Tech & Work

AOL badged as

Badware -> Malware:

“software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system, without the

owner's informed consent.”

Stopbadware.org describes itself as ‘a "Neighborhood

Watch" campaign aimed at fighting badware’—with support from industry

leaders such as Google, Sun and Lenovo stopbadware.org report on software which

misrepresents itself or has malicious intent.

AOL has suffered a major blow as stopbadware.org released preliminary

findings

on their investigation of AOL 9.0; AOL have been struggling of

late, their subscriber figures dropped by 3.1 million over the past year—last week

three top executives left the company following the disclosure of over

2 million search queries.  The report

finds many issues with AOL:
  • Installs additional software without disclosure

AOL Software is bundled with a number of additional applications,

including RealPlayer, QuickTime, AOL You've Got Pictures Screensaver, Pure

Networks Port Magic, and Viewpoint Media Player. During the installation

process the user is never clearly notified that AOL will be installing these

programs.

  • Adds AOL toolbar in Internet Explorer
  • Updates software automatically
  • Fails to uninstall software completely

After uninstalling AOL and all of its bundled components using

Add/Remove Programs, at least two AOL processes continue to run:

AOLServiceHost.exe and AOLHostManager.exe. It is unacceptable for AOL processes

to continue to run after AOL has been uninstalled by the user.

AOL have said that they are reviewing the points raised in

this report.  They also say that “a

design flaw in the uninstaller mistakenly leaves executables running, even

after a restart” and they are looking in to a fix.  How reassuring.  I suppose many people automatically assume that

they can trust large firms like AOL—this just goes to show that you can’t be

too careful!

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