Downloading Open Source Software? Watch Out For The Crapware… [News]

If you’re a regular here at MakeUseOf you’ll know we have a penchant for exploring quality, free open source software. Today we’re highlighting the importance of downloading these gems from the official software source, especially if you’re using a search engine to hunt for your download.

Sponsored listings that nearly always appear above the top search result can often point to unofficial sources that bundle harmful software (crapware, malware; call it what you like) along with the installer. This can occur before you’ve downloaded your chosen program, as part of an “updater” or browser toolbar which installs first.

In some cases these websites may even ask for payment, yet the software you ultimately download has already been released under a free license.

Tech site How-To Geek isolated a number of affected free programs that when searched for in major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo reveal sponsored listings that could potentially harm your PC should you download the software.

These include (but were not limited to):

Ads by Google

  • VLC Media Player (videolan.org/vlc)
  • Audacity (audacity.sourceforge.net)
  • GIMP (gimp.org)
  • MPlayer (mplayerhq.hu)
  • 7-Zip (7-zip.org)
  • CCleaner (piriform.com/ccleaner)

The official links to these projects have been included, so if you’re downloading any of these open source programs, ensure you’re not getting it from sponsored search results. Other software may also yield similar results, so it’s up to you to spot the fakes.

If you think you might have fallen foul to one of these scams then you can always scan your PC online or with one of our recommended security tools. If you have any cohorts who lack your expertise in technical capacity, be a good internet friend and let them know.

Read: Important Warning: Be Careful Downloading Open Source Apps via Search @ How-To Geek

Have you encountered any of these sites? Fallen foul? Does it get you mad? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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