Given the high rates of viruses and malware, there’s always that moment of hesitation with your mouse’s cursor poised over the “install” button on your screen, and a new study from Google shows you have plenty of reason to think twice before downloading. The sheer amount of “unwanted software,” or what the Google team affectionately refers to as “ooze” for the sound of the UwS acronym, is the subject of the company’s latest report to Forbes magazine.
On the more mundane end of the UwS scale, it can be anything from a new toolbar that you didn’t want to install to having your default search engine or browser changed without really knowing you were doing it. It’s annoying, of course, but not irreversible and not the end of the world for your computer. But when malicious software developers jump in the fray, your simple download of a new title can actually be bundled with tech-destruction like adware, tracking software, and viruses.
The report highlights the fact that a lot of the bundled ooze clogs your computer via “express installation” settings, meaning you’re not going to see what else gets loaded on your hard drive during the process. And this type of tactic is actually really big business for the developers behind it; even the most innocuous of bundled UwS can net its creators hundreds of millions of dollars a year under the so-called “pay per install” model. For every deceptive installation behind the user’s back, the company tallies another sale.
Given that Google’s study found that internet users are confronted by about 60 million UwS attempts each week, it might seem impossible to avoid it. Until such time as the industry takes Google up on its offer to finally put an end to it, the company recommends avoiding express installation or automatic downloads in order to actually see what titles are bundled with your software or update.