Freeware program secretly sending data back to developer September 23, 2017 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Trying to find an FPP about a freeware program secretly sending information back to its developer, opening a backdoor, or otherwise doing more than meets the eye.

It was a few years back, and I don't remember the exact details, but it was about a freeware program - something utterly mundane one would Google for and download to do a specific task, like converting AVI to MPEG or something like that. One of those freeware utilities written by some independent software developer. Anyway, somebody on some tech website had discovered that actually, it was sending information back to the developer, "phoning home", or possibly opening a backdoor or otherwise doing something sneaky. The website had some big expose about how it was actually contacting some server controlled by the developer and sending data back. And then there might have even been a followup where they confronted the developer. I've searched through Metafilter multiple times but I can't find the post. Pretty sure I'm not imagining this.
posted by pravit to MetaFilter-Related at 3:42 PM (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

It's wrong on the details but we had a home grown example of this with the Metafiilthy extension.
posted by Mitheral at 8:18 PM on September 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't have a link, but I totally remember this, pravit.
posted by Literaryhero at 10:22 PM on September 23, 2017

I had a post a few years back about sourceforge seizing abandoned projects and wrapping the installers in malware. They later changed it to opt-in only.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:38 AM on September 24, 2017

It's wrong on the details but we had a home grown example of this with the Metafiilthy extension.

Which provoked a controversy and then a bit of a meltdown. Orthogonality slapped a user who had offered a modified MetaFilthy (without its ability to phone home) with a DCMA takedown notice and shortly thereafter pulled the extension entirely.

That was nearly 12 years ago. Ancient history!
posted by zarq at 9:51 AM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I remember this as an Android app by one person and either the app or the organization name had the name "orange" or "golden" in it. I'm a little wishy-washy on the latter, but I'll continue to search. I want to say it was about 5 years ago.
posted by rhizome at 11:29 AM on September 24, 2017

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