Sunday, June 13, 2010

Adobe and McAfee are installing malware

The Adobe update to my computer installed malware on my system.

A few days after I did a regular Microsoft security update, a dialog box popped up to tell me that "the security update" had installed McAfee Security Scan Plus which would do a "security scan" of my computer. I thought, "Really? Microsoft is giving away a free McAfee virus scanner with updates? That's a pretty impressive addition to the operating system."

It wasn't a virus scanner. Security Scan Plus is a malware program that checks if you have the entire McAfee security suite installed. If you don't then it gives you a big scary warning message "COMPUTER AT RISK" and tells you to fix it right away. I didn't push the button that said I want to "fix" my non-existent security problem, but I'll bet that if I had, it would have sent me to the McAfee sales web site. This program is malware because it is of zero value for the customer; it is nothing but an advertisement for McAfee.

I was pretty angry that Microsoft had installed this malware on my system as part of a security update, but apparently, it wasn't Microsoft. Just before I did the Microsoft update, I did an update to Firefox, and the Firefox update recommend I do an Adobe update. So I did. According to this web page, there was a check box in the Adobe update that installed the McAfee malware. It must have been checked by default, because I did not chose to install it.

So here's the scoop: Adobe and McAfee are installing malware as part of an Adobe "update". I wonder how much Adobe was paid to risk their corporate reputation on this. I also wonder why a security company like McAfee is willing to advertise via malware. They have to know that a lot of security-conscious people will never use their software again. I know I won't.

I also would like to say that I'll stop using Adobe products, but I already avoid them as much as possible because they have have a history of disrespecting their customers. McAfee didn't have that reputation before, but they will now.


Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Yes, it is auto-checked. And a booger to get rid of.

Humblopinions said...

Your blog post, and in particular the headline, is extremely misleading--and bordering on slander. You clearly have some catching up to do when it comes to the right terminology in the security world. You are linking to an article on and to the Wikipedia definition of "malware"--neither of which you seem to understand. To quote Wikipedia, "Malware, short for malicious software, is software designed to infiltrate a computer system without the owner's informed consent." If you read the article carefully, you will notice that this description does not apply in this case. Yes, the author concludes that he would classify the McAfee software as "adware"--everyone is entitled to his opinion. However, nowhere does he talk about "malware" (or "DISHONEST adware," which is included in the definition of malware). Plus, you actually DID give your consent to install the software. A word to the wise: Read what you sign!

You, too, are entitled to your opinion--but realize that your statement about McAfee and Adobe installing malware on your computer is 100% incorrect.

Doc Rampage said...

Thanks for the comment, Humbl, but I don't agree that my post is misleading or that I misunderstand anything. I think I'll do a new post answering your comment.

Doc Rampage said...

Foxfier, are you saying that just uninstalling it will not do the trick? I'm going to see this pop up again?

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

When I went to uninstall, it said it couldn't do it with the program running. Ctl-alt-del, won't let me kill it. Ended up deleting the folder, so that enough went away that it wouldn't run on start-up, and then uninstalled.

It's exactly like antivirus...except it only asks you to spend money, and you didn't ask for it.

Plainswell said...

It has an uninstaller. It went away without complaint. Shouldn't have been pushed in the first place though.

Anonymous said...

Any computer program which turns the functionality of your computer against you is malware (another case in point: The Sony XCP rootkit virus).

And as far as I can see, any software which induces you, through rather shady methods, to buy something of dubious value qualifies as malware.

Every machine I've ever seen with the McAfee security suite installed on works noticeably slower and more erratically than it would otherwise.

Adobe is greedy. McAfee is desperate. The result is a major setback for trust on the web.

Anonymous said...

adobe has gone too far this time. fuck them

Anonymous said...

ownosad"I also would like to say that I'll stop using Adobe products, but I already avoid them as much as possible because they have have a history of disrespecting their customers. McAfee didn't have that reputation before, but they will now."

Same here. Bundle up your cr@pware downloads for people that you no longer want to do business with.

The first time you bite me with malware is the last time you will ever see me.

Isn't it like 2012 or something?
This stuff was old in '95!

Anonymous said...

i have mcafee security plus malware. i will never ever buy mc afee ever . they are NOW A COMPANY IN THE GUTTER AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED AND I SAY BOYCOTT MCAFEE