PC Trial-ware Is a Security Risk

So you bought yourself a new computer.  It has everything, a touch screen, built in WiFi and Bluetooth, anything you could want.  And a whole bunch of stuff you didn’t want, in the form of pre-installed software programs, trial-ware, and other bloat-ware and crap-ware that causes an unrelenting stream of pop-ups asking you to purchase and activate these mostly worthless programs.


As it turns out, some of these programs may be hazardous to your security.  We start with Samsung’s SWUpdate system management utility that actually disables Windows Updates.  This is a very bad idea, and if you own a Samsung laptop you should go to the Control Panel, Programs and Features, and remove this immediately.

Next we have the Lenovo Superfish debacle.  Superfish is a adware program that is supposed to “help you discover new things while shopping.”  Again, removal is necessary.

Then there is an LG monitor software that disables User Account Control.  As annoying as the UAC pop-up may be, it is the last line of defense against surreptitious unwanted downloads and mystery installations, and should never be disabled, at least not permanently.

But there are more of these applications than you can shake a stick at, and removing them one at a time from the Control Panel is tedious and time-consuming, since they can only be removed one at a time.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could just get rid of the ones you want to in a single pass?  Well there are two software products that will do just that.

The first one is PC Decrapifier, which bills itself as “TP for your PC.”  Using a wizard interface, you can choose which applications to remove.  The application provides some recommendations and you can even check to find out the top applications that other computer users are removing on their web site.  At $5 for the personal version, and $25 for a Pro subscription, you really can’t say no to this product.

Then there is Revo Uninstaller.  This one is more expensive, at $40 for a single PC, $59.00 for 3, or $98.00 for 5.  The Portable Pro version can be purchased for $69.25, and used on unlimited computers.  Revo has a more robust feature set that includes Forced Uninstallation of programs that failed to uninstall completely, left remnants, or no longer show up in the Programs and Features list.  It also has a Quick/Multiple Uninstall, among others.

So cleaning up the barrage of “free gift” software from your new, or not so new PC can be easier than you thought.  This is also a great way to remove the cascade of unwanted application installs that can happen when you accidentally download them from a download site (MajorGeeks, Download.com, CNet, SourceForge) along with the ONE program you really wanted.


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About the Author:

Cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. Serving small business owners in the St Paul, Minneapolis, and western Wisconsin area since 2001. Cybersecurity and hacking have been a passion of mine since I entered the computer and networking business in 2000. I hold several cybersecurity certifications including Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Advanced Security Pratitioner (CASP), and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). Other computer industry certifications include A+, Network+ and Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE). As Cybersecurity Analyst at The WyzCo Group, I help our clients experience high levels of security on their computers, networks, and websites. In addition to consulting on security products and services, we also conduct security audits, vulnerability assessments and full penetration tests. We also work with companies and organizations that need to certify compliance with regulations such as PCI-DSS (credit card processing), HIPAA/HITECH (medical records), and GLBA. We also provide Cybersecurity Awareness Training for clients and their employees. I am a frequent speakers at cybersecurity conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference, the (ISC)2 World Congress, and the ISSA International Conference, and many local community organizations, Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2008.

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