OFFICIAL SECURITY BLOG

Tango Down, Softango

October 9, 2013 | BY

We have been hearing complaints that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware comes with a bunch of useless stuff.

For the sake of thoroughness, I inquired if we had any “bundling” offers. The email reply I received consisted of one word: NEVER.

Let me explain, bundles are an amalgamation of programs usually riding the coattails of one more desirable program in the hope of also being installed.

Bundlers are almost never a bundle of joy.

If you do a search for a term in Google, the very top results are not organic, they are paid for. They are encased in a beige box. That is the visual cue that is supposed to tell you that these results have been PAID for.

There is a much better description here, straight from the horses mouth.

This is perfectly legitimate but sometimes unscrupulous people try to take advantage of it.

For example, if you do a search for Malwarebytes in Google, the second top paid result is a Google adword campaign by SofTango.

non-organic

If you accidentally click on the link shown by the arrow, you will get a “download manager” that will try to foist adware on your system.

I strongly suspect that this is what is happening when we get complaints of unnecessary software being included with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

These bundlers typically use an affiliate marketing scheme to reward their participants on a per install basis.

What does that mean?

The more applications SofTango can install on the users computer, the more money they make from their shady affiliate program.

They achieve this by creating their own installer typically called a bundler that includes multiple programs, instead of just the one advertised in their adword campaign.

Let’s look at this in a little more detail.

Did SofTango ask our permission to “bundle” our product?

No.

SofTango is using our good name, and the good reputation of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, to peddle a bunch of dubious software that is unwanted, unneeded and brings no value to the end user.

Even worse, said end user is trying to download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to be rid of a malicious application and SofTango is capitalizing on that to install unwanted stuff.

Did we partner with them for this offer?

No.

Is bundling something Malwarebytes would do?

No.

If someone mistakenly uses this downloader they will be surprised and rightfully angry that they got a bunch of unwanted applications.

Sometimes the bundler will not even include Malwarebytes Anti-Malware or conveniently crash before installing it. (We have seen this happen!)

Do you need a downloader to download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware?

No.

You might have needed a downloader in the days of dial-up where it would allow resuming the download if you lost your connection. Not today. Not anymore.

There is no scenario where you need this “downloader” except the one that generates affiliate commissions for SofTango or others of their ilk.

I downloaded the installer just out of curiosity.Here it is, next to ours.

bundeled installer

The bundled installer is the red icon and the blue installer is the legitimate Malwarebytes Anti-Malware installer.

Here is a screen capture of their bundler in progress.

We are promised that we will enjoy “Handerds” of free games…  Wait? Games? I don’t want games! I’m trying to download an an Anti-Malware solution!

bundle 1

You can see the list of stuff that tries to hitch along for the ride is pretty big. I would be unhappy if all I was trying to do was to clean my computer and all of this stuff showed up. Let’s continue to see where this leads us.

bundle 2

Still no Malwarebytes Anti-Malware but instead a backup program… Let’s persevere and click “next” some more.

bundle 3

Two more applications. Some sort of registry scanner. A speed optimizer… Where’s my promised Malwarebytes Anti-Malware?

bundle 4

Huzzah! The very last application is us! I did an md5 check and the installer was not tampered with. I went ahead and installed and updated the definitions. I also did a scan. You know, just for giggles…

pup detection

Oh my! It looks like almost all the bundled applications are listed as PUP‘s (Potentially Unwanted Programs) and detected as such by Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

There has also been some changes to the default search engine and several adware programs installed as well.

If you need to download our product, you can get it from this link:

http://www.malwarebytes.org/products/malwarebytes_free/

We think bundling is an evil marketing ploy designed to take advantage of inexperienced users, and that the bundled applications are almost never a value proposition for the end user, in fact quite the opposite.

Go ahead and download our program from the link above. There is just one. It crushes malware and restores confidence.

Update 10/09: This “bundler” has now been taken down, courtesy of our legal team.