Hello, Lee! It's the installer rather than any of the downloaded programs. Here's what you did differently: "I didn't find anything and there was no opt in or opt out of getting a Coupon Companion. As a matter of fact, this didn't even come wrapped in the Download.com installer."
We used the installer, and that is what brought in the unwanted file.
I had the same experience on 12/05/2012. I downloaded Ico Converter, deselected the checkbox, and immediately saw CouponCompanion.exe, which AVG flagged as a PUP (potentially unwanted program) later in the day. I was upset, I contacted support, and received this reply:
"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, like Coupon Companion, 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.
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:
So that's the problem-- the installer is deceptive, ignoring the opt-out, and people are screaming because they end up with unwanted software. That helps neither CNet nor the software manufacturer, and it really annoys us. Thanks.