What security software can stop the stealth installation of junk software?

edyshor March 11, 2013

I know that Comodo Firewall used to have this functionality, take PicPick installer for example, whenever I run it the Comodo Firewall program (free version) would tell me that the setup tries to run “askcom_installer.exe” (or similar) and it would give me the option to deny the execution of said program, but the setup program would run ok without a problem.

An entire firewall program is overkill for me just for this functionality, so do you know of software that does the same thing?

Looking forward to your suggestions :)

  1. Dalsan M
    September 4, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I just found out about a new software called Anti-Toolbar (though it is still in beta stages). http://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/antitoolbar.html This sounds like it fits your wants and needs.

  2. edyshor
    March 19, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    PicPick was just an example, there's a load of software that do this;
    I've read what it writes on PicPick's download page but even in this case i'm expected to at least be notified at install time what other junk i get by installing PicPick instead of finding some unremovable hijacking extension in my Chrome (that's right, Google Chrome) that i can't figure out how it get there;

    (first time i've seen an unremovable, un-disableable extension in Goolge Crome; i'm really disappointed; Google, that's not a feature, that's a BUG!)

    Comodo was great while i was using it, but it was getting to much of a resource hog for my previous system and its warnings and notifications (or lack of) would get annoying at times so i decided to put it on hold and stick with windows's firewall.
    Its been a couple of years since then and i got myself a more powerful system now, maybe i'll install it again, if only for this kind 'hidden installs' issue, that is, of course, if they haven't removed it :)

    However, my question isn't about this - morally gray - practice that some freeware software developers use to monetize their work (which is their right and some really deserve it), but its about a software that can monitor the installation process and raise an alarm when the monitored installation process is launching another installation (for another software then the one you're installing);

    This software should at least notify you when that happens, but it would be really great if it would ask you to confirm the second (embedded) installation;
    Comodo's firewall software does (or did) this with the Defense+ module i think;
    PicPick is a recent software that i've installed and it installed some crappy toolbar without even telling me about it..

    Thank your for your answers and your opinions on the matter.

  3. dragonmouth
    March 19, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    "An entire firewall program is overkill for me just for this functionality, so do you know of software that does the same thing?"

    A firewall, especially Comodo, can prevent many more problems than just "piggy back installs". If you get rid of Comodo, you will open yourself to a host of malwares. But being a power user, I assume you know what you are doing.

    The download page for PicPick specifically states that "Freeware version may include third-party (sponsored) advertisements." I guess you must not have noticed that warning.

  4. Maxi3w
    March 18, 2013 at 1:03 am

    See, I go with Alan Wade and muotechguy on this because even download.com by Cnet goes through many 'accept/decline', 'express/custom/advanced installations' pages before you get to installing the actual software that you asked for and it really is a case of being very thorough and reading every step very carefully. We've all made this mistake at some point. If the software is from a reputable source then these 'options' will be there to get them or not. You have to be very dilligent. If accidently or intentionally by the software does install an unwanted item, then why not use an Uninstaller program like Revo or i0bits to thoroughly get rid of it? I think it would be near impossible to get a software/firewall that would be able to detect every 'extra' you don't want.

  5. Alan Wade
    March 11, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    The biggest issue with installed 'piggy backed' software or software that installs itself when you install something else is the user's inability to read just what is actually being installed.
    Nearly all programs and apps that have other apps piggy-backed with them do this to help financially support the orginal program but the more reputable vendors offer the choice to not install it. It usually means unchecking a box.

    If by chance you are referring to software when downloading from un-desirable sites, then MUOtechGuy has it nailed.

    • edyshor
      March 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      Well one software for example is PicPick that you can find&download on download.com;
      I've had mixed experience with it, sometimes i can un-check the "piggy-backed" software, sometimes its a different "friend" and sometimes it doesn't even tell me that it installs other stuff; Actually a couple of years back it was Comodo's Defence+ module that told me PicPick was trying to install something else beside itself while the installer said nothing about it;
      Since i don't need/want the entire functionality of Comodo's excellent product i hoped someone has created a software to do 'just this part' :)
      I'll try the suggestions that DalSan Mack provided as so far i'm using AppLocket to block Ask.com :(

      Btw, muotechguy, thanks, but i think of myself as a poweruser, as in i know what i'm doing, in fact me being on MUO and asking a question like that should be proof enough, and anyway that is not an answer for my question especially since the practice became so annoyingly common that basically you can't install today's freewares without running into this, and even if the 'stealth install - a.k.a. no checkbox' practice is rare its still out there .. :(

    • DalSan Mack
      March 12, 2013 at 7:11 am

      For the past couple of years I have stayed away from CNet's Download.com for that very reason. I mostly go to http://www.majorgeeks.com for many of my downloads, or try to find other outlets to download software. Major Geeks personally test each software they have on their site to make sure that they are good and clean. If there are any piggy-back installers, then Major Geeks will state that there is to help you keep an eye out for it.

    • Yudono Amiharto
      March 12, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      well i have experienced the same situation here, and i'm not the type of user who just bluntly click "instal/yes.. yes yes. ok"
      but it's a fact that (some) legitimate/well known software do this piggyback things and "Still" installed the stealthware eventough i've already un tick that options.

      now i just choose to download my software from freewarefiles.com or softpedia (it's a similar site like majorgeeks), eventough it's the same software at least they've checked the software before and warned if there any "unwanted/naggy" feature

      ps: this is my experience from downloading "comodo firewall free" straight from their official website (i'v got some random toolbar, eventough i've already un-tick their free offer).
      and yeah don't download from cnet download, if you don't want their "extra" feature ;)

    • edyshor
      March 12, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Unfortunately the software that DalSan Mack suggested don't do what i want (some toolbar went by them and installed) so i'll keep searching an d if not i'll try to see if comodo still has this feature in their product (it wouldn't be the first time that some amazingly cool feature was silently removed from a freeware) and i'll keep searching;

      I know about those sites, but still download.com's repository is the biggest and most up to date i know and i use it from convenience :)
      If you're logged into your account they give you the link to the original software below the green button;

    • DalSan M
      March 13, 2013 at 8:25 am

      Sorry it didn't work out for you. I will keep an eye out for anything else that may work, but if you do find what you are looking for, please share with with us. This would be great to install on computers whose users do not pay attention to what is being installed (I know way too many that do this).

    • edyshor
      March 13, 2013 at 9:21 am

      will do :)

    • Peter Mann
      March 15, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      These days on the net you really need a good reliable security suite. I have used Kaspersky Internet Security for the last few years and I recommend it to all my friends. it is reasonably priced and is very effective.
      For freeware go to http://www.snapfiles.com/ or the Major Geeks site as suggested above. They usually warn you about piggy back software.

  6. muotechguy
    March 11, 2013 at 9:01 am

    To be brutally honest, this sounds it would be more easily solved by addressing the user problem: stop installing random software that you can't verify the source for, and read the install apps clearly so you can de-select any added toolbars and such. Good apps from trusted developers don't install malware.

    • Oron Joffe
      March 11, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      Actually, many legimate applications, such as Adobe Reader and Java nowadays "bring a friend" with them in the form of a toolbar or nuisance software of the sort edyshor mentions.

  7. edyshor
    March 11, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Well, its not that i want to prevent someone to install stuff, more like that i want to be made aware and asked for confirmation when an installer (that i run) decides to install something else (like ask.com and other junk);
    I don't know how comodo's Defense+ worked but i think it monitored the installation process to see when it wants to start a new installer or run another exe;
    When i agreed i simply press 'Allow' and when i didn't i choose 'Deny' just as simple as that;

    Hopefully one of the two solution you proposed would do the same :)

    Just to clear things up. i need this for installers that don't ask me to accept the installation of junkware (like ask.com) i really hate those :(

  8. DalSan Mack
    March 11, 2013 at 7:41 am

    There are a couple options you can try. Either use WinPatrol, which may be overkill with all of the other features as it is a good preventative security software, but also may not always prevent installations and instead alert you after installation. Or, try InstallGuard, which will stop any installations until you enter a password, but is annoying and a hassle each time you wish to install any software.



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