Download.com site feedback forum: CNET Installer Spyware

by: asawadude November 15, 2012 12:23 AM PST

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CNET Installer Spyware

by asawadude - 11/15/12 12:23 AM

Here's a copy of what I sent to CBS Interactive:

I have always considered CNET to be an objective and unbiased voice and a leader in regards to ethics in the technology field. That is until I discovered the changes that have taken place in CNET's Download.com.

Now I've found that CNET is pushing downloads through a custom install exe with the sole purpose of getting the user to install spyware along with the user selected software. Yes, I realize CNET gives users 2 options - to install via the CNET install (highlighted by a big green DOWNLOAD NOW button) or by a direct link (rendered in small font and not very noticeable). That is such a blatant attempt to steer users towards using the CNET installer.

There is more obfuscation when the CNET installer is running. In the "About the Download.com Installer" page (http://download.cnet.com/2701-20_4-1446.html?tag=sideBar;downloadLinks), It states "The Download.com Installer is supported by offers for additional third-party software. Clearly identified offers may be shown during your download. All offers provide a clear method for rejecting the additional software before proceeding with the download." Have you looked at the installer lately? It now attempts to install 2 pieces of spyware. The first spyware (Claro Toolbar) is clearly marked and the user is presented two large buttons, Accept and Decline. The installation of the second piece of spyware, Coupon Companion, is disguised. It's name, Coupon Companion, is not shown on the header of the installation screen. Instead the name of the user selected software is shown. Only two choices are presented - quick installation and custom installation, both of which automatically install Coupon Companion.
The only way to avoid installing Coupon Companion is to check "custom installation" and to uncheck "install Coupon Companion."

It's pretty obvious that the installer was designed to prey on unsuspecting users. By the way, both Claro Toolbar and Coupon Companion are flagged by both of my virus and malware protection progrqams, so CNET's claims that it is protecting its users is total hogwash.

It is so blatantly ridiculous that on the front end of CNET, your staff of writers and editorialists work hard at trying to educate the public on the dangers of viruses, spyware, and malware. Yet on the backend, CNET has become that danger by maliciously feeding spyware to the same users who trust the CNET brand.

In this era when corporate ethics has become exceedingly rare, shall we add you to the growing list of sell-outs?

The trust that I had in CNET is now extinguished.

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