CNET and Photo POS Pro Unwanted Extras

Have you ever been aggravated with free to use computer programs that install unwanted programs? Does your virus scanner pop up a warning that Photo POS Pro is a suspicious file or potential virus? The unwanted programs are often referred to as PUPs, or Potentially Unwanted Programs. They install with the program you want. Some installations permit you to reject the PUPs, while others do not. The PUPS are not necessarily malware, but they may be. Many are  just programs most find annoying. They are often adware that monitors your online activity to pop up ads while you are using your web browser.

I like using Photo POS Pro. It is a very powerful photo editing program that is available to use without paying money for it. However, I cannot justify updating it to its newest version due to issues of the extra unwanted programs, and that my Trend Micro Titanium virus scanner says the installation file is suspicious. I am not sure if it is CNET, Download.com or the company behind Photo POS Pro that is the problem.

The last version of Photo POS Pro I installed was downloaded from CNET. There was no notification that I could see that indicated that I would be installing extra programs. I did not notice that advertising programs were installed until my web browser started popping up ads. I checked the installed programs list on my computer and found, if I remember correctly, three programs I did not knowingly install. I contacted CNET never to receive an answer. CNET is owned by CBS Interactive, and they are a division of the CBS corporation. CNET is behind Download.com, which is where Photo POS Pro links you to for an updated version of the program.

The Photo POS Pro program I have installed notifies me an update is available every time I use it.  I figured I would see if I could update it without adding unwanted programs this time. Clicking on the update option from within the photo editor took me to Download.com.  The download link initiated download of an installer program that had to be run that permitted downloading the actual Photo POS Pro update I wanted to install.

Here is the first thing I saw when trying to install Photo POS Pro (Figure 1).

Figure 1
Figure 1

I clicked Accept.

This time the installation program actually showed me the extra programs that would be installed if I agreed to the defaults (Figure 2).

Figure 2
Figure 2

Clicking the radio button for “Custom Install” gives access to uncheck the boxes for the extra programs that would be installed (Figure 3).

Figure 3
Figure 3

You still have to uncheck each box before continuing (Figure 4). The extra programs were actually browser extensions from Spigot including Shopping Aid, New Tab Aid, Slick Savings, StartPage and  Ebay Assistant. In addition, the install program makes Yahoo the default search engine and start page in web browsers installed on the computer.

Plenty of so-called free programs will install potentially unwanted extras. Updating Adobe Flash comes with an offer for a free McAfee virus scan program. Java updates will add a toolbar to your browser and install the McAfee virus scanner unless you opt out. You can opt out of the extras with the Adobe updates to Flash too. However, you do need to read what is on the screen when clicking through to install the updates, or if you are downloading Flash or Java for the first time.

Figure 4
Figure 4

The next screen after clicking “Accept” in figure 4 brought me to more “optional” offers (Figure 5). In a normal installation procedure of a program or update, you click on “Accept” to move forward. Clicking on “Decline” would normally end the installation. However, in this case you have to click on “Decline” to not have the extra program installed.

Figure 5
Figure 5

After clicking to decline the extra program the installation of Photo POS Pro began (Figure 6).

Figure 6
Figure 6

The next screen showed that it actually was not installing Photo POS Pro. It was just downloading the installation program. I checked my “Downloads” folder on my hard drive and the downloader program and the installation file were present.

No big deal. A lot of software is downloaded and installed this way.However, does anyone even know what the downloader programs actually do? Do they just protect the download sites from exploitation? Unscrupulous people could just start their own download service website and link to programs on other servers if they knew the URLs. A downloader program can stop that. Still, I do wonder what all is done in the background while downloader software is running.

I decided to go ahead and click on “Install Now” to get the latest version of Photo POS Pro installed on my computer.

Figure 7
Figure 7

Then I got a warning pop up from the Trend Micro Titanium antivirus software on my computer (Figure 8). I tried searching in Google for more information. One website indicated for one version of Photo POS Pro that the file is not a virus just suspicious even though some antivirus programs were indicating otherwise. If you look at figure 8, you will see that the Trend Micro Titanium popup clearly declares that the “file contains malicious software.” The virus scanner reported that it automatically deleted the “malicious” file.

Figure 8
Figure 8

The bottom line is that Photo POS Pro is a wonderful program for editing photos, and it can be made to not trigger any antivirus software warnings. They could even keep the option available to install programs that most people would not want. That does not trigger antivirus programs for Adobe’s Flash or Oracle’s Java. Something is amiss either with the Photo POS Pro software itself or the methods Download.com uses. Until they fix it, I would suggest that no one install Photo POS Pro on their computer. I will update this If CNET or the people behind Photo POS Pro ever get back to me.

Takeaway Advice: Read every screen carefully when you install new software or updates to avoid PUPs. Also, make sure your computer has a quality antivirus scanner running that is always up to date with the latest virus definitions.