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Boycott Softonic

Posted on April 16th, 2013 at 9:53 PM EST

warning

Just a few hours ago, I wrote about a VLC installer on Softonic that was installing adware. (Adware that was not authorized to be included with VLC, according to a post by Jean-Baptiste Kempf of VLC.) It has just come to my attention that the same thing is happening with UnRarX, and on downloading that software from Softonic, I verified that the installer behaves in the same way. It looks like Softonic is wrapping free software in a custom installer that installs adware, obviously to generate revenue for Softonic. I’m sure that the list of software being abused in this way will continue to grow over the next few days. This is despicable behavior, and I would ask everyone to boycott Softonic until they change their behavior.

Removal Instructions

To remove ChatZum, if you have installed it with something from Softonic, first open Safari’s preferences. In the General pane, change the Homepage setting to whatever page you want to use. Then go to the Extensions pane, select the ChatZum extension and click the Uninstall button. (If you use Firefox or Chrome, you will need to do the same thing there. Chrome’s extensions can be managed from the Extensions link on the settings page. Firefox extensions can be managed by going to Tools -> Add-ons, then selecting Extensions in the list.)

Once that is done, you need to manually delete a few files. First, open your applications folder and delete the following items:

ChatZumUninstaller.pkg

Next, choose Go -> Go to Folder in the Finder (or press command-shift-G) and enter “/Library” in the box (without the quotes), then click Go. In that folder, find and delete the following items:

Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins/SafariOmnibar.bundle
Internet Plug-Ins/uid.plist
Internet Plug-Ins/zako.plugin

After deleting these files, make sure to quit Safari and reopen it, otherwise the changes will not take effect immediately.

You will probably also want to remove SIMBL, which can cause problems, since it allows all manner of unexpected modifications to applications. If you did not have SIMBL installed already, and want to get rid of it, while still looking in the same Library folder as above, remove the following files:

Application Support/SIMBL/
LaunchAgents/net.culater.SIMBL.Agent.plist
ScriptingAdditions/SIMBL.osax

I would also recommend removing whatever app you installed from Softonic, as it is currently unknown whether those apps are the “real thing” or not.

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8 Comments

  • Enrique Dans says:

    This has been happening on Windows applications downloaded from Softonic for years.

  • Someone says:

    I download from two places: the App Store and the official developer website. Problem solved.

    • aalien says:

      Done.
      The answer it’s simple as that. Nothing else to be said.

      The rest it’s only middle man bull****!

  • Alex says:

    This is despicable of Softonic. I will be willing to join a class action lawsuit against them to stop these harmful business practices that would invade my computer with wasteful adware.

    Is ChatZum the only adware to look for on Macs so far or are there probably more we should be aware of? The fact I have to waste my time looking into this issue is enough for me to want to sue Softonic out of existence.

  • Greg says:

    The correct title for the article would be “Softsonic Delivers Trojan With Downloads”.

  • Joe Scholtz says:

    Once again, thanks for another amazing article!
    Two question though, are sites such as softpedia and macupdate the same?
    And since I have downloaded files from Softonic, is there more types of this junk that I should be removing?

    Thanks again

  • aalien says:

    If there is official websites and proper places to acquire things why this “middle man’s” keep appearing….??????

    • Someone says:

      Honestly. I think that some people may like a “one-stop shop” place to download stuff – they don’t want to go to three different websites to get software. IMHO, if you really are so lazy that you can’t go to multiple websites, then you deserve the consequences (and the crapware).

      Note that I’m not talking about people who only download from the Mac App Store. That’s different. Those people are most likely trying to avoid bad software by only downloading from the Apple-certified source.

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