Feeds

RealPlayer dinged by software watchdog group

RealNetworks promises changes

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

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. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
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
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
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.