Malware Is “Everyware”

By | March 14, 2015
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Malware Is “Everyware”

We have been recommending Emsisoft for about 2 years now, and our confidence in the program and the people behind it has only gotten stronger. Emisoft remains THE ONLY antivirus/anti-malware that protects you from virus, Trojans, rootkits, PUPs and other malware.   This is not an ad for Emsisoft…below is an article by ghacks that further shows what we have been saying for years – Malware (adware/PUPs/spyware/crapware) is everywhere and everyware – that’s a new word we coined – you can use it 🙂

While almost any antivirus – including the free ones can protect you from viruses, the change of you getting a virus are very small – the chance you’ll encounter PUPs and other Malware is 99% – if you’re on the Web and you download anything, you’re going to come face to fact with it.

And worse, some of the free antivirus programs are installing malware and PUPs when you install them – Avast and AVG install toolbars and offer to install other useless garbage. It’s pretty bad when something that is suppose to protect you, deceives you into installing the very things you are trying to avoid. Shame on them!

We’re proud of our recommendation of Emsisoft not only because it’s the best security program you can install – but because there’s a great team of people behind it who believe in doing the right thing and providing world-class support for their products.

Read the ghacks article below and keep in mind – this article barely scratches the surface. The malware/PUPs problem runs much, much deeper.

Report: all major download sites serve potentially unwanted programs

Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUP), adware or crapware is terminology for programs offered to you, usually in the form of being included in installers, that have nothing to do functionality-wise with the program you are trying to install.

Software companies and developers include those programs to make money, and while they certainly do so, help spread those programs with the help of the Internet to thousands if not millions of home computer systems.

Not all of these offers are necessarily bad or outright malicious. Popular companies such as Dropbox use these distribution methods to increase the user base. But even those offers may be unwanted and installed, especially since installers use sneaky techniques to confuse users when it comes to making the right choice.

More often than not though, you end up with software on your system that you don’t need. In addition to that, it is often the case that core system settings such as the browser’s homepage or search provider get altered in the process as well.

For software developers, it is one way of making money. Depending on how the product is offered, it may be the only way for them. There are alternatives, certainly. A pro version could be offered for instance with added functionality or for-business use, support could be offered for a price, or donations could be accepted.

The downside for developers is that they may drive away users in the long run because of these offers. In addition, all developers, even those not including adware with their programs, may be affected by download wrappers offered on popular download sites even though they have nothing to do with them and don’t see a single dime of the revenue generated by them.

Reports on the How To Geek website and more recently onEmsisoft suggest that all (Emsisoft all but one) major download sites serve potentially unwanted programs.

imgburn adware

Emsisoft for instance analyzed the top 10 downloads of popular download sites including Download.com, Snapfiles, Sourceforge, Soft32, Softpedia and Software Informer and came to the conclusion that on all but one of them applications were bundled with some sort of PUP. On Download.com, this was the case on all 10 programs. Only Sourceforge did not include PUP with applications according to the report.

If you have been to Sourceforge before, you may know that the site is not as clean as Emisoft’s report makes it look like. Some downloads on Sourceforge are offered with install wrappers that install PUP software.

They inform you about this in the article but have not included download wrapper offers in the stats. If they would have, the situation would look even more grim on many portals and Sourceforge would not have received a 0% adware rating.

Adware Types

Generally speaking, it is necessary to distinguish between two different offer types:

  1. Programs that include adware in their own installer.
  2. Download wrappers offered on some portals that include adware.

In the worst case, users may be exposed to adware in the download wrapper first before they are exposed to a second batch of adware in the program installer.

One cannot really say that one type is worse than the other as they both cause the same damage on user systems but a distinction needs to be made still.

You find clean download links on most sites that offer download wrappers but those are usually not highlighted while the main downloads (with the wrapper) are.

download wrapper clean

What are software sites that cover the majority of programs supposed to do about software that comes with adware offers? Not review and offer them for download? What if it is a major program? This could reflect badly on the portal.

It could however also help marginalize the adware distributed business model on the Internet and convince some developers to offer clean installers without adware offers.

There is certainly space in this world for a software site that blocks any program with adware from being listed on it but it would have to block several popular programs in the process. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though as there are usually alternatives available that can be offered instead.

Some programs are offered in multiple versions, some with adware others without, and it would be possible to host those without adware on the site but there are other programs that come only with adware.

In the end, software sites have the choice. They can increase the site’s revenue by using download wrappers and alienate users in the process, and select to host software programs with PUP bundled or not.

What you can do

  1. Whenever possible, don’t download from major download sites such as Download.com, Softonic, Sourceforge or Tucows.
  2. If you have the choice between an installer and a portable version, pick the portable version as it won’t include adware offers.
  3. Some sites offer clean programs only. You can try Ninite orPortable Apps for a selection of popular downloads
  4. If you ever come upon a site that is serving you adware in one form or the other, boycott it from that moment on and (optional) let others know about it.

6 thoughts on “Malware Is “Everyware”

  1. OzarkMtnNana

    I have used Emsisoft for a couple of years and it is doing o.k. for me, EXCEPT, I am still getting a lot of tracking cookies that slow down my computer and make my mouse go haywire. So, I run Super Anti-Spyware and Spybot Search and Destroy scans on a regular basis to clean them out. It only takes about a week for me to have 200 instances of tracking cookies. Spybot Search and Destroy has found and cleaned up things that the others miss. Both Super Anti-Spyware and also Spybot Search and Destroy are free.

    Reply
    1. infoave Post author

      You are being taken in by the so-called “Tracking Cookie” monster. There is no such thing. All cookies can be said to be tracking cookies, and every one of us that spends any time at all gets dozens, maybe hundreds, of cookies a day. Any cookie can be called a tracking cookie. Since Spybot is horribly out of date (it was good a decade ago but it’s worthless now) finding tracking cookies is about all it can do – and lo! and behold, you can always find some – so you think it’s actually working. SUPERAntispyware lets you turn off detection of tracking cookies and we suggested that a few years back when we were selling it. Norton started the demonization of tracking cookies years ago and everyone else – Avsst, AVG, McAfee and others followed to be competitive. Funny thing, Norton, McAfee, and most others don’t even mention them anymore.

      A cookie or “tracking cookie” cannot possibly slow down your computer – because they’re text files, not programs. The can’t execute (run) and they don’t have to uninstalled, they can simply be deleted like any other text file.

      If your computer is slowing down, it’s not because of cookies or “tracking cookies” Cookies have nothing to do with your mouse. I’m betting you’re using a laptop and your haywire mouse is due to lazy wrist. If your computer is slowing down, getting sluggish, or not working right, you need to look elsewhere, for instance your Windows startups and services.

      200 cookies “tracking” or otherwise is not an unusual amount. Emsisoft detects real threats, not imaginary ones. Emsisoft doesn’t need to find something every time it runs in order to make you think that it is working. That’s a ruse for things like Spybot which once was a leader and now has fallen on hard times. Spyware isn’t the big threat it was five or ten years ago, far more serious things have replaced spyware, like rogues, cryptolocker-type programs, malware that hijacks your Internet connections and other malware. Spybot will get rid of your “tracking cookies” but you could do that without Spybot by just deleting them.

      Emsisoft won’t attempt to lull you into a false sense of security by finding something every time you run it, it will only find something that is actually detrimental to your computer – unlike “tracking cookies” the cookie with the evil sounding name but which aren’t any different that any other cookie – they are all just text files.

      Reply
  2. Carl Cardey

    Just cleaned my wife’s laptop. She says she can hardly use it because of intrusive ads. She has let our grand daughter use it, who is addicted to games. Nuff Said? Oh My God, what a horrible mess. There are close to 40 programs installed that have nothing to do with anything she wants to use.

    What a great article and it hits the problem dead center. MANY Thanks for posting this information.

    Reply
  3. JoanneJ

    Went to both sites you mentioned as safe (Ninite and Portable Apps), and with both the only apparent opportunity to download, was the big green “download”, which you have said are unsafe. A quandry – which – is true?
    Didn’t want to take the risk that “green” is not safe.

    Reply
  4. Deanna Baugh

    I LOVE Emsisoft…it is great!!!! Thanks for the recommendation!

    Reply
  5. Janice M

    Emsisoft is GREAT! It’s kept my computer safe for a year now and I just renewed it today. Love it & recommend it to all my friends & family! Thanks for always steering us on the straight and narrow! You two are the “best-est”

    Reply

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