Free Software Infested With Spyware
Everyone in life likes to get something for free. When you’re online and you’re faced with paying lots of money for a piece of software and then you find a similar product for free, the natural instinct is to hit “download now” and think later. There are dangers in downloading free software though, and as an informed computer user and consumer, you should be aware of what you might be getting yourself in to.
First, let’s say this: giving out your information in exchange for a piece of free software isn’t always a bad idea. But some sites go way too far and entice you to register with the sole purpose of spamming you, or to load your computer up with spyware. The bottom line is this: with free software downloads, you can’t always be sure of that what you’re getting is safe and trustworthy.
Junkbusters is a consumer advocacy organization that fights hard to combat the rising amounts of junk on consumer computers. Their president, Jason Catlett, has this to say, “You could be paying hidden taxes on freeware…..there’s been a boom in spyware……any computer may have [more than one] spyware product on it.”
Downloading any free software obviously means taking a risk, but there are things that you can do before clicking “download now.” First, research before you download or install a free application; when in doubt, use Google to find the product and read up on it and research the vendor that makes the program. If you can’t find it on Google, or if it has a low page ranking, be cautious and trust your gut; skip the download if you think there’s a chance it’s questionable.
Second, be sure to watch out for the generic versions that typically make up free software. There are software developers out there who truly just want to wreak havoc on your life; in order to trick you, they will choose product names or web domain names close to those that are reputable and legitimate software companies.
It is human nature to trust those names that we are comfortable with and that we’re used to hearing. Double and triple check to make sure you’re getting the product you want. Less known programs that promise the world may be the work of spammers and/or spyware programmers. Again, Google it if you are unsure.
Registering sometimes makes sense if the software is really good, and has returned good reviews in your Google searches. However, before you register your information, consider who is getting your information. Small commercial software sites run by individuals deserve extra scrutiny. Keep in mind that you could get spammed and telemarketed to death in return for a lousy piece of free software. When in doubt, if you absolutely have to give a website and e-mail address before you can download something, put a free Web e-mail address in the form, not your home or work address.
Free software often seems like a good deal and an easy alternative to paying big bucks for pricey programs. Bear in mind that if you choose to opt for free software, you likely could end up with a computer full of spyware that will take hours, and possibly lots of money, to clean. Use Google to search all the free software that you are considering and download cautiously.