If you’re trigger happy and still turn to Cnet’s Download.com for software downloads, there’s a chance you might already have fallen victim to the new Download.com Installer. It’s Cnet’s newest way of turning a greener shade of evil. Cnet has just rolled out a download installer that will now serve as the portal to all Cnet downloads and the download comes bundled with the least amusing of all browser additions; a toolbar. If you hadn’t already found another software repository, this reason alone should be enough to make you want to look for better less sneaky side-door using alternatives.
The second you click on the little green download button next to any software, you’re prompted to save a file which users are likely to do, considering they clicked to download a file. Closer inspection will reveal that what you’ve downloaded is actually an installer for the Cnet downloader. Step 1 of the download tells you what you’re installing and how to proceed.
Proceeding to step 2; you can read their terms and conditions and learn about the Babylon toolbar you’ll be installing, making Babylon your default search engine and of course your home page. For the trigger happy or just those excited to get to downloading their software, this step might be glossed over in a frenzy to click ‘Next Step’ and before you know it, an annoying toolbar will have installed and your default search engine changed. Since the option to install the toolbar and to edit your search engine is checked by default, many users wont know what they’re doing until it is too late.
This is wrong on one major count; while Cnet is giving users the impression that they are securely downloading software, the fact is that there is no added security, just a way for Cnet to profit from your installation. This shady installer is being added to every software uploaded to the Cnet database.
The work around? There is none, the site has effectively put this installer between you and file downloads, so you can either install it very very carefully or it’s time to turn elsewhere for downloads. Of course if you do decide to install software that lets you opt-out instead of opting-in to downloading a little something extra, ask yourself what other evil might lurk beneath it.