Download.com

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Download.com
Download.com logo.png
Web addressDownload.cnet.com
Commercial?Yes
Type of siteDownloads
RegistrationOptional
OwnerCBS Interactive
Created byCNET Networks, Inc.
Alexa ranknegative increase 12,448 (April 2014)[1]
Current statusActive
 
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Download.com
Download.com logo.png
Web addressDownload.cnet.com
Commercial?Yes
Type of siteDownloads
RegistrationOptional
OwnerCBS Interactive
Created byCNET Networks, Inc.
Alexa ranknegative increase 12,448 (April 2014)[1]
Current statusActive

Download.com is an Internet download directory website launched in 1996 as a part of CNET and knowingly disseminates adware/malware to both Windows and Mac operating systems. Originally, the domain was download.com.com and is now download.cnet.com. The domain download.com attracted at least 113 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study.[2]

Overview[edit]

Download.cnet.com offers content in four major categories: software (including Windows, Mac and mobile), music, games, and videos, offered for download via FTP from Download.com's servers or third-party servers. Videos are streams (at present) and music was all free MP3 downloads, or occasionally rights-managed WMAs or streams until it was replaced with last.fm.

The Software section includes over 100,000 freeware, shareware, and try-first downloads. Downloads are often rated and reviewed by editors and contain a summary of the file from the software publisher. Registered users may also write reviews and rate the product. Software publishers are permitted to distribute their titles via CNET's Upload.com site for free, or for a fee structure that offers enhancements.

In 2004, Download.com Music was launched to replace the defunct MP3.com. One may download music in a variety of genres for free from this area of the site, and the artists range from amateurs to professionals. Artists may upload their information and songs to the site for free. All submissions go through a review process. On March 11, 2009, the music section was replaced with Last.fm.

In July 2005, Download.com Video was launched with streaming video content in a variety of genres (movies and TV, sports, animation, music videos, etc.). Download.com plans to offer downloadable videos in future.

Adware[edit]

See also: CNET § Adware

Beginning in August 2011, download.com changed their own installer to add adware to the software that users wish to download.[3][4][5] Accusations have included the surreptitious installation of a trojan installer[6] and a browser hijacker.[7] In fact, CNET admits in their download FAQ that "a small number of security publishers have flagged the Installer as adware or a potentially unwanted application".[8]

In August 2011, Download.com introduced an installation manager called CNET TechTracker for delivering many of the software titles from its catalog.[9] The installation manager offers to install add-ons like browser toolbars and change default homepages before downloading the software the user wants. Users registered with Download.com can access files either with the Download.com installer or directly via "Download Direct Links".

In December 2011, Fyodor of insecure.org published his strong dislike[10] of the installation manager and concerns over the bundled software, causing many people to spread the post on social networks, and a few dozen media reports. The main problem is the confusion between Download.com-offered content[11][12] and software offered by original authors; the accusations included deception as well as copyright and trademark violation.[12]

Spigot[edit]

CNet uses Spigot to monetize the traffic to download.com. According to Sean Murphy, a General Manager at CNet, "Spigot continues to be a great partner to Download.com, sharing our desire to balance customer experience with revenue." [13]

Security Vulnerabilities in foistware[edit]

In 2014, The Register and US-CERT warned that via download.com's foistware, an "attacker may be able to download and execute arbitrary code". [14]

References[edit]