It's recently come to our attention that the installer for Adobe Shockwave Player is coming bundled with an optional installation of Norton Security Scan. The bundle was pointed out by Martin Brinkmann from gHacks and confimed by our Editor in Chief, Julio Franco, when he was prompted by Firefox's latest version to upgrade the Flash add-on. We tried to find an exact date on when this bundle started to take place and found scattered information dating back to 2010, so it’s highly likely that Security Scan has been bundled with the Adobe program for quite some time.
Brinkmann notes that both the slim online installer and the full installer prompted him to install the third party application. The notice comes near the end of the Shockwave Player installation and will install the Norton software unless you opt-out (the checkbox is selected by default).
The practice of bundling third party software alongside reputable software isn’t new but rather an ongoing concern. Many PC users, especially those who aren’t tech savvy, tend to zip through software installations without reading or even skimming over each window during the process. As a result, these same users typically end up installing third party software that they didn’t want or were even aware of.
In many cases, it can be pretty difficult to remove said software from their machine. Several programs aren’t uninstallable from the add/remove programs list and require the user to visit the company’s website to download and install a special removal tool. Norton is one such example as several of their antivirus and Internet security products in past years required a special removal tool to cleanly uninstall without leaving a trace.
As a basic reminder, it’s best to install software only from a reputable provider and more importantly, read each page during installation to avoid accidentally installing "extras" like the Ask Toolbar or Babylon Toolbar, two other usual suspects of such practices.