Spyware, Viruses, & Security forum


CNET infecting my computer on purpose

by 74hodag / August 18, 2011 1:57 PM PDT

I just downloaded an nVidia driver for my computer using CNET. This new CNET installer thing pops up and tells me I should install the StartNow toolbar, make MSN my homepage and use Bing as my default search engine. I unchecked the boxes that offered those things and proceeded with the install, not thinking for a single moment that CNET wouldn't honor my request to not install this crap.

After my download completed and the software installed I rebooted, opened Firefox and guess what.....you guessed it, there was the StartNow toolbar, Bing in place of Google as my default search engine and MSN as my homepage.

So, I did a bit of checking and found out that the StartNow toolbar is classified as malicious spyware here: spywaredb.com/remove-startnow-hyperbar/

Thanks a lot CNET. You can bet I will stop all my CNET newsletters and I will NEVER come to this site again. I have used CNET for many years way back to the Windows 95 era, but this is the end. Never again will my browser grace your site and I will also tell all my friends & customers (I'm a computer tech) to stay away.

Good bye.

Note: This post was edited by a forum moderator to disable auto-linking to dangerous website on 08/19/2011 at 9:10 AM PT

Post a reply
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: CNET infecting my computer on purpose
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: CNET infecting my computer on purpose
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
A few mods did some checking on spywaredb. It was not good.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 18, 2011 11:51 PM PDT
Collapse -
Maybe spywaredb isn't good but...
by 74hodag / August 19, 2011 3:47 AM PDT

But I unchecked the boxes to make sure that no changes were made to my browser and still everything installed. That's not sayiing much for CNET.

Collapse -
See below.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 19, 2011 4:59 AM PDT

As long as you visit red flagged sites like spywared I fear your computer problems will continue.

Collapse -
I left out the b on my post.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 20, 2011 2:03 AM PDT
In reply to: See below.
Collapse -
Can you read??
by 74hodag / August 23, 2011 6:02 AM PDT
In reply to: See below.
It was CNET that infected me! Not spywaredb! I'm not a fool. I have my own computer shop where we fix & sell custom computers. I've been doing this since 1990. Do you understand now?
Collapse -
We alerted this.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 23, 2011 6:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Can you read??

It was another moderator that pointed out that site's poor rating.

I can't find an infection in those downloads.

Collapse -
response from CNET Download.com
by JoelPargot / August 19, 2011 4:53 AM PDT


I work on the download.com team. I am sorry to hear about your recent problem with the CNET

We have done extensive testing with the installer
to ensure that if a user opts-out of an offer they should not receive
it. We will re-evaluate this offer and see if we can reproduce what
happened to you.

We do not require that users download using the
installer, there's also a direct download link. The direct link is
underneath the download now button on the product page. However, we do
require that you be a registered CNET user to access the link.

Collapse -
You realize what is going to happen to your site reputation?
by jeremy.collake / August 20, 2011 10:50 PM PDT

Do you realize what the power-raters at MyWOT and other sites are going to do when they realize this change? All I can say is you guys need to reverse this quick, and issue a massive apology. I'm not going to go inform on you, as I don't want in this mess, but you can rest assured someone will sooner or later.

Collapse -
The change I speak of is your new Download.com Installer
by jeremy.collake / August 20, 2011 10:55 PM PDT

BTW, I am not speaking of some mystical supposed malware infection, I am speaking of your Download.com Installer JUST AS IT EXISTS TODAY. The fact that is is a Bundler is all it takes ... No malware is needed. I don't care how safe the bundles are, nobody wants them.

Collapse -
So, CNET is going that route?
by 74hodag / August 23, 2011 6:07 AM PDT

CNET is going the route of all the other unethical download sites that put trash into people's computers. You shouldn't even consider doing this. Adding stuff to people's computers & changing theiir settings, even if they aren't a member, sucks. If you want to be a trustworthy website you can't do these things. I know I will tell all my customers to watch out for CNET now. In fact I think I'll tell them just what happened to me and let them decide if the still want to visit.

Collapse -
Make opt-out more prominent
by ckettler / August 27, 2011 10:58 PM PDT

I've downloaded two programs since the new installer was implemented. The first time I saw the prompt for it, I was surprised, and opted out. I do not believe StartNow was installed at that time.

The second time I encountered this, I was admittedly in a hurry, and having seen the prompt previously, I blindly accepted that this was the new approach for CNET to offer downloads, and I clicked through to install the application I was looking for.

Shortly after this, I started seeing the StartNow.com toolbar in Firefox, Bing was now my default search engine, and my homepage was changed. Not realizing where it came from, I first went to the settings in Firefox to turn it off. I then realized the toolbar was also on IE. Next step was to uninstall using the Windows program manager. After uninstalling, I found this thread.

Clearly the opt-out function needs to work. I believe it did for my previous download. I believe it was my own carelessness that led to the toolbar install the second download I performed.

Perhaps the opt-out could be made more prominent. Like others who have commented on this, I have trusted CNET over the years as a safe place I can go to download applications without the annoying spam toolbars. Many users are unaware of where these toolbars come from, and I have seen some users screens with 6 or 7 toolbars stacked up above the browser page. The toolbars rarely add any functionality not offered within the browser itself, and at worst, present themselves as some form of malware.

I'm not going to stop using CNET, but I do question the logic of adding a downloader which defaults to installing such a tool.

Collapse -
Oh Boy and the fun begins
by TWB404 / August 19, 2011 11:24 AM PDT

I see CNET and there new secure downloader is not as secure as they claim. This demonstrates why i will not use such things. Nor will I ever log in just to download a program. CNET should drop this nonsense before their reputation is ruined beyond repair.

Collapse -
This member went to spywared.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 19, 2011 11:59 AM PDT

And went ____ ____ ___ all the way to the forums.

Sorry I could not resist.

As long as they go to RED FLAGGED sites, all bets are off.

Collapse -
Please point it out
by TWB404 / August 20, 2011 12:55 AM PDT

I reread his post 3 times and I can not find where he said he went to spywared. I do read that he unchecked the boxes for the toolbar, Bing and MSN. Then I read that he rebooted and he found the toolbar in FF, that his homepage had been changed and that Bing was now his search engine. Please point out how you know he went to the red flagged web page spywared and that is how he got the toolbar, his home page was changed and his Bing became his default search engine.

Collapse -
Sure. It's in his third paragraph.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 20, 2011 1:06 AM PDT
In reply to: Please point it out

Hope you can find it now.

Collapse -
Do not see it
by TWB404 / August 20, 2011 1:36 AM PDT

What I see is that he went to spywaredb. Please help me out some more if you can. Why did you only check wot for a rating on spywared and spyaredb. I have checked multiple rating sites and not one rate either of these sites as bad or should not visit. I will list a couple.

spywared site ratings

AVG rating, just a reminder AVG is CNET recommended AV programs


McAfee rating


Symantec rating


Now lets check spaywaredb ratings

AVG rating, just another reminder that AVG is a CNET recommended AV program


McAfee ratings


Symantec rating


So that is 3 for 3 on both these sites saying they are safe. I am confused on how you can say that either of these sites caused the problem being reported. Now just to be fair, I went and visited both these sites and surfed thru them and I do not have a new toolbar, my search engine is still yahoo and my home page has not changed. My confusion grows even greater on how either of these sites could be the blame for problems this person has experienced.

Collapse -
Best of luck.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 20, 2011 1:44 AM PDT
In reply to: Do not see it

Sorry but if you don't see it then we can't discuss it.

Collapse -
Bob it is plain as day
by TWB404 / August 20, 2011 1:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Best of luck.

He says he went to spywaredb, not spywared. There is a b after the d. I can see that, why can you not see it. Lets ignore the fact that he went to one site and one of us see that and the other thinks he went to the other site. Please explain to me how both of these sites check out just fine by 3 top rated AV companies and I myself visited them and surfed thru them and had nothing bad happen.

Collapse -
It was alerted and
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 20, 2011 2:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Bob it is plain as day

Let's let the Cnet staff sort it out.

There will be some members that will want to take any opportunity to discuss the new downloader and opt out options.

I think you had your own discussion about that.

Collapse -
PS. Here's teh WOT on that. And there is a b.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 20, 2011 2:02 AM PDT
In reply to: Bob it is plain as day
Collapse -
All I can say is WOW
by TWB404 / August 20, 2011 2:18 AM PDT

You depend on one sites rating when they state upfront that this is a user rating site. They have no connection to the AV business nor do they sell ant AV products. Let me post what they say at the top of their site.

Reputation ratings are based on real user ratings and they tell you how much other users trust this site.

I have seen many times how these rating can be manipulated by bot voting or just plain ole fan boy voting. The main thing we need to determine is do these sites have the ability to install a toolbar, change our home page and search engine. I think not. That is why I depend on the ratings of replicable sites that are in the business of looking for malware on a site. I will again remind you or anyone else that AVG is a CNET recommended AV company and they rated both these sites as safe. Also, Symantec and McAfee rated these sites as safe.

SO what we come down to is that your using WOT, who is not in the AV business nor do they have any connection what so ever to checking for or finding malware. They just take a vote. HMMMMMMMMMM

I am using 3 top rated AV companies who actually check the site for malware and all 3 come back and say they are safe. On top of that I went to them and surfed thru them and had no problem what so ever.

Collapse -
Please make a new post so we can let the OP
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 20, 2011 2:28 AM PDT
In reply to: All I can say is WOW

Please make a new post about your concerns. I will clean this up after you do that.

Collapse -
That kinf of scares me
by TWB404 / August 20, 2011 3:26 AM PDT

Clean what up. You have confused me again, what needs to be cleaned up.

My concerns have been covered in this post. We had a member come in and express his concerns about what happened after using the so called CNET secure downloader. The kinds of concerns that I always express to people on why they should never use such things as a downloader tool.

Now neither of us know for sure what happened because neither of us were there at his puter. I do believe these things happened to him and they where caused by the downloader and not by any web site he might have visited. You seem to think that they were caused by a web site he visit to check on the tool bar that was installed. You quoted WOT which is a web site that takes votes by user on the trust worthiness of the site. I used 3 top rated AV companies to rate the sites. I think we should let the readers of the post decide which one need to be trusted and nothing should be cleaned up here.

The only thing we do know for sure is that CNET has decided, for what ever reason, to stop its open use of its download site and to start tracking what its user are downloading. There are many ways to stop people from direct linking to downloads without this approach. They also decided to try to get people to use what they claim is a secure downloader that offers up a toolbar, bing, and MSN. Me myself and I will never use a downloader nor will I ever sign in to download something.

In the end Bob, when I read that you thought it was the web site he visited and did some quick checking I thought it was the downloader. The main reason is that these things happened, as he states, before he went to the web site. All I was doing was offering a different opinion and I do not think nor does it justified being cleaned up.

Keep in mind, I have a lot of respect for most of what you post. I have at least a dozen or more bookmarks that have come from your post on how to fix a problem or do other things on our puters.

From time to time I see a post and it is not just you that has to do more with opinion then a how to thing. Like this one. Again, I will state that neither of us was at his puter when this happened. I just thought it was important that there was a counter opinion to your on what was going on.

Over the years my respect for CNET has been going down because of how they handle what I call the paid for reviews. Now they come out with this so called secure downloader. The respect just drop another notch.

If this post gets cleaned up by you or anyone else at CNET I think the repect level will drop into the negative numbers. I also took the time to take screen shots and do a copy and paste of the whole conversation just in case it does.

Collapse -
Sorry to read this.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 20, 2011 5:03 AM PDT
In reply to: That kinf of scares me

You have hijacked the OP's discussion.

I suggested you start your own discussion so you can get your own replies.

Collapse -
by 74hodag / August 23, 2011 6:11 AM PDT
Thank you for reading my post correctly. That is exactly what happened. I only googled StartNow toolbar after the reboot to see how dangerous it was. I acquired no infections from spywaredb. And I'm a she.

Thanks for the defense!
Collapse -
(NT) Red flagged sites?
by 74hodag / August 23, 2011 6:09 AM PDT
Collapse -
I was scanning for a virus. I see now you are talking about
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 23, 2011 6:52 AM PDT
In reply to: Red flagged sites?
Collapse -
Same problem two months later
by dlojor / October 28, 2011 9:16 AM PDT

I downloaded CCleaner and opted out of StartNow and Bing then I downloaded CCenhancer and didn't get the choice to opt out. When I restarted my browser there was Startnow and Bing.

Not what I have come to expect from CNET!

Two months and not fixed?

Or did StartNow people override CNET's fix?

At least it was easy to uninstall from the control panel.

Collapse -
The Nightmare never ends
by TWB404 / October 29, 2011 12:06 PM PDT

Well it might when everyone figures out not to use the CNET download wrapper. Only download files that do not require you to use the wrapper or sign on to download.

Collapse -
YOUTUBE Download infected my system.
by Vinny42 / May 25, 2012 4:43 AM PDT

Not being an expert it took me hours to get of MYStart and IncrediBar - No more CNET or it's freebies!!!

Popular Forums
Computer Help 49,613 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,349 discussions
Laptops 19,436 discussions
Security 30,426 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,308 discussions
Windows 10 360 discussions
Phones 15,802 discussions
Windows 7 7,351 discussions
Networking & Wireless 14,641 discussions


Big screens for the big game

Still looking for the best TV deals ahead of Sunday's game? Here are our top three big screen picks.