Dianne says beware of Downloads.com (CNET)
Beware of downloads.com-when I tried to download Musicbee I managed to stop RealPlayer and thought I had stopped Sweet Packs browser helper / Perion Network. I didn’t. I had it in IE10 and Firefox. It hijacked my homepage–yours–and added a updater and a couple of other things. You will find pieces in many different places-I thought Revo Uninstaller got it-but I checked Add and Remove and there it was again. I also had to go to Internet Options for parts of it. At this point I think I found all of it and removed what I found, did a system restore and crossed my fingers. if you have an easier way to find things like this, I’m sure I am not the only one who would appreciate the info. This is HotBar on steroids. I had never heard of it-but I will remember it and downloads.com too. After using downloads.com for years–I won’t make that mistake again. Maybe you will pass this info on so others will be on the lookout for “Sweet Packs” Nothing sweet about it.! Thanks
Dianne, you have highlighted exactly why 90% of the computers we work on have so much malware installed on them. It has become a profitable business to attack computers from the backdoor and to install bundles of software without the user’s explicit permission. It should be illegal, but it’s not.
Bundlers operate on the “fine-print” principle, that before it was made illegal, got so many people in trouble by signing contracts where the most unfair terms were spelled out in the fine print. And bundlers are today’s digital equivalent to fine print.
At one time we would have said to run Malwarebytes to remove all the malware, but, we’re sorry to say, Malwarebytes is almost worthless when it comes to removing the most commonly found malware, adware, spyware, which Malwarebytes once detected as PUPS, but now does not detect at all.
We use many different programs to ferret out malware, but no one of them will find everything, and some aren’t easy to use — and if used incorrectly could result in serious problems, and even may result in the removal of legitimate programs. We’re testing several other anti-malware programs right now, but we’re not at the point, yet, where we can make a recommendation.
The best way to get rid of malware is not to install it in the first place. Do not download from CNET or Downloads.com, they from time-to-time have been noted for installing bundles. The last time we tried them they were clean but obviously you had problems. Do not ever download from a site called Softronics — or you’ll get bundles no matter what you download.
This kind of thing is going to get worse because it’s so highly profitable for the malware creator as well as the distributor. Since it is distributed with freeware, there’s not monetary cost to the consumer — but here is a cost to everyone who install malware — and that cost is compromised privacy, computer problems and corrupted or broken browsers.
Sweet IM is a product of the same company which makes IncrediMail. They’ve got a new product we’re all going to have to watch out for — it’s called SweetPCFix (and we are not kidding). I’m sure you’ll be seeing advertisements all over which tell you that your computer is riddled with errors and how SweetPCFix and make your computer like new again.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, it illustrates very well why things are like they are and why so many peoples’ computers are full of malware.