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Author Topic: Article: Is AOL 9.0 Malware?  (Read 5844 times)


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Article: Is AOL 9.0 Malware?
« on: August 29, 2006, 07:32 PM »
August has been a bad month for AOL. The month started with the company posting search histories for over 600,000 of its subscribers. AOL then pulled down the data, apologized, and sacked the people responsible. Now, the latest version of its Internet client software, AOL 9.0, has come under fire from
AOL 9.0 currently sits in's "Open Inquiries" section. The advocacy group advises against installing the software because of what it describes as deceptive installation practices, making changes to other software without the user's permission, and failure to uninstall completely.

During the installation process, AOL 9.0 adds the AOL toolbar to Internet Explorer and the AOL Deskbar to the user's taskbar, two practices finds unacceptable. It also installs a number of additional programs such as QuickTime and RealPlayer without fully disclosing the installation to the user.


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Re: Article: Is AOL 9.0 Malware?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2006, 08:42 PM »
It really makes me wonder... Sure it could be just a bad oversight on their part, but then again, it could be bean counters responsible for that as well. It's not uncommon for companies to produce absolute garbage software as a part of a marketing campaign or as a part of product support. All too often the software is substandard or just rushed.

Since AOL is kind of hurting, it wouldn't surprise me if it was entirely intentional (the license stuff), except for the uninstall part - that software just ran but did nothing once uninstalled - sounds like poor quality control there.

I don't know if I'd call it malware - that's a bit strong. Perhaps shitware though?  ;)


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Re: Article: Is AOL 9.0 Malware?
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2006, 08:52 AM »
What comes with AOL when you install it?

  • Viewpoint Media Player (used for the AOL desktop background)
  • Winamp, Quicktime, Real Player (used for the AOL media player)
  • Java, Flash player plugin, Adobe Acrobat Reader (to enable your browser to use that content)
  • A spyware detector & remover that performs a quick scan every time you open AOL. (lots of false positives and doesn't detect the real spyware)
  • Port Magic (I can't remember the purpose of this)
  • AOL Coach (I don't remember what this is)
  • One Click Fix (a bunch of tools for correcting problems that they are tired of getting tech support calls for)
  • Top Speed (supposed to make browsing on dialup faster but it really doesn't)
  • AOL Toolbar for IE (one of the best popup blockers on the planet)
  • AOL Uninstaller (this search for and remove aol software not listed in add/remove programs)
  • AOL Disk Cleanup (removes old un-needed outdated aol files & programs)
  • ACSD (the dialer that was my entire reason for installing all this crap)

Some of these may be mentioned briefly or hinted at during setup, but not in a way that gives you a choice to install these things...more of an ad-like presentation to watch while the install is in progress.

Some versions come with some or all of the following additional optional crap:

  • AIM instant messenger (if installed from a CD)
  • ICQ (if installed from a CD)
  • Compuserve (Why you would need this if AOL is your ISP is beyond me)(if installed from a CD)
  • AOL Communicator
  • Spinner (if installed from a CD)
  • A photo screensaver
  • an rss feed reader screensaver
  • Plaxo toolbar for Outlook & Outlook Express
  • a desktop pet that reads your email to you
  • If no firewall is detected on your system, you will be offered one for free. (McAfee)
  • If no antivirus is detected, you will be offered one for free. (McAfee)
  • AOL Explorer (their new stand alone browser)

And all of this doesn't count the additional 3rd party stuff the AOL power user adds on, like Ad Buster, Power Tools, Wavman, BuddyPlus, Terminator, Wallpaper, IMs Plus, Fade-It, JonPlug, AMpad, and tons more.


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Re: Article: Is AOL 9.0 Malware?
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2006, 10:49 PM »
Well, AnusOnLine IS malware, any time, any place - I would never argue with that!
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