Feeds

RealPlayer dinged by software watchdog group

RealNetworks promises changes

Seven Steps to Software Security

A software watchdog group has branded the two most recent versions of the RealPlayer media program "badware" because they don't give users adequate control over software components that are activated during installation.

RealNetworks, maker of the program, has pledged to fix the issue relating to its most recent version and says a separate issue in the earlier version has already been corrected.

StopBadware.org's objection with version 11 of the media program relates to the installation of a slimmed-down version of the Rhapsody Player, which is needed to play songs from a subscription music service that just happens to also be owned by RealNetworks. Thing is, when users uninstall RealPlayer, the Rhapsody software remains, and there's no easy way for average Joe users to know that.

"We believe that there is a strong responsibility on software producers that when a user consents to install something they know what they're consenting to," says Maxim Weinstein, manager of StopBadware.org. The failure to remove the Rhapsody Player "means now somebody has a piece of software on their computer that they didn't know about."

That, of course, has security implications. Given that security bugs are a fact of life, it's important users know for sure what programs are on their machines. More fundamentally, it comes down to this bedrock principle: People have the right to know exactly what is installed on their machines and to have an easy means of removing it.

RealNetworks spokesman Ryan Luckin issued a mea culpa, saying the RealPlayer's failure to uninstall the Rhapsody software was an oversight. He said engineers are working on an update that will fully remove the components.

According to Luckin, Version 11 is one of the only media players to natively run a wide variety of proprietary formats, including those based on Microsoft's Windows Media Player and Apple's QuickTime player. The Rhapsody software is installed so that RealPlayer can natively play music from the service seamlessly.

"RealPlayer is not doing anything malicious or putting users at risk," he said.

StopBadware's other beef with RealPlayer relates to version 10.5, which is still available Real's website. It turns on a feature known as Message Center, which pushes alerts concerning sports scores, videos and other content to a user's desk top. By default, all the options are turned on for users who don't register their personal information with RealNetworks.

Luckin said Message Center was substantially reworked in Version 11. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.