Sponsored Search Links Delivering Crapware

Sponsored Search Links Delivering Crapware

Today, we came across two great articles by Matt Safford at Consumer Reports that take a detailed look at the problem with searches that reveal sponsored links for common software titles that are repackaged with foistware.

One of the easiest ways to turn a brand-new computer into one cluttered with unwanted programs and crawling with various forms of malware is to start grabbing your favorite free software from the wrong sites.

The problem is, Google and Bing searches can easily lead you exactly where you don’t want to go. When searching for popular software such as iTunes or Adobe Flash Player, sponsored search results (in other words, ads) often appear at the top of popular searches, above links from the actual source sites such as Apple and Adobe. And those ad links often try their hardest to stealthily install software on your computer that you probably don’t want.


Recommendations from Consumer Reports Article:

1. Avoid clicking on sponsored links
2. Get your software from the source whenever possible
3. Familiarize yourself with a few trusted file download sites
4. You still may wind up with unwanted software
5. Learn to love your uninstall screen

Shady downloads pushed by Google, Microsoft are turning people away from PCs

by Matt Safford

A much bigger problem that doesn’t often get talked about is the sponsored ad links that often show up above Google or Bing search results. If you don’t know enough not to click on these links when downloading software (and millions don’t), even a brand-new PC can be crawling with malware and popups just minutes after you take it out of the box.

Why would Google and Microsoft let this happen? The short answer, of course, is money.


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13 thoughts on “Sponsored Search Links Delivering Crapware”

  1. Jeff Walters nothing wrong with that. I'm not into Smart phones either – but I am a system builder (computers). Computers are used for much more than social networking and games. For example, mine is also a media center as well as my work horse for most everything computer related (removing malware from other PCs, backing up files, etc.). None of the software needed for a media center, and very few of the other programs that I use (some often, some occasionally) are found on Ninite. I just think it's worth pointing out the weaknesses of Ninite as well as the strengths. 🙂

  2. David Wendorf I'm probably not what people would consider an average PC user. I'm not into most of the social network crap and games that most average users are. I'm not much into using smartphone technology either. My phone is my phone and my computer is still a desktop model with a mouse and keyboard. I'm into fooling around with photo manipulation stuff and few aviation simulator games that I like. I guess I'm probably just a technology dinosaur.

  3. Ninite (either through the website or as a stand alone program) is a valuable resource – BUT care needs to be taken when using it. It covers only bare essentials and only the latest versions. EG: They have the latest version of KMPlayer, which is filled with ads. Anyone wanting version (without ads) is out of luck and would be shocked at the update that Ninite provides. Ninite also does not cover Pot Player, which is what the original developers of KMPlayer are now supporting. I find Ninite great for locked down work networks, but severely limited for the average PC user.

  4. Even freeware from the source and unchecking all crapware via custom installation is no longer guaranteed to eliminate crapware being installed to your computer. Upon opening a DivX file yesterday I was alerted by DivX Player that an update was available. I clicked on the update link. The installation greeted me with Conduit terms and conditions checked. I unchecked the box agreeing to the terms and conditions and the installation for DivX Player continued. Still found a new "Search the Web" icon on my desktop. Unchecky didn't catch the Conduit nor the Search the Web shortcut installations. It's not about having "common sense" anymore as much as it about freeware succumbing to questionable tactics. I've been a system builder for decades and I can't circumvent all crapware anymore. Those who claim that they can are foolish.

  5. Probably, oh, half the downloadable software at CNET – especially the freeware – will, if you choose the default ('express', 'recommended') rather than custom setup method – install unwanted toolbars and such – that hijack your home page and search engine, and are difficult to remove: the Babylon and Conduit Search being two of the worst. Beware of MyPC Backup as well.

    1. @Morris Tate: JRT (Junkware Removal Tool) is donationware which works at the DOS level. If you use it, donate – it’s worth it. It can get rid of a lot of crap. Included in that is the dreaded AVG Toolbar and Search Engine that accompany a change of home pages to theirs. SuperAntispyware Pro (SAP) should not be underestimated nor should Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. If you use Chrome and then run SAP you will find numerous tracking cookies from Google. SAP deletes them but the next time that you use Chrome they’re back.

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