Watch Out For “Good” Download Sites

CNET, who hosts, has enjoyed a reputation for being a safe place to download software from. The program you download may be great or may be useless, but it had been “Tested Spyware Free.” At least that is what says about their downloads.

Today it has come to my attention that the site is hosting two notorious spyware/adware programs. One of the programs is called “Anti-spyware 2008” and the other is called “Anti-virus Defender 1.01”

According to these programs have been tested free of spyware, viruses, and other malware. Unfortunately, many security products have a very different opinion. These fake security products will infect your computer, rather than protect your computer.

As always, do some research before deciding on a security product to evaluate. For anti-virus/anti-spyware look for testing at Virus Bulletin (, and/or certification at West Coast Labs ( and ICSA Labs ( For West Coast Labs you’ll want to look at the Checkmark Certification tab. Virus Bulletin does not test anti-spyware, however both the ICSA and West Coast (Checkmark) certify products for spyware detection and removal.

It is not clear at this time if CNET’s was hacked, or the malicious software found its way there by other means. Certainly a label “Spyware free” should be viewed with a high degree of skepticism. Any one can say it.

Randy Abrams
Director of Technical Education

Author , ESET

  • Justin

    My parent’s computer was recently infected with the blight that is “Anti-spyware 2008.” My good-intentioned brother installed this (and paid nearly $100!) after seeing a fake virus warning and was directed to this site. After trying a number of uninstallers and virus-removal apps, I ended up wiping the disk and starting over. Nasty stuff, and very difficult for the typical user to get rid of. Scary that CNET, a relatively trusted presence, is hosting these apps.

  • nka

    I hope that you all have contacted CNET and made them aware of this issue. What a shame for

  • Randy Abrams

    CNET was contacted prior to the blog post and they removed the offending files that were reported to them in a very timely manner.

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