Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - Almanac Vol. 52, No. 18
Beware of Dangerous Free Software
What you see isn’t always what you get. Recently, dangerous programs have been widely distributed in the form of free Internet accelerator tools and search engine toolbar plug-ins. One example is MarketScore, which claims to provide a free tool to speed up your Internet connection (though independent experts have not observed any appreciable speed improvement with its use). Its real purpose is to collect and sell information on Internet usage patterns. Once you sign up, all your web connections are monitored and analyzed by MarketScore. As a result, MarketScore can potentially gain access to your usernames and passwords, credit card numbers, PINs, bank and purchase transactions, and other confidential information.
Unfortunately, MarketScore is just one example of risky free software. While there’s also some very valuable, free open-source software available, it’s usually a bad idea to install free utilities and programs that you don't know enough about. Before installing a free tool or program, always check with your Local Support Provider.