Why is Hitman Pro promoting Hotspot Shield?

Discussion in 'other anti-malware software' started by justenough, Jan 10, 2012.

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  1. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    I've removed Hitman Pro, because after my last scan HMP's window had an ad for 'Hotspot Shield'. When I looked up the program, I found what seemed to be serious problems with it. Instead of protecting from ads it was targeting the user with ads. There was an inadequate explanation by the company. Maybe HMP has a good reason for promoting the software, I haven't asked them about it. Maybe someone else with more knowledge than I have can look into it. But unless I find out differently, I'm not using HMP again.

    MajorGeeks has this about the Hotspot Shield: 'Limitations: This program is advertising supported and may offer to install third party programs that are not required for the program to run. These may include a toolbar, changing your homepage, default search engine or other third party programs. Please watch the installation carefully.'

    And this is what GFI Labs (Sunbelt Vipre) has to say about it, along with Hotspot Shield's reply and GFI's response to the reply:
    http://sunbeltblog.blogspot.com/201...m_campaign=Feed: SunbeltBlog (GFI Labs (OLD))
     
  2. kupo

    kupo Registered Member

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    But they have a paid version right? It would be acceptable if they have ads for their own products, LOL. :D. But seriously, why does they have to promote hotspot shield, I think it's a controversial software.
     
  3. gugarci

    gugarci Registered Member

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    Do you have the free or paid version?
     
  4. markloman

    markloman Developer

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    Users that have an expired or free license of HitmanPro will see ads - this to encourage people to support the development of the HitmanPro program. If you are a paid user of HitmanPro, you do not see any ads.

    The current advertisement is for AnchorFree Hotspot Shield which is VPN software that comes in a free and a paid version.
    The Hotspot Shield software can be used if you are surfing the net using an ISP that is monitoring your web surfing behavior or when you are in a country that filters the internet for you (e.g. blocks Skype, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc).
    If you use the free version of Hotspot Shield, it will show ads in your browser as mentioned in the install and on the website - it does not install any additional software like toolbars for you or without consent of the user. The paid version does not show any ads.

    Hotspot Shield was used by many people in Tunisia, Lybia and Egypt during political unrests last year (governments blocking the use of popular services to sensor the news about the uprisings in these countries). Also soldiers in e.g. the Middle East can use Hotspot Shield to access domestic content that is often blocked by local ISPs.
    But if you don't like ads, know that many free and enjoyable web content is made and written by professionals that are paid thanks to ads.

    BTW, in return, AnchorFree Hotspot Shield is showing ads of HitmanPro to their users, so there isn't any money involved.

    I hope this helps.
     
  5. Victek

    Victek Registered Member

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    Hotspot Shield is a mixed bag. I use it occasionally when connecting through open Wifi in coffee shops and restaurants. I would rather have a secure wireless connection and accept tracking/ads then run the risk of someone snooping my connection and picking up my passwords. There's nothing wrong with offering a service in exchange for advertizing. Although AnchorFree could be more explicit and detailed in their Privacy Policy there is really no attempt to hide that the service is ad supported. Ads are annoying but they are not malware. The business about installing a toolbar, and changing the homepage and default search engine is a common practice - many "free" programs do this. I find this obnoxious and believe it should be "opt in" instead of "opt out", but this is how the game is played. There is a simple way to avoid all of this (well, most of it) and that's to pay $$ for services.
     
  6. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    Free version. HMP never found anything that required upgrading to the paid version to do removal. Probably because Sandboxie and other first layers are keeping stuff out. And I'm okay with putting up with ads to use the free version, in this case my problem is with what they are advertising.
     
  7. AlexC

    AlexC Registered Member

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    I had used Hotspot Shield free for some time and i didn't found any ads, maybe because of fanboy tpl's. I remember that i had to reset my home page to google after the install, but after that i didn't found any annoyance...
     
  8. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    Thank you for the response markloman. Here is what GFI (Sunbelt Vipre) says about Hotspot Shield, which your answer doesn't really address:
    http://sunbeltblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/anchorfree-responds-on-hotspot-shield.html

    While it is inspiring that Hotspot Shield has helped people fighting repressive governments, that doesn't touch on the problems with the software. Popularity is no guide to quality, especially when you are talking about the choices people in desperate circumstances have to make.

    My problem with your ad for Hotspot Shield is that it sounds like there is deception in how that software installs. GFI says this:

    "There is nothing straightforward, clear, or conspicuous in the disclosures you offer users concerning the ad-supported nature of the product or the fact that ad networks can (and undoubtedly are) using tracking technologies to monitor users' response to ads and personalize those ads."

    and

    "The key test or question in this case is a simple one. AnchorFree promotes Hotspot Shield as means for "protecting your privacy, security, and anonymity on the web." What would users think if they knew that the very first thing AnchorFree does after users start a "private browsing session" is hand them over to invasive advertising networks? I think they would be appalled.

    Eric Howes
    Sunbelt Software"

    A side point, saying that no money changed hands doesn't really mean much. You are advertising each other's products, which must be of some value to both your companies. One of the most important criteria in choosing security software is knowing that I can trust the company behind it, since I don't have a tech's understanding of software. While in the past I've never had problems or doubts about Hitman Pro, I have to ask questions after reading what GFI says, along with user comments at various security sites I've visited when looking into Hotspot Shield.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  9. carat

    carat Guest

    Hitman Pro should promote a good AV instead of Hotspot Shield ;)
     
  10. enemyofarsenic

    enemyofarsenic Registered Member

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    i dont see a prob with it... unless you're a paid user...
     
  11. quanzi_1507

    quanzi_1507 Registered Member

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    I don't think it's a serious problem either. AnchorFree clearly said that their product is ad-supported. They even stated in their Software License and Terms of Service that:

    They are not hiding anything. If users agree with the terms said above and proceed to install, they can't blame the company for not telling that beforehand.

    The installer does offer a toolbar option (which is checked by default and can be unchecked), a custom installation to avoid changes involving browser's homepage, default search engine, etc.

    Even GFI promotes their antivirus solution as "doesn't slow down your PC". While it is lightweight on system resources, I doubt that it really doesn't have any impact on the system's performance at all.
     
  12. Dark Shadow

    Dark Shadow Registered Member

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    Agree,I dont see why they would not promote G data,Ikarus,Drweb or Emsisoft,since thats whats being used in there application.
     
  13. quanzi_1507

    quanzi_1507 Registered Member

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    They did, just not in the same way:

    http://www.surfright.nl/en/shop/
     
  14. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    That's not what justenough is trying to bring to discussion, from what I can tell. The irony is that Hotspot Shield aims at protecting the user's privacy, but then it support their free service by displaying ads from third-party services. According to Sunbelt/GFI:

    What would users think if they knew that the very first thing AnchorFree does after users start a "private browsing session" is hand them over to invasive advertising networks?

    Judging by this, I'd imagine the ads coming from other networks, and not from AchorFree itself. Considering I never used it, my question would be: Would the displaying of the ads, coming from third-party networks, pose a privacy risk?

    I believe that was what GFI/Sunbelt raised about it... and also what user justenough means, perhaps.
     
  15. Victek

    Victek Registered Member

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    Good question. "Tracking" (ostensibly to serve up targeted ads) has become a big concern lately with browsers starting to incorporate the option to block it, but it's unclear to me to what extent tracking compromises privacy. Until tracking practices are made more public and limits are clearly defined in law there will be paranoia about it.
     
  16. Dark Shadow

    Dark Shadow Registered Member

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    Ok I missed that,I should have used the scroll function.:p
     
  17. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    Thank you for making what I'm concerned about a bit clearer. I don't object to an ad in exchange for using a program. It's not even a big deal if a free program wants to install a toolbar or change the browser, if it is made very clear on installation with an obvious way to say no. You are right m00nbl00d, it's what GFI says, Hotspot Shield (HSS) hands users over to invasive advertising networks, and certainly some people are unaware it's happening. Is AnchorFree making sure that every advertiser in that network is acting ethically? But more important to me, and the point of my asking the thread's question, is that Hitman Pro is advertising this program, which causes me to wonder about their judgement. But I'm asking the question, because I really don't know that HSS is as bad as it sounds, or what was behind HMP's decision to put the ad up. Have the people at HMP looked into the advertising network that HSS connects their users to and made sure everyone is acting properly? I don't see how that is possible, which is worrying in this case because I have to rely on the integrity and professionalism of the companies behind my security programs.
     
  18. Victek

    Victek Registered Member

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    The GFI blogpost uses the phrase "invasive advertising networks", but doesn't define it. Do they mean all advertising networks are invasive or is there something problematic specifically about the networks affiliated with AnchorFree? I would like to see this clarified.

    What makes you certain that "some people are unaware that it's happening"? It seems unlikely since HSS places an ad at the top of the currently displayed browser page while the service is connected, as well as spelling it out in the EULA and the privacy policy on the website. The basic facts are not hidden.
     
  19. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    Do people read the fine print when installing a program? The Hotspot Shield page has the words 'Ad Supported' at the top, which doesn't sound too bad, sort of like what HMP does. But if you scroll down to the bottom of the page there's a link 'Hotspot Shield terms of use'. If you then go to the terms of use, and read through to section 9.1, you'll find this:

    "9.1 Advertisements. If You are using the free Service, AnchorFree may deliver third-party Advertisements within the content of any web page accessed. Advertisements may be injected into the top of the page, inserted directly into the page content, or even displayed to overlay the page. You hereby acknowledge and consent that AnchorFree may alter the content of any web page accessed for the purpose of displaying Advertisements. Additionally from time to time, AnchorFree may prevent any user's access to the product or continued use thereof until such user has successfully participated in applicable advertising programs, surveys, or other activities that involve the collection, and monetization, and other use of users' personal information. AnchorFree does not endorse any information, materials, products, or services contained in or accessible through Advertisements. Accordingly, your correspondence or business dealings with, or participation in promotions of, advertisers found on or through the Service are solely between You and such advertiser. ACCESS AND USE OF ADVERTISEMENTS, INCLUDING THE INFORMATION, MATERIALS, PRODUCTS, AND SERVICES ON OR AVAILABLE THROUGH ADVERTISEMENTS SITES IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK."

    Do you think the average user knows this is what Hotspot Shield means by 'Ad Supported'?

    Or more relevant to the original question of this thread, do the people at Hitman Pro know this is what Hotspot Shield means by 'Ad Supported'?
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  20. vojta

    vojta Registered Member

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    You don't want to see an ad? Buy a license.

    Oh, sorry, I forgot that 99% of the people is in internet only to steal everything that is at hand. Sorry, sorry, sorry........
     
  21. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    vojta, no reason to apologize. Unless it's for missing the point. Do you think that GFI, the company behind Sunbelt Vipre security products, is critical about how Hotspot Shield 'hands their customers over to invasive advertising networks' because GFI doesn't want to buy a license or wants to steal everything that is at hand? As for me, I don't want HSS, I have no need for it, my concern is why Hitman Pro is advertising something that would make their customers vulnerable to the tracking issues mentioned earlier.

    Either I am not being clear, or this is more complicated than I realize.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  22. Kees1958

    Kees1958 Registered Member

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    With simple communication basics is mind: Sender - Message - Receiver

    Receiver: I understand that the receiver has to apologize for missing the point o_O

    Message: You being not clear, really means that your message is unclear, no need to thank me for that :cool:

    Sender: More complicated than you realize, would imply that you are missing the context. When you value missing the context equal to missing the point, to whom will you apologize? :D
     
  23. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    Kees1958, is there room for irony in that equation?

    I feel like there might be smoke being blown here. It is really a simple question at the beginning of the thread, but instead of answers there's some obfuscation coming back, deliberate or not, even from HMP.

    One last time, clearly and succinctly, why is Hitman Pro advertising a program that GFI Sunbelt Vipre says 'hands their customers over to invasive advertising networks'? My guess is that either GFI is wrong about Hotspot Shield (which I think is unlikely, from what I've read elsewhere) or Hitman Pro made a bad decision, or at least one that doesn't protect their customers at the level I personally would like.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  24. carat

    carat Guest

    Because they need money for Hitman Pro 3.6 :doubt:
     
  25. Page42

    Page42 Registered Member

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    The dev has stated in this thread that there isn't any money involved.
     
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