So which download site can you trust, anymore?

By on March 1, 2015 10:05:36 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

DrJBHL

Join Date 04/2002
+2262

 

Crapware, tool bars, malware, adware, browser hijackers, wrapped software…

The decent sites try to alert you…the others? Switch around the buttons, make it look like a terms and conditions statement, put in ads, even APIs with who knows what functions in them…the latest trend? Pushing lookalike copies of Google Chrome with adware bundled directly in them! Who reads the fine print, even when you navigate through all the double negatives and obscuring language?

So…the writer of this article (Lowell Heddings) did the research and took on the top ten download sites to see which is safe.

Which ten? Download.com (C|net), Tucows, FileHippo, Softpedia, SnapFiles, FreewareFiles, NoNags, SourceForge, Google2SRT, and MajorGeeks.

All had bundled software or worse. At least with MajorGeeks when you look (and I recommend you do look) at the header over the software, where they’ll tell you if it’s bundled, and in red if there’s adware (but far down the page like Softpedia)…but you have to look and NOT ASSUME that it’s clean.

An amusing quote?

“We actually talked to the owner of MajorGeeks about this, and he said that if he only listed freeware downloads that don’t contain bundled crapware, he’d have almost no downloads to list and would just have to close up shop. So he makes sure to mark things as containing bundled crapware, and there’s a notice at the bottom. We wish the notice was bigger, and more prominent, but we’ll have to give him credit for at least trying to do the right thing. And for testing every single thing that they put on the site before they put it up there.” – howtogeek

About the “download only from the official site”?

One of the most common responses to our article was that people should just download from the official site. And as everybody knows, you use Google to find anything. Ohhh… that’s unfortunate.

Sadly, even on Google all the top results for most open source and freeware are just ads for really terrible sites that are bundling crapware, adware, and malware on top of the installer.

Most geeks will know that they shouldn’t click on the ads, but obviously enough people are clicking those ads for them to be able to afford to pay the high per-click prices for Google AdWords.” – howtogeek

When you see “free”, just know the real product is you.

A truly safe site? nirsoft.net and maybe one other…

Sources:

http://www.howtogeek.com/207692/yes-every-freeware-download-site-is-serving-crapware-heres-the-proof/

http://www.howtogeek.com/198622/heres-what-happens-when-you-install-the-top-10-download.com-apps/

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March 1, 2015 11:12:32 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Don't worry - Mr. Wheeler will fix it. 

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March 2, 2015 1:02:44 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

I won't download from any other freeware/shareware hosting site than Majorgeeks, but then I'm fairly selective about what I download [there's only a handful of programs I'm interested in] and always heed the crapware warnings... not that I'm very often confronted with it.

As for googling homepages?  Fech Google!  For the most part I just know the site I wish to visit and I type it directly in the address bar  For anything I'm not sure of I do a search on either Yahoo or Bing, and even then I make sure the result I click on IS the home page and not some imitation.  I got caught several years ago when I was still a PC novice and knew little about online scams, etc. 

Yeah, I thought I was downloading a legitimate copy of Firefox from the Mozilla download page, but in actual fact it was one of those imitation/bogus sites and I ended up with toolbars, unwanted home pages and hijackers directing me to advertising pages for crap I'd never but in a pink fit.  Needless to say it was uninstalled pronto and replaced with a bone fide copy.

Once bitten, as they say.... and truly, one has to be on his/her guard whenever on the net these days.  There's just too many arseholes looking to do the wrong thing, and sometimes they're hiding in plain sight, not just the nooks and crannies.

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March 2, 2015 3:55:18 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

There is no safe now in internet specialy for the freeware and shareware site like that.

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March 2, 2015 4:49:23 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

If you're using a search engine to find the official site for downloading drivers/browsers, I'd strongly advise using duckduckgo. It doesn't track, and it doesn't use advertising ranking. It also makes quite clear the official site. That in and of itself is not a 100% guarantee since Flash (for example) offers McAfee's antiviral scan with every update and therefore, Flash player's update setting should be 'notify' and not 'update automatically'. Adding "Web of Trust" wouldn't be a bad thing.

You could try using ninite since it notifies or discards updates for software which are 'bundled'/'wrapped'.

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March 2, 2015 6:07:42 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

personally on downloads first I only use the original site, then during the install I also use a program called unchecky (from http://unchecky.com/) that claims to disable the install options for the crapware(and does seem to)

Harpo, the NON-subscriber

 

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March 2, 2015 7:20:41 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Unchecky clears the check boxes BUT, the clever wording in some of the software installers frustrates that...some check boxes have to be checked. So, you have to understand English very well because there are double negatives and sneaky wording which not everyone understands.

There's no real choice...you have to read and understand each screen correctly...and even then, crap gets through. And even if you don't allow the installation of the crapware/adware/toolbars, etc., it's still on your machine, supposedly inactive.

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March 2, 2015 7:28:55 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

There is no free lunch...    Good read Doc, thanks!

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March 2, 2015 8:48:23 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Welcome, Barb!

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March 2, 2015 11:53:32 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Quoting DrJBHL,

since Flash (for example) offers McAfee's antiviral scan with every update

I'm glad you mentioned that, it crossed my mind when I read the OP, but I thought "Nah, not quite really what he's talking about."  It sounded better coming from you.  It's a pet peeve of mine, it bothers me that they're still trying to slip that in after all this time.  Seriously, enough of that Adobe.


When you see “free”, just know the real product is you.

Words to live by.

Thanks for the post.

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March 2, 2015 1:11:15 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Welcome, DaveRI...that Flash thing always bothers me as well and there's no choice "Don't offer that again, please".

It could potentially harm your security as it does demand (and receives) an elevation of privileges to scan, and I'm not at all sure about how it updates its 'definitions' which are necessary for it to 'work' but you can only alter the frequency of the scans, not the updates. Also, I don't know the "address" for updates some use http. Seriously. Some don't digitally sign files and some don't verify the whole certification chain...you can learn more from the Joxean Koret pdf below...

Finally, having one antiviral is enough...adding this McAfee won't increase your security and might very well set up conflicts which compromise your computer more.

 

http://promos.mcafee.com/en-US/PDF/adobe_mssp_faq.pdf

https://www.java.com/en/download/faq/mcafee.xml

http://www.pcworld.com/article/261165/mcafee_antivirus_update_causes_problems_for_home_and_enterprise_customers.html

http://www.syscan360.org/slides/2014_EN_BreakingAVSoftware_JoxeanKoret.pdf

 

 

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March 2, 2015 4:43:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting DrJBHL,

That in and of itself is not a 100% guarantee since Flash (for example) offers McAfee's antiviral scan with every update and therefore, Flash player's update setting should be 'notify' and not 'update automatically'. Adding "Web of Trust" wouldn't be a bad thing.

You could try using ninite since it notifies or discards updates for software which are 'bundled'/'wrapped'.

 

the flash (silent) autoupdate adds mcafee?? i always assume it goes with whatever version of installer you previous installed.. ie.. if you installed without mcafee, it'll stay without mcafee.... that is.. unless you get bounced to the website to grab a new installer (new major version only? not really sure when you get bounced)... then you'll have to pay attention... again.

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March 3, 2015 6:57:56 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Quoting starkers,

For anything I'm not sure of I do a search on either Yahoo or Bing,

Won't be using BING anymore... was just told that MS sold it to Google, so have since removed the Bing search option from my browser and replaced it with Duck Duck Go.

Feching Google and its insatiable thirst for power, data and knowledge... enen that which should be privte/personal.

With a bit of luck the Nth Koreans or someone 'll blow Google's HQ and other establishments clean off the face of the Earth.

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March 3, 2015 7:20:37 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Quoting starkers,

Won't be using BING anymore... was just told that MS sold it to Google

Nothing about it on duckduckgo, Mark.

There was some talk recently about a sale to face book...but that hasn't happened, and were it to be sold to Google, that news would have hit the net for sure.

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March 3, 2015 11:46:26 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Orright, maybe my source read about something that hasn't happened as yet and got it mixed up, which is quite possible, given how many sales of assets and companies are on the cards one minute and off the next.

Thing is, he seemed pretty sure of what he'd read, so I'll have to ask when next he visits at to what his information was exactly and where he got it.

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