How Trustworthy Are Download Portals Nowadays?

SALZBURG, Austria, March 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – Numerous download portals make use of so-called download wrappers, small programs that take care of the download itself. This is primarily to refund their traffic costs by placing advertisements and special offers. But Emsisoft, which specializes in security software for Windows, sees a huge safety risk in download wrappers: Once hackers and virus authors start to specialize in download wrappers, the Internet community may have to face new waves of malware.

A lot of download pages offering freeware, shareware, demos or drivers do have a problem: they have to finance enormous traffic costs. One possibility is the use of download wrappers. When a user tries to download a program, they are forced to obtain the download wrapper in the first place. This little “helper” will then download the desired software. But during the file transfer, the user will be faced with annoying ad banners or even tricked into downloading other software or even toolbars. Emsisoft also complains about the possibility of creating individual user profiles; the more detailed these are, the higher the advertisement revenues.

Huge portals like, or already either offer download wrappers as an option or require their use. But every single program installed on a computer is a potential risk. Besides misleading and annoying advertisements and data theft, Emsisoft sees the biggest problem in the fact that the user does not see the provider’s code signature when running the downloaded file. This will open the floodgates for potential hackers, who merely have to infiltrate the download system and then distribute their own software. The user will not see anymore what they are downloading, the desired tool or a trojan — or both.

Christian Mairoll, Emsisoft CEO, says: “There is absolutely no need for download wrappers. We understand that download pages try to raise funds, but as soon as the users are tricked and their computers endangered, this is unacceptable. We expect a huge malware outbreak as soon as malware authors specialize in wrappers: just imagine what happens when the tens of thousands of downloads per hour on huge websites are infected or replaced with threats. Safety has to come first and is more important than any turnover.”

Emsisoft can be found online at .


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