General discussion

Coupon Companion Adware

Jul 19, 2012 4:41AM PDT

Im very turned off by the new download manager from CNET.

I downloaded a copy of CCleaner today and ran into this new DL manager..... It offered me a copy of Coupon Companion, I declined, made sure I didnt have any check boxes filled out that would install the bloatware and continued my download just fine. CCleaner installed great (After a few more unnecessary clicks...).

Several minutes later my Symantec AV flagged Coupon Companion IN MY PROGRAM FILES!!!! I have no problem with you guys selling advertisement space, hell I dont even have a problem with you guys offering us junkware with our downloads, because your service is great. Ive always trusted your downloads and find it as a way of knowing that what I want to download is what i am actually downloading.

I cant believe that you would install software behind my back and make changes to my system without permission.

Here is what Symantec says about the risk.

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Same problem here
Jul 20, 2012 12:40AM PDT

This is getting annoying with CNET. Had a similar problem with another download. Not going to use anymore even though I have been loyal for 10years. This is judt bad business.

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I agree! Nomore downloads from cnet!
Nov 25, 2012 5:59AM PST

I downloaded an email app to remove spam, only to be spammed by more junk EVEN THOUGH I DESELECTED ALL CHECK BOXES. Absolute crap! No more downloads from this site!!

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If you declined the offer it shouldn't have installed it.
Jul 25, 2012 6:46AM PDT

I'll bring this to the attention of the team.


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I was working on a friends computer yesterday
Jul 25, 2012 6:53AM PDT

and downloaded Ccleaner, Super Anti Spyware, Malwarebytes and Auslogics Disc Defragmenter and made sure everything was unchecked that I didn't installed and nothing but these 4 programs installed, no extra bloatware. Digger

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6 months later and not fixed
Nov 30, 2012 11:52PM PST

It has been six months since you were to bring this to the attention of someone who could fix the problem but yesterday I downloaded a system utility and declined all offers and guess what? Coupon companion was installed without my knowledge. The funny thing is, I never even installed the utility. Just for downloading the program your coupon companion installed on my computer. So it is definitely CNET that is installing malware on my computer. I will never trust CNET again. I suggest nobody else either.

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Same problem
Dec 1, 2012 7:30PM PST

Just got this today. Deleted all the registry keys in order to get this off my machine.

Why would they let this happen?

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Coupon Companion
Jan 28, 2013 5:16AM PST

Same thing here. I downloaded a program, made sure to decline ALL offers, and Coupon Companion is linking all kinds of things in Wikipedia, forums, just about everywhere.

C'mon, CNET. You guys are nerd heroes!

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Before I reported this to the team...
Jul 25, 2012 7:10AM PDT

I went ahead and download it for myself to see if Coupon Companion was part of the download package and 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 installer. The software file was from Piriform labeled as ccsetup320.exe.

I just wanted to make sure we are on the same page about the title you and I downloaded, can you confirm it's this product here?

Let me know.


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CouponCompanion.exe comes in the CNet Installer
Dec 31, 2012 12:11AM PST

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 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 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 Installer, you always have the option of using the "Direct Download Link" instead. All products on CNET 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 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.

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Thanks for the crapware
Aug 8, 2012 6:14AM PDT

I have used Cnet before and never had a problem, but having nothing but trouble now. Twice I found this "Coupon Companion" installed itself in my computer, and now I found out it probably came from you. Are you also responsible for "Yontoo" installing itself along with Revo Uninstaller? It's a good thing I have Revo to uninstall the garbage you gave me behind my back! I'm used to having to comb the fine print in order not to get various toolbars and search engines installed along with software I do want. But to install stuff without even asking? I thought Cnet was a good, reliable source for downloads, and regrettably, I have told my friends that in the past. I will not be using Cnet anymore and I will be telling others not to also.

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CouponCompanion ads have invaded my Twitter, Facebook, etc!
Aug 25, 2012 1:42PM PDT

I can't believe that, a website I've trusted for over five years, would do something like this. I cannot get the semi-smutty ads off my computer screen. Has anyone an idea of what to do?

Thank you!


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Sep 8, 2012 1:16PM PDT

I know. my dad just downloaded somthing onto my computer off of this site. man i thought this site was nice, and cnet decided to download a program onto my computer that just put MORE adware. overall cnet put 37 adware on my computer, thats what norton says.

Norton's default behavior is to make a system restore atleast every 2 days. Restore your system and it deletes every trace of it

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System restore
Sep 8, 2012 1:19PM PDT

Also, forgot to mention, System restores doesnt effect video games, documents, norton, ect. It only effects the DOWNLOADED programs and the main system changes between the time you roll it back and the time you are rolling it back too

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Sep 12, 2012 11:43AM PDT

The same thing happened to me and I am appalled at CNETs behavior, intentionally installing malicious software on my computer.
CNET if you are reading this, I expect you to contact me and offer me a way to remove the malicious software right away, if not I will contact my attorney and the NJ Attorney General's office in NJ to find out if you have committed a compensable tort or if you have just out right broken the law.
You guys are despicable.

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you might want to post full details of the
Sep 16, 2012 2:51AM PDT

download that you think this came in.

I'm sure CNET does not intentionally include "malicious software" in the downloads that it offers and, given the exact file name of the download, and possibly the link to it, the Download Staff will be able to check your assertion.
Remember that a lot of downloads are coming from third party sites, CNET has nothing to do with those other than to supply a link to the download site.

It would also help if you were to name the Malicious Software too.

I have alerted your post to those that can take the necessary action


Note: This post was edited by a forum moderator to fix typo on 09/17/2012 at 9:03 AM PT

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Same problem
Sep 25, 2012 12:30AM PDT

I found this thread trying to find out why I have Coupon Companion installed and where it came from. I use CNET frequently and recently installed CCleaner, so I'm pretty sure that's where it came from. I had a similar, but worse experience a couple of months back when I downloaded another popular cleaning tool from CNET. I forget the tool and the malware, but that one was much more aggressive. The reason I come to CNET is to avoid these problems. I now have very little confidence in the site, which is truly unfortunate.

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There are registry cleaners that
Sep 25, 2012 1:03AM PDT

Registry cleaners can indeed cause more trouble that they are worth and folk today may find installing such may offer up some plug in or cause some formerly dormant app to show up.

If you can share which download it was, then we can alert it and have those that can change this look at it.

If you can't tell which it was, that's OK.

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Update re: last post
Sep 25, 2012 4:49AM PDT

The malware that was downloaded was titled AVG Security or Antivirus. I know there are valid AVG Security products, so I believe it was probably just using the name as a guise. I did not intentionally download it in any case. As I recall, it was popping up on searches and creating other problems. This was back in July, so I don't remember all of the issues, but it was an obvious problem immediately. I was able to get rid of it with Malwarebytes.
I also believe it was attached to one of the 2 downloads listed below on 7/20/2012. I believe these are PDF scanners, not cleaners as I thought earlier.

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I see a DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK for the first one.
Sep 26, 2012 8:05AM PDT
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IF the second is..
Sep 26, 2012 8:32AM PDT
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Thanks all...
Sep 26, 2012 9:30AM PDT

I have reported this to the team to look into.

Thanks for reporting it and providing the links.


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Update re: downloads
Sep 30, 2012 5:21AM PDT

I am pretty sure it was not SoftiScan, so I think it was probably the fastScan to PDF download. I still have the executables, if that would help anyone.

I still have AVG Secure Search on my PC. It is not listed in Programs, however. I will try another full scan with Malwarebytes, unless someone has a better recommendation to remove it.

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Removed AVG Secure Search
Oct 1, 2012 3:03AM PDT

I was finally able to remove AVG Secure Search via Tools / Internet Options / search defaults.

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Great! Thanks for letting us know..
Oct 1, 2012 9:07AM PDT


As far as AVG Secure Search is concerned....

Not too long ago, a member posted with a question regarding AVG Secure Search. I came upon this article, which included this screenshot. She was confused as to which type of installation to select, in addition to which option to choose. I can understand why.

Is it possible you experienced a similar situation, during the installation process? It doesn't really matter at this point, since you successfully removed it. I'm only pointing it out, in case it might have also applied to you.


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AVG Secure Search
Oct 1, 2012 12:56PM PDT

I did not download any AVG software intentionally. It is possible that I missed a checkbox that was alraedy checked somewhere, but if so, it was not very obvious. I also had a lot of difficulty removing the AVG software which seemed to pop up by iteself...without requiring a separate install. It acted like malware that was downloaded via a trojan or something similar, but I can't be sure.

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@ jfaulkenberry
Oct 2, 2012 2:35AM PDT
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Still happening
Jan 30, 2013 1:30PM PST

Lee- I don't know if you didn't have the time to bring this up to the download team or if they couldn't care less, but this is still happening. Just like another user described, I used the damned cnet download manager to download the application, but I ended up not installing it, so the only thing that I've installed is that cnet download manager. Just like many users, I made sure to uncheck all the add-on boxes (which mere presence is unworthy of cnet, by the way) and still I got this junkware.

Seriously?? Cnet of all sites is secretly pushing crapware? It's a bad joke.

I'm doing a system restore now, I will never use this shameful site again. I just honestly don't know where to turn to now because I've downloaded exclusively from cnet for too many years, but you guys just wiped your butts with our trust in your site.

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Coupon companion
Feb 8, 2013 3:40AM PST

After all these complaints you still haven't sorted out the issue? How do we get rid of it? I, like many others here, have always trusted CNET but not any more.

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Yeah!! You tell 'em!!!!
Nov 27, 2013 1:08AM PST

I've had the same problem too. I've had programs like TornTV and WebCake install themselves WITHOUT MY BLOODY PERMISSION!!!!!! My Norton 360 even classes entire programs, like Yontoo and WebCake, as security threats, and it's hardly surprising since they install without my permission from downloads from CNet!!!!

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Glad someone else noticed.
Nov 1, 2012 2:25PM PDT

This is extremely annoying to me. I'm a web developer and I downloaded a file manager from CNET while working. Then I noticed that the site I was working on had ads all over, I thought my client had been hacked (which would've been my fault).

I spent at least 30 VERY panic-filled minutes trying to locate the issue on the server. Turns out, the issue was on my PC, because the CNET downloaded forced the install of software I didn't ask for.

This is the LAST time I EVER use CNET for downloads. I COULD NOT be more angry right now.

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