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Why You Should Read the Fine Print Before Downloading Adware

Has this ever happened to you? You come across a free app online that seems interesting, entertaining, or helpful so you decide to download it? However, as soon as you click the download button you regret it as it begins to install browser toolbars, adware, and other annoying (and potentially dangerous) software onto your device? How can you keep this “crapware” from getting too out of hand, and why is it so popular in the first place?

This kind of unwanted software usually populates on the user’s device after the fact, only making itself known once the user has installed their desired software, and accepted the terms of service. If you look closely at what you’re downloading, you might see a checkbox that says “Install (some unknown software or toolbar).” The employee in-the-know might choose to uncheck the box, but there are others who are so eager to get to their new software, that they forsake reading over the terms and services altogether, not caring what they’re agreeing to. This is how crapware tends to spread.

Furthermore, many of these programs are created with the intention of turning a profit. When these pieces of software are bundled with others, and unknowingly downloaded, the developer can claim as much as $150 per install. The worst part about this is that the developers aren’t doing anything wrong. Since the user is “agreeing” to download the program, there’s nothing that can be done. While this might be a questionable practice, there’s no denying that it’s quite lucrative, all at the expense of the user.

ZDNet reports that Google issues over 60 million warnings every week that keep users from installing dangerous software. Google claims that it issues at least three times more unwanted software warnings than malware warnings, which makes this a concerning problem indeed. ZDNet cites a study designed to get to the bottom of these software “bundles” and better understand them, where it was “found that 59 percent of bundles are flagged by at least one antivirus engine as potentially unwanted, and that some packages are built not to install when the presence of antivirus has been detected.”

In fact, some of the adware installed might be designed to display what appear to be scam alerts, warning users to call a number to resolve a problem that’s not even an issue. You might see this when you’re using Google Chrome and a “system alert” pops up, demanding that you take action before it’s too late. These types of scams are somewhat similar to ransomware, as they take advantage of raw, unhinged fear to get a desired outcome.

How does your business protect itself from viruses, malware, spyware, adware, and other types of online threats? You need to take a multi-faceted approach to network security if you want to keep your business safe. This includes a content filter, spam blocker, firewall, and antivirus solution, which are all optimized to keep potential threats out of your infrastructure. These are collectively referred to as a Unified Threat Management (UTM) solution.

To learn more, reach out to SemTech IT Solutions at 407-830-1434.


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