avast.com, but the third is from download.com.

Downloading from the main source can reduce the risk of extra programs being added. But not always. More on that later on. First, let’s take a look at how you may be tricked into this software installation.

Let’s say I want to download a program called Magic Camera (just an example, I didn’t test the program itself, so this is not an endorsement to download it). I did a web search and found a site to download it from. I click on Download now, ignoring the little blue “Direct Download link” that’s so tiny I missed it.

 

 Now I’m able to go through the installation steps. First, it will download the installer, then I click on the downloaded file to run the installer. One of the first screens I see is this:

I just read the top that says Click Accept to continue the installation. But read and see what I’m actually installing. The main screen says that Search Protect will change the home page of IE, Google Chrome, and Firefox, AND prevent 3rd parties from making changes. At the bottom it says, “By clicking ‘Accept’ you confirm that you have read and agree to the Search Protect Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and agree to install Search Protect.”  But who reads that stuff? Click Accept.

Next screen…

Another accept window. I just click Accept, because, again, who reads all this? But by clicking accept, I have just agreed to install GreatArcadeHits, which will serve “advertising through in-text, pop-up/under, transitional, and banner ads in your web browser”. Yes, I just agreed to this. So now they have hijacked my browser home page and will give me pop ups and banners.

This just goes to show you to be careful what you download. Read ALL those windows, don’t just blindly accept. But also, be careful when you uninstall. When testing these installation techniques, I downloaded a program called Drive Boost (again, not a promotion for the software.) When installing I saw this window at the end of the installation.

I saw that tiny little check mark that tried to get me to install an additional program, but I was smart enough not to leave that checked! Once I decided I didn’t need the program, I went to uninstall it and saw this window:

The instinct is to immediately click on the BIG RED BOX! But stop and look at what it says. Uninstall and Get Advanced SystemCare FREE. The same program they tried to get me on when I installed. What I really want to do is click that tiny link below that says “No, I want a full uninstall.” Can you see how easy we get suckered in?

But it’s not just downloads from small companies, big business suck us in too. Have you run a Java update lately? It is recommended to keep it up to date, but be careful, because every time you update, you will see this screen:

 Those check marks are there automatically, so if you just hit next, you may find the Ask toolbar at the top of your browser, and your default search will be set to Ask as well. Keep in mind, every time you need to update Java, this window comes up and is checked by default, so pay attention if you do not want that option.

This type of software can be added to any installer, even well known companies. Just be careful where you download from, and read those dialog boxes and windows that come up to be certain what you are installing. It’s easy to get fooled but now you will be wiser to these tactics.

-Audra

 

 

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12 Responses to “Where Did THAT Come From?”

  1. Michael Eidsvik says:

    Thank you for the tip, unfortunately this one I learned the hard way more then once…

    • audra says:

      Michael,

      I think we’ve all been suckered into this at one time or another! It’s so easy just to click through and not pay attention.

  2. John Dickey says:

    Great article , I hope it keeps someone from downloading some of the junk that comes with these products .

  3. John Ward says:

    Audra, thank you for posting this. It is a huge aggravation and more plus it is growing every day. You have given good advice here on a problem for most all of us. I get absolutely fed up with these kinds of tactics from companies large and small, and from so e individuals. So happy to see you posted this. Thank you.
    John

  4. MarkJ says:

    Great tip Audra, like others that should know better I have gotten bit by this at times also.

    FYI, On download.com I always look for the direct download link and if it isn’t there then I don’t download the application no matter how badly I want it. I don’t want to download some dumb download manager that CNET likes to try to get you to use because that is where a lot of the junk you are talking about comes from.

    Also I have multiple computers and support several family members so I always want to full clean install file. Of course these still try to install other things like in your last example but those are easier to avoid.

  5. Fred says:

    I have two computers that are both tied up with a virus because of this exact process. I am close to shutting them both down and just doing business like I did before computers. What really hurts is I have Avast (who wants $200 to clean my computer or $300 to clean both) and Malware-Antimalware (no phone access there). This virus just shut down the latter, walked around it, and installs itself and Avast just watched. Granted this is all my fault, but $300? I don’t think so!
    Peace…

  6. Al says:

    Excellent information. Wish the unscrupulous companies would stop and heed good business practices rather then hurt the general population that need this service.

  7. Alberta says:

    This just happened to my husband on Thursday. Ijust wish I saw this sooner. I rarely download and read everything before I do. This is great information and I am sharing it with our children and grandchildren.

    Thanks. Very very helpful

  8. K.Vee.Shanker. says:

    Hi Audra,

    It’s good that you’ve brought out the potential pitfalls one will encounter during the download. But, there’s one more important trap that needs to be exposed to your readers.

    You’ve brought up the Download.com page as a right example. Because, this site is notorious for misleading the users. When you click the Download Button in a software article of this site, you’re taken to a download page which is littered with Download links and Buttons all around. Anyone would be clicking the wrong button if not careful!

    It’s unfortunate even reputed software developers are indulging in ‘Buyer Beware’ tactics.

  9. Earline says:

    thanks, this is a big help to know what to watch for in downloading

  10. [...] has been isntalled on your coputer. You haven’t actually really been hacked.  iStart123 is one of those programs that tags along on downloads. If you aren’t too careful, you end up installing it on your computer without knowing. [...]

  11. Tom Main says:

    I got the ASK browser and have to ignore it as uninstalling it is a major project. ASK offers a solution, but why should I trust them? I wonder if they realize how repugnant is their behavior.

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