Running with Code Like with scissors, only more dangerous

7Jan/134

Shame on you, Cnet

Please be reminded that what is written on this blog is my personal opinion and not that of my employer.

So today, I went to install BD Advisor from CyberLink. I was trying to play Vudu content on my 27″ iMac (running Windows 8 of course), and was having inexplicable trouble with HDCP (I know that the still-relatively-modern AMD Radeon in the machine is HDCP compliant, as should be the DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter I use for my second monitor). So, after a few forums I looked at recommended BD Advisor, I went to get it. Bing presented a couple of options: Cyberlink’s site, and Cnet’s Download.com. I went for Cnet because I figured that it was more likely to not require me to enter my email address.

I remember back in the day, my friend Charles and I used to surf Download.com *all the time*. We used Download.com before it was Cnet’s (which is forever ago in internet years), and even since then it was a pretty reliable repository for downloadable goodies and freeware. Usually, that freeware was unsullied.

I went through the download process, but instead of getting the BD Advisor installer, I got the “CBS Downloader” or something like that. But I let it go, not seeing another way to get the app I wanted. And it prompted me to go through what I thought were routine license agreements. But when I clicked Accept a couple of times, and my IE instance disappeared, I got to thinking that something might be a little fishy. So I looked a little closer.

It was prompting to install junkware.

I know it’s junkware, because the text saying that it’s what it’s installing is really, really small.

Installer Screen

Now, that might not look terribly small to you. Trust me, on a 27″ screen at 2560×1440, it’s pretty small:

Installer Full Screen

So, recognizing the threat once I had clicked through a couple “Accept” buttons, I fired up Programs and Features, and whatever did I see?
Cnet Installer Installs Spyware

Oh hey, look at that, things I most certainly did not intend to install on my computer! (Wajam and Coupon Companion Plugin)

Even BETTER! When I went to uninstall Coupon Companion, whatever that is, I caught it trying to install MORE spyware from its UNINSTALLER!

CouponCompanion Uninstall Installs Spyware

“Basic Seek, which fixes DNS errors…” no doubt by overriding your default DNS configuration and points it to something which can track your DNS requests. That’s nice.

Happily I was able to quickly get rid of that junkware, and I did get BD Advisor. But look again at the installer:
Installer Screen

See how its “Decline” button makes it look as if hitting Decline will cancel it out? I mean, you could make the argument that “Close” would do that, and therefore “Decline” wouldn’t also, but given the green “go forward” button of “Accept” having a very clear opposite of “Decline,” my initial reaction is, very understandably, that Decline means Stop.

For shame, Cnet. I have come to expect more from you over the years. Today, I’m very disappointed.

Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. That is some scheisty stuff there for sure with the install more on the uninstall screen. Gotta love their resilience.

    And yes, that site has taken a collective dump on its former users big time. Too bad too.

  2. I fell victim to the same scheme. How did you get rid of Basic Seek? It’s not showing up in my Add/Remove Programs list. I’m running a full system scan w/ Symantec to see if that picks it up.

  3. Jon, I’m not sure, but if it works like I expect, then this may work for you.

    Follow steps 1-3 on this page: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Change-TCP-IP-settings and, for step 3, go into IPv4 settings.

    Choose the option “Obtain DNS server address automatically”. When you do that, some input boxes below should gray out. Be sure to click OK afterward.

    Please post back here about whether that was or was not the problem. (I believe it probably was, based on the fact that you said you don’t see any software like that).

    Good luck!

  4. Anyone find anything about removal, or where it is on the computer?? I got suckered into it and didn’t notice the check box until it was too late!


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