Feeds

RealPlayer dinged by software watchdog group

RealNetworks promises changes

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS
Agency forgets it exists to protect communications, not just spy on them
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.