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Written by: Bill Hartzer
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CNET Downloads Now Come with a Bonus: Unwanted Programs and Spyware
CNET Downloads, formerly a trusted source of downloads, now comes with an unhealthy dose of unwanted programs and add-ons installed on your PC without your consent, changed default search settings, and spyware. It’s now unsafe to download anything from CNET.
I spent about half an hour installing and then cleaning up (uninstalling and removing spyware) from my PC after downloading a useful program that I’ve used for a long time–to do screen captures. It’s really a good program that’s easy to use (Camstudio). But after installing, I became disgusted with CNET.
I don’t know about you, but I am officially DONE with CNET and their “CNET Downloads” area or “feature”. It used to be that you could trust the downloads from CNET. But that’s now history. Stay away from CNET. Downloading something from there will add all sorts of spyware and unwanted programs and toolbars and even change settings on your PC without your knowledge.
I am absolutely disgusted with CNET right now.
You would think that by downloading a program from CNET that your download wouldn’t install all sorts of spyware, malware, and junk programs that you don’t want on your PC.
Rather than downloading a program directly from the software developer’s site, I (mistakenly) thought that it might be ‘safer’ to download from CNET. Boy was I wrong! Not only did I get the program I wanted (a screen capture /video screen capture program) but I also got:
– my default search settings changed
– an add-on to Microsoft PowerPoint installed called “visualbee” that I didn’t want
– a toolbar added and installed on Firefox that I didn’t ask for
– an online coupon program called “Coupon Companion” that I didn’t ask for.
– some other programs installed and I cannot figure out what they do. One even had only an “uninstall” feature that the Microsoft Window “add/remove programs” feature didn’t know what to do with.
Goodbye CNET, I can no longer trust you anymore. You’ve officially “sold out” to the spammers and to the spyware creators, and will never again gain my trust. And you did this just for a few bucks.
It’s a shame that CNET had to ruin our relationship this way.
It seems as though I’m not the only one who has caught CNET Downloads inserting spyware and unwanted programs into their downloads. Take a look here at what insecure.org has to say:
It is bad enough when software authors include toolbars and other unwanted apps bundled with their software. But having Download.com insert such things into 3rd party installers is even more insidious. When users find their systems hosed (searches redirected, home pages changed, new hard-to-uninstall toolbars taking up space in their browser) after installing software, they are likely to blame the software authors. But in this case it is entirely Download.com’s fault for infecting the installers! So while Download.com takes the payment for exploiting their user’s trust and infecting the machines, it is the software authors who wrongly take the blame! Of course it is users who pay the ultimate price of having their systems infected just to make a few bucks for CNET.