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CNET Installer Spyware

by asawadude / November 14, 2012 4:23 PM PST

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

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 Installer" page (;downloadLinks), It states "The 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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by gbfromsea / November 16, 2012 5:02 AM PST
In reply to: CNET Installer Spyware

I couldn't agree more with you . I somehow installed that stupid Clarobar and it is a nightmare to get rid of. I disabled all the extensions and it somehow keeps resetting my homepage. So I'm running a Spybot Search and Destroy hoping it will remove the problem.

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You just said everything I was going to say.
by jenniferPlisa / November 18, 2012 3:42 AM PST
In reply to: CNET Installer Spyware

I WILL NEVER USE CLARO. NEVER. I've trusted CNET for a long time but now after spending 2 days fighting to get rid of the spam they helped attach to my computer I will not be trusting them again. HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THIS CRAP!?

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me too!
by ladelga / November 22, 2012 11:41 PM PST

I had the same bad experience with a download/install this week. The crapware is difficult to remove and is related if not the same as "babylon". I finally managed to remove it (I think) by un-installing "browsermgr". This browser high jack will present you with one of those "prove you are not a computer by typing in this script" verifications. I tried 4 times before it finally looks like it uninstalled. I am not sure whether spybot will remove it, but I know it got past my mcafee scan and passed the microsoft security essentials scan.

I am very disappointed in CNET. I have trusted them for years, but never again. It is very sad. If you can't trust their download system, how can you trust any of it?

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similar experience with that rectangular space
by hitex45 / November 26, 2012 6:21 PM PST
In reply to: CNET Installer Spyware

Wouldn't like to name the bug but it showed up full face on
Firefox and Chrome. Bugged me by blocking use of browser
and on the second day started spouting messages, like,
"your disk is breaking" or something like that.
Like a raging bull in a nice living room.
Had to spend two days recovering my newly bought Notebook,
and above that, it broke down my settings to the internet.
Yes my other 3 year old faithful also was beginning to act
wierdly. Took me a whole day today repairing.
Today it seems CNET downloads seem to be normal,
by no means will I use the "brazen installer".

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by amberartall / December 7, 2012 9:48 AM PST
In reply to: CNET Installer Spyware

Ok, I downlaoded 2 photo editing software programs yesterday and found that C-NET installed(without my permission) a hidden program with each one. One was the coupon companion thing and the other one was something else but not the claro toolbar thing it was something different. I just went into my control panel and deleted them but was just wondering for the sake of my new computer if anyone knows if those programs have viruses, rootkits, or bots?

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Other example
by tomnikuk / January 1, 2013 8:29 AM PST
In reply to: CNET Installer Spyware

When downloading NUONSOFT from CNET (to manage wallpapers) it is difficult to avoid also downloading IMINET, which (like Babylon) is pernicious software that gets into all internet browsers as the preferred (!) engine and is almost impossible to eliminate without rebuilding one's machine.It is completely disgraceful that CNET pertmits or encourages such an invasion.

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More Numerous Instances of Virus and Spyware
by Lord_Glorfindel / January 23, 2013 3:02 AM PST
In reply to: CNET Installer Spyware

I have found the only way to get word out about CNet's Download services continuing to unload virus and other forms of malware on us users ... is to mention the fact in my reviews of the particular software involved (without sounding negative toward the software itself). However, I hope this forum is a better way to voice my concerns. Mind you, I fully appreciate the download service and the software I glean from it, but it is inexcusable to allow contaminated files to be downloaded. Fortunately my Symantec (Norton) safeguards have been catching such predator software. My fear is that it MAY NOT catch something in the future. I agree with the negative views of of the CNet Installer, but I also find malware in direct downloads. The latest via the CNet Installer was the PDF995 printer driver software, in which case Norton blocked both adware and a virus infected file. INEXCUSABLE.

The frequency with which these infections occur is alarming. So much so that I try all means known to find downloads from other sources than CNet. In the last 3 months alone, I have encountered six such attacks. In the past it seems it was a very rare occurrence from CNet.

Quite simply, I cannot understand how CNet could possibly continue, under these circumstances, to allow such infections. If the CNet Installer is victim of a large portion of these, it should be discontinued ... not to mention the general dissatisfaction with the push of unwanted software onto us users. It would be nice to hear from a CNet authority about all this.

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Hi, I'm cnet and I don't care.
by rmf919 / January 31, 2013 5:49 PM PST

I preferred it when this site was just called Then it wasn't a haven for "secure installer" issues. Seriously. Be honest with your customers and stop calling your installer "secure". You might as well label it "spyware, adaware? this way please". In what dimension do serious people allow novice mistakes like this to affect people? Hello.. Most of the time, the spyware, adware installed can be declined right in the installer. But that doesn't help. And that's precisely the issue. As an amateur programmer, I know bugs are inevitable but this kind of laziness (that's been happening for a year)? It's inexcusable and bordering on sheer stupidity. Please, for the love of all that is right with the internet, fix your ****. =/

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Something has gone seriously wrong with
by johnmaher / March 12, 2013 6:32 AM PDT
In reply to: CNET Installer Spyware

Well posted!

Here is a copy of my posting on this section of the forum.

I have always used as a safe place to go to download software, whether free, on trial, or for purchase.

The other day I downloaded CamStudio for my Asus X53E i5 laptop, running Windows 7.

Firstly, the software simply didn't install.

But, more importantly, it came with a toolbar and search engine attached [Mixi DJ Search].

Not only that, it surreptitiously installed a programme which protects Mixi DJ Search from efforts to change the search engine. It locks the laptop into using this software.

I have uninstalled the related software and followed instructions to remove Mixi DJ Search. But this search engine has bitten my laptop like a nasty dog and will not let go.


For years I have trusted you.

But this is the second time I have been savaged by rogue software on your site [the first time being Babylon Dictionaries].

On the section of your website, you ask for the user to report any malware found on your site.

But you do not give any means of contacting you.

Shame on you for adopting the sharp practices that seem to be currently plaguing American commerce and business.

Should I be reporting this malware to the FBI?

Because they seem to be the only ones currently taking an interest in malpractice in the IT world!

Link to your onsite request to notify you of rogue software... with no means on contacting you: []

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