Journal article Open Access

Costly Freeware: A Systematic Analysis of Abuse in Download Portals

Richard Rivera; Platon Kotzias; Avinash Sudhodanan; Juan Caballero


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    "description": "<p>Freeware is proprietary software that can be used free of charge. A popular vector for distributing freeware are download<br>\nportals, i.e., websites that index, categorize, and host programs. Download portals can be abused to distribute potentially unwanted<br>\nprograms (PUP) and malware. The abuse can be due to PUP and malware authors uploading their ware, by benign freeware<br>\nauthors joining as affiliate publishers of PPI services and other affiliate programs, or by malicious download portal owners. In this<br>\nwork, we perform a systematic study of abuse in download portals. We build a platform to crawl download portals and apply it to<br>\ndownload 191K Windows freeware installers from 20 download portals. We analyze the collected installers and execute them in a<br>\nsandbox to monitor their installation. We measure an overall ratio of PUP and malware between 8% (conservative estimate) and<br>\n26% (lax estimate). In 18 of the 20 download portals examined the amount of PUP and malware is below 9%. But, we also find<br>\ntwo download portals exclusively used to distribute PPI downloaders. Finally, we detail different abusive behaviors that authors of<br>\nundesirable programs use to distribute their programs through download portals.</p>", 
    "language": "eng", 
    "title": "Costly Freeware: A Systematic Analysis of Abuse in Download Portals", 
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    "publication_date": "2018-06-06", 
    "creators": [
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        "name": "Richard Rivera"
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      {
        "affiliation": "IMDEA Software Institute", 
        "name": "Platon Kotzias"
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      {
        "affiliation": "IMDEA Software Institute", 
        "name": "Avinash Sudhodanan"
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      {
        "affiliation": "IMDEA Software Institute", 
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