Thoughts, information and reflections about technology

Warning on SourceForge downloads from Howtogeek (updated).

(Update 2019) A popular site that hosted downloads for freeware and open source software was distributing crapware and malware with the applications. The site had been sold and has stopped the practice of pushing sketchy apps. 

Original article from 2015

HowtoGeek just published a warning about SourceForge bundling crapware with downloads.

The freeware/trialware environment has changed radically for the worse over the last few years. What was once a place where you could download legitimate free applications has changed. You can download applications, but if you aren’t extremely careful, the application will be bundled with a bunch of malware / crapware that will create havoc with your machine.

When you do have to download:

  • Make sure you are using the correct download button. It isn’t uncommon to see 3 or 4 ‘Download’ buttons on a screen. All but one of them will lead you to crapware.
  • Read every screen. The installers will do just about everything they can to try to trick you into including their bundled crapware. One trick is that you have to click on a tiny checkbox in order to be able to opt out of the crapware.
  • Go to the software publisher’s site before going to a download site. For example, if you are searching for Gimp image software, go to the official Gimp site and follow the download links from there.
In addition to what the article stated, I am very leery about updating any freeware. I have one particular freeware application that I use on  a daily basis. It has been pestering me for a while to update to the latest version. I’ve been ignoring the notices until I have time to thoroughly check it out to make sure that the update doesn’t bundle crapware.
For more information, see the HowtoGeek article.

Update Oct 2019

Every application that you load on your phone, add to your website or install on your computer or server is a potential threat. The problem is that if you install nothing, you lose potential productivity.

You can take a couple of steps to protect yourself:

  • Use reputable sites for software.
  • Make sure your operating systems or web platforms are up to date.
  • Run antivirus/anti malware applications.
  • If you are running a platform such as WordPress, consider adding protection with an application such as WordFence.

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