Spyware, Viruses, & Security forum


CNET Downloading Malware

by askbill49 / December 24, 2012 7:10 AM PST

I downloaded a program off of CNET and was infected with babylon.
Copied this from a web site.
CNet's Evil Crapware Babylon toolbar Bundling

In the continuing long decline of the download.com web site, it seems they have decided to start bundling malware with their downloads.

As described by Fyodor over at seclists.org.

"I've just discovered that C|Net's Download.Com site has
started wrapping their Nmap downloads (as well as other free software
like VLC) in a trojan installer which does things like installing a
sketchy "StartNow" toolbar, changing the user's default search engine
to Microsoft Bing, and changing their home page to Microsoft's MSN.

The way it works is that C|Net's download page (screenshot attached)
offers what they claim to be Nmap's Windows installer. They even
provide the correct file size for our official installer. But users
actually get a Cnet-created trojan installer. That program does the
dirty work before downloading and executing Nmap's real installer."
As well as doing it to a number of free open source products they have done it with our OSForensics package as well. In our case they are distributing a file called cnet2_osf_exe.exe with our software. This contains the "Babylon toolbar". See screen shot below.

A number of the Anti-virus packages are already flagging the bundled software as a Trojan.
http://www.virustotal.com/file-scan/report.html?id=5bd70802c051fd95d0d78ac168385cd5047 05c00526ded2fd5edebdcc32d48f6-1323139801

Needless to say, it is pretty evil for CNet to do this without informing us.

Other developers have stated that if you pay CNET for advertising then CNet doesn't bundle their crapware. Which make it more like blackmail. If we get an additional details, we'll add to this post.

So for the moment we strongly suggest you don't use download.com. Go direct to the developer's sites for your downloads.

More details here,

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We sincerely apologize for any confusion here.
by CNETSupport / January 2, 2013 4:23 AM PST

The CNET Download.com Installer is an ad-supported stub installer or "download manager" used for many software titles on our site, and does offer additional, optional third party applications during the installation process. All offers included in the Installer are tested to make sure that they conform with our security policies prohibiting malware and spyware, and all may be declined or opted-out of without affecting the initial download.

If you need help uninstalling Babylon, please see this page:


In future, if you do not wish to use the CNET Download.com Installer, you always have the option of using the "Direct Download Link" instead. All products on CNET Download.com have a direct download link, but only "CNET Installer Enabled" products call it out separately.

Depending on your browser and the specific product you are looking at, you can find the "Direct Download Link" in one of three places on the page for CNET Installer Enabled items:

- Right underneath the green "Download Now" button

- By mousing over the green "Download Now" button in order to see and click the "Direct Download Link" in a pop-up bubble

- By mousing over the blue "CNET Installer Enabled" text in the "Quick Specifications" column to the right side of the product page to see and click the "Direct Download Link" in a pop-up bubble

You also have the option to turn off the Installer for the whole site, though you do currently need to have a CNET account and be logged in to take advantage of that feature. To do so, login to the site, click the "My profile" link and then the "Update my Download.com Preferences" link, select the "Off" option and click the "Save Changes" button.

You can read more about the Installer here:


Please note that the articles you linked to were all published over a year ago, and since then, we have implemented several changes to better clarify when a product uses the CNET Download.com Installer. Chiefly, on the product page for such an item, the words "CNET Installer Enabled" will be visible, and, as previously mentioned, a separate "Direct Download Link" will be included on the page. In addition, if you click the "Download Now" button for an Installer Enabled item, "Welcome to the CNET Download.com Installer" will appear on the first screen of the installation process. Any offers presented on subsequent screens may be declined or opted out of, or you can completely close the Installer and go back to use the Direct Download Link on the page instead.

If you need any further assistance or wish to submit any additional feedback, please contact our support team directly by filling out the form on the following page and clicking "Submit" to finish:


CNET Customer Help

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That helps a little, however
by wpgwpg / January 2, 2013 4:38 AM PST

I suggest you post that info on the Download.com site, since I doubt if the majority of your users will see this notice. I wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't been following the Live Update forum. I have to say that it sure is aggrevating when you're trying to teach an Internet class to have to deal with this out of the blue. Somebody at CNET really really really wasn't thinking when they implemented this change.

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Malware downoad from Cnet site
by heartky / October 12, 2013 3:05 AM PDT

I agree with the first response. Cnet's answer is weak and disingenuous.

There should be absolutely NO WAY to be mislead from the Cnet site.

When you click on something from Cnet and end up with Malware however so
"slight" it destroys the credibility of Cnet.

You can't be "slightly" pregnant

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