Do you remember the good ol' times when security vendors used to sell you exactly what you asked for? When you wanted to buy an antivirus or a security suite, the vendor would sell you exactly that: an antivirus or a security suite. But times have changed and more and more companies don't do that anymore. Instead, they charge you for the product you buy, but they also make money off you by bundling all kinds of bloatware that you don't need or want. Unfortunately, this has become a common practice on the security market and fewer companies still do things the old way. Today, we're going to show you some of the most common annoying practices among security vendors:
1. Changing your web browser's homepage
Many security companies choose to do this, even if you buy their commercial products. If you don't pay attention during the installation process, you might end up with a brand new homepage set for some or all of your web browsers. You might wonder why they would do that. The answer is simple: by changing your homepage to one that the company wants, it will be able to fill your browser's homepage with ads. Clicking these ads brings more money to the security company that sold you their product in the first place.
Here are just a few examples of commercial security solutions that try to change your homepage:
- Panda Global Protection 2016 - attempts to change your homepage to a webpage called MyStart , a rebranded Yahoo! homepage.
- AVG Internet Security 2016 - tries to change your homepage to their own AVG Secure Search .
2. Changing your web browser’s default search engine
Much like the practice of changing your web browser's homepage, some companies also try to change your default search provider. The reason? By handling search results for you, these companies can include their own partners or their own ads in the list of search results. Seeing what they want you to see means, of course, more money for them. This is one of the worst practices a security company could choose to use: not only that you get unwanted results, but you will also get worse results than you would get from a good search engine. Long story short, the search results you get on well known search engines like Google or Bing are surely better than the ones you get from the ill famed Ask, for example.
To give you a few such examples, look at:
- Avira Internet Security Suite 2016 tries to convince you into installing a free web browser extension called Avira SafeSearch Plus or Avira Browser Safety . As you can find out from our review, Avira’s add-on will change your search engine and it will give you search results and will fill your web browser with “amazing deals” from the shady Ask.com service.
- Panda Global Protection 2016 attempts to change your default search provider to Yahoo!.
- AVG Internet Security 2016 tries to change your default search engine to AVG Secure Search by Ask .
3. Installing unwanted, useless toolbars
Another bad practice of some security vendors is to bundle unwanted or unneeded toolbars. They usually install the sleazy Ask toolbar, but under a different name. We regret having to repeat this, but it's the same story all over again: you should really pay attention to all the options you choose during the installation process of any software. Some companies don't tell you up front that you're going to get yourself some useless toolbars. Moreover, these kinds of toolbars don't enhance your security, they only slow down your web browsing experience.
Here are some security solutions that bundle toolbars you may not want on your system:
- Panda Global Protection 2016 - bundles a toolbar called Panda Security Toolbar that promises protection against malicious websites, but is in fact only a rebranded Dynamic Toolbar from a company named Visicom Media . As you can check in ou r review , this toolbar is not useful. Installing and keeping it only slows down your web browser and puts your privacy at risk.
- Avast! Premier 2016 - recommends that you install the Google Toolbar . While some users may find it useful, others may not want it. Why would a commercial security product bundle a toolbar that has nothing to do with your security?
- AVG Internet Security 2016 - installs a toolbar called AVG SafeGuard by Ask . At least now, in 2016, AVG openly admits that their “safe” toolbar is powered by Ask.com. In 2015 they tried to hide it, but we could make your own deductions from this web page: Uninstall Web TuneUp, AVG Toolbar, home page and Secure Search from your browser.
- Norton Security Premium 2016 - offers you Norton Security Toolbar which, when we reviewed this product, didn't do much, or better said it did nothing to secure you. Even more, while researching on Wikipedia we found out that the Norton Toolbar might be just another rebranded Ask toolbar : Criticism of Ask toolbar.
4. Changing your web browser completely
Yes, there are security vendors that try that too… When installing unwanted and unnecessary toolbars, and when changing your homepage or your search engines is simply not enough, some security vendors go even further and decide to make you completely change your default web browser to one that they designed. This wouldn’t be a problem if that web browser was a browser that enhances your security.
Such is the example of Comodo, which in Comodo Internet Security Complete 8 , tries to go all the way in making you use Chromodo , a web browser that this security company has designed.
Comodo promises you that their web browser will make you more secure and that it will take care of your online experience. But hey… did you know that Google, yes… Google publicly shamed Chromodo for being not even remotely safe to use ?
5 . Bundling crapware software
Some security vendors bundle with their security solutions so called "additional features/tools". Software that, in theory, should bring additional value to their customers. They include things like free cloud storage space that isn't quite free, apps that clone features and tools which are already available in Windows and so on. Encountering a security solution that doesn't bundle useless "additional features" is rare. Many security companies focus more on bundling such "features" than focusing on improving their main products, like the antivirus engine or the firewall module.
Here are some examples of what we'd rather not see in a security suite that we payed for:
- Cloud storage - this is free only if you are satisfied with low amounts of storage space. Most security suites offer around 2GB of space. If you want more, you have to pay. Plus, these services don't have apps for all mobile platforms and they are not as flexible as other specialized products. Why bother offering this? There are cloud services that offer 5, 10, 15GB or more for free, with no questions asked. Just look at OneDrive, Google Drive or Mega. Plus, those services work very well and offer apps for all platforms.
- Tools for cleaning your registry, checking for broken shortcuts, removing temporary files, defragmenting disks etc. - almost every security suite offers to take care of cleaning and maintaining your computer. But hey, we don't need that. Modern versions of Windows do that automatically or include the tools you need for these tasks. We don't need another copycat that does the same thing.
- Third party tools, recommended by security suites - some companies also try to convince you that certain services provided by their partners are good for you and that they can increase your security. Why would you trust a company that tells you: "There is a product out there that can protect you. You can install it, but you'll have to pay."? We wouldn't trust it. We already paid for a complete security solution from you. We don't want to buy anything else! Why do you want to shove more commercial products down our throats?
- Windows patching tools - some security suites can check if there are any missing updates for your Windows operating system and for third party apps installed on your computer. We agree with checking for updates for third party apps, but we don't need the security suite to check for Windows updates. Windows itself does that automatically.
- Very old or outdated software - there are some companies that bundle additional software tools that were developed in "300 BC". They have no meaningful use in today's world. However, they still bundle them, probably just for marketing or for pretending they offer "complete" security products. We don't consider this a good approach: we'd rather see 2 or 3 well developed tools being bundled, instead of 20 useless ones.
As you can see from this article, many security companies are no longer satisfied with making money only by selling their products and they turn to all kinds of shady practices that have nothing to do with improving the security of their users. Before you close this article, we would like you to share your opinion and experience with all kinds of security products. Use the comments form below and share your feedback.