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The folks at Belarco Group recently approached Sunbelt about its handling of that company’s rebates program, Shop at Home Select (otherwise known as SelectRebates or GoldenRetriever). We performed our standard software review in response. You can read our full report on SAHS here.

SAHS has a bad history of non-consensual installs, including installations through security exploits. To the company’s credit, Belarco Group decided to end the use of third-party distributors in October 2005, not long after ShopAtHome was booted from Commission Junction. So far as we can tell, that commitment to end third-party installs has proven successful — we haven’t seen any unethical third-party installs nor have we received any reports of such installs since end the end of October.

That said, we still have a few complaints about the software, most importantly the failure to disclose the full range of potential privcy effects outside of the EULA.

Thus, we’ve decided to put SAHS on a probation period until May 1, at which point we will continue to detect the program but lower the program’s risk level to “Low risk” and change the default action presented to users to “Ignore.” If the company manages to address all of our remaining concerns, we will even consider de-listing the product. All of these potential changes are conditioned, of course, on the successful completion of the probation period — Belarco must continue its recent history of good behavior, and it must resolve the remaining problems that we have identified with the software.

Sunbelt welcomes feedback from the anti-spyware community and the internet user community more generally. If you know of on-going third-party installs of Shop at Home Select, esp. those that might be performed in a less than up-front manner, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Eric L. Howes
Director of Malware Research

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